"Choi", a 27-year-old office worker who lives in Suwon in Gyeonggi Province, has decided not to head home to South Gyeongsang Province for the Chuseok holidays. The reason? She wants to stay in shape.
After gaining weight thanks to frequent overtime sessions and after-work gatherings, Choi put herself on a diet seven months ago. She skips breakfast, eats a small lunch and then skips dinner again. As a result, she has dropped 5 kg in just two months. But now, just as she's regaining her former figure, she faces an ambush -- Chuseok, the grand enemy of all dieters.
"Just thinking about Chuseok, I feel like I can smell the sanjeok (grilled seasoned beef) or all the fried foods. Since I can't be sure of dodging all those greasy dishes, I decided not to go home," Choi said. To avoid any family grief, she has told her parents she has unavoidable company business to attend to.
"Kim", a 29-year-old teacher with a wedding slated for next year has also decided not to go home to Jinju in South Gyeongsang Province for Chuseok. Kim has shed 8 kg since the start of the year by going to the gym three times a week and skipping dinner. Chuseok offers too many temptations for overindulgence. To maintain her figure, Kim too will celebrate the Korean thanksgiving alone.
There is another reason why young women in their 20s and 30s are trying to evade home over Chuseok. Lee, a 27-year-old office worker who works in Seoul's Gangnam District, has asked for two more days off around the Chuseok break, but she won't be going home. During her seven days of vacation, Lee will undergo plastic surgery to enhance her breasts, a procedure she has been putting off because the recovery period is so long. "I've made up my mind since this is the last chance I'll have to do the surgery, but I'm still torn about how to tell my parents," Lee said.
Many plastic surgeons are fully booked for the holiday season by women like Lee who want to take advantage of the break for some cosmetic enhancements. "The upcoming Chuseok holidays are longer than the last New Year holidays which were just three days, so bookings were full by August," said Hong Sung-bum, president of BK Dongyang Plastic Surgery Clinic. "We have so many bookings, I'll only get one day off on the actual day of Chuseok."
Meanwhile some workaholics are hesitant to go home because they're worried how the aftermath of Chuseok might affect their work. "Park", 28, works at an Internet advertising agency. With 20 guests at her mother's house in Busan during the New Year holidays, Park returned to work totally drained. She could barely perform her job for a week. "If my work is affected, I may not be able to keep my job," Park said. "I'm going to stay here in Seoul for this Chuseok to read books and refresh myself."