June 27, 2011 07:31
The strength of personal networks based on regional and school ties, which traditionally lie at the core of the Korean way of building relationships, is dwindling, according to recent surveys that suggest individualism is on the rise in Korean society.
According to a nationwide poll carried out by LG Economic Research Institute on 1,800 people on June 13, 36.4 percent of the respondents prioritized the individual over the organization. Roughly the same amount, or 36.8 percent, did not agree that actions undertaken for the public good should limit or infringe upon their own rights.
Such a shift in perspective is even more evident among university students. It is not uncommon to see students eating alone at university cafeterias, and there seems to be a growing trend to befriend less people in the same department or academic year.
"There are more advantages to eating alone, as you can save money and time," said one 22-year-old student, voicing the new me-first ethos of the younger generation.
In a poll of 528 university students by job search portal Incruit last year, 34.5 percent considered themselves as "outsiders" who rarely socialize with their classmates or friends.
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