December 24, 2015 08:24
A growing number of Koreans are spending their time off alone. Statistic Korea data for 2015 showed that 56.8 percent of people over 15 or above usually spend their time off work alone, up more than 12 percentage points from 44.1 percent in 2007.
The proportion who spend their holidays or time off with friends fell from 34.5 percent to 8.3 percent over the same period.
The trend is especially conspicuous among young people -- a whopping 73.3 percent of teens and 71 percent of those in their 20s spend their free time alone.
That is no exception during Christmas and the year-end holidays, traditionally a time for relentless conviviality.
The main reason seems to be the economic slump, which means people simply do not have the money to go out.
Job search portal Job Korea polled 848 working people in May, and 35.4 percent of respondents cited drinking and entertainment as the area of expenditures that they wanted to reduce the most.
Another reason is that free time is in short supply and people want to treasure it. Office workers had only two hours and 14 minutes of free time a day, which is less than the national average of four hours and 49 minutes.
An increasing tendency among young people to seek privacy plays a part in this trend. Kim Young-ran at Sookmyung Women’s University said many people in their 20s and 30s grew up in one-child families and have grown more accustomed to spending time alone.
But they normally just watch TV. In a study by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism last year, 51.9 percent cited TV viewing as the most popular weekend and holiday activity, followed by going to the movies with 48.6 percent. Building plastic models was also among the lonely leisure pursuits.
Not everyone is alone by choice. According to an analysis of social media posts by Daum, the word "lonely" appears five times more often today than in 2011.
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