Wake-Up Calls Offer Lifeline to Young Unemployed

      July 20, 2016 11:46

      Making phone calls to strangers to wake them up in the morning is fast becoming a popular part-time job among young people in a dismal labor market.

      The wake-up call service costs W30,000-50,000 a month (US$1=W1,140). Customers post wanted ads seeking wake-up calls online and choose service providers on a trial basis for a day before they commit themselves.

      One 22-year-old university student in Daejeon has given up all her other part-time jobs since she started making wake-up calls. "All I need to do is wake up early, and I can make W400,000 to W500,000 a month if I secure 10 customers, which is better than other part-time jobs," she said.

      Most customers live alone and do not have family members to wake them up in the morning. They are usually office workers in their 20s and 30s but also include fathers who sent their children to school overseas with their mother. Others opt to be woken up in the morning by others simply because they feel lonely.

      The number of one-person households rose from just 2.26 million in 2000 to around 5 million last year.

      Part of the wake-up call service includes asking clients math questions or reading sections of newspapers to them to make sure they are really up. Other gimmicks include celebrity voice impressions or singing songs. Some women want to be woken up by an assertive male voice, while others prefer more dulcet tones.

      But since payments are invoiced at the end of the month, some clients simply break contact without paying. There are also instances of sexual harassment of female callers.

      "I was surprised when a male client sent me a photo of him in his underwear after I gave him a wake-up call," a student recalls.

      Websites where wake-up call requests are made often include blacklists of rude customers. Prof. Lee Yoon-ho at Dongguk University said, "People can be vulnerable to sexual harassment so measures should be taken to prevent teens from getting into wake-up call services."

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