Many Koreans to Skip Family Gatherings This Chuseok

  • By Park Don-kyoo

    September 30, 2020 08:33

    More Koreans are expected to stay put this Chuseok amid government efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus. In previous years up to 36 million people took to the roads and rails to visit their ancestral hometowns, meet up with family and perform the traditional ancestral rites, but this year the numbers are expected to be much smaller.

    Pollster Tillion Pro polled 3,053 people and found that 47 percent said they are staying home, while only 26 percent definitely want to visit their ancestral hometown and a whopping 27 percent are unsure.

    By comparison, 56 percent said they made the journey last year.

    Korea saw a surge in coronavirus infections after the long weekends in May and August. Asked if they are concerned about infection over Chuseok, 50 percent of respondents ticked "very" and 38 percent "fairly" concerned.

    Not everyone will be sad to miss out. Traditionally Chuseok has been unwelcomed to most married women since they had to toil in the kitchen cooking food for ancestral rites and lavish meals as well as dealing with the onslaught of their husbands' family. In recent years the trend has been to escape it all by going abroad for the holidays.

    Asked about the main advantage of staying locked down this year, 63 percent ticked a decreased chance of coronavirus infection, but 40 percent cited the absence of stress, and 33 percent savings on gifts and food. Younger women in particular were glad that they do not have to worry about the stress of family gatherings.

    Indeed, divorces tend to peak just after Chuseok. Couples whose relationship was already shake often felt that Chuseok stress was the last straw.

    Psychologist Park Han-sun said, "It's good for families to gather during Chuseok, but the problem is that we have to come into contact with strangers during our trips. Conducting ancestral rites online could be an excellent alternative."

    One 41-year-old office worker said, "Holding ancestral rites online could make us feel less guilty about avoiding our relatives. Maybe we're getting a taste of the future."

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