Coronavirus No. 1 Anxiety Among Koreans

  • By Choi Jong-seok

    November 19, 2020 12:58

    The coronavirus epidemic is the biggest source of anxiety for Koreans, according to a poll by Statistics Korea out Wednesday. In the same survey two years ago, crime was still the biggest worry for many.

    The survey of 38,000 people over 13 was conducted in May, when the epidemic was at its height.

    The outbreak of a new disease topped among nine possible causes of anxiety with 32.8 percent, compared to a mere 2.8 percent coming bottom in 2018. Economic risks came second with 14.9 percent, ahead of crime and national security. Some 5.2 percent said they have thought about suicide, 38.2 percent of them due to financial difficulties.

    Stress related to school or work declined as more and more people are studying online or telecommuting. While 68 percent still experience work-related stress, that was down 3.8 percentage points from two years ago. Fewer schoolchildren also feel stressed at school down from 49.6 percent to 35.2 percent.

    At the same time the stress of housework has stayed roughly the same at 41 percent even though people spent more time at home.

    Commuters wear masks on a bus in downtown Seoul on Wednesday. /Newsis

    Health awareness has increased due to the epidemic. The proportion of people who exercise regularly has risen from 38.3 percent to 40.9 percent over the two-year period and that who said they get plenty of sleep from 77.5 percent to 80.1 percent.

    But fewer people regularly have breakfast, down from 67.3 percent to 64.8 percent. When it comes to environment, a whopping 72.9 percent cited fine dust pollution as the main concern.

    Attitudes toward marriage have become more liberal, with 59.7 percent saying a couple can live together without getting married, up 3.3 percentage points from 2018. Also, 30.7 percent said it is okay to have a child out of wedlock, and the proportion has been growing steadily.

    At the same time, the proportion who feel that married couples must have children declined 1.6 percentage points to 68 percent, reflecting the growing number of "double-income, no kids" couples. About half feel that divorce is acceptable. Significantly more men than women still think marriage is necessary.

    Attitudes toward the sharing of household chores between husband and wife differed in theory and practice. Six out of 10 respondents said household chores should be split evenly, but only two out of every 10 housewives said this is actually practiced at home.

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