Locked-Down Koreans Find Friends in Virtual Markets

      April 10, 2021 08:16

      Online marketplaces where people buy and sell used products have become popular venues for people to chat in lockdown, just as they would chat in the market in normal times.

      Mobile app Daangn Market which allows users to sell used goods in their neighborhood recently added a function where its 14 million users can share their daily experiences and ask for help.

      Selecting a particular neighborhood in Seoul throws up around 120 posts by people seeking to join others in daily activities, from car-washing to hanging out with their kids and jogging or climbing together.

      "I'm looking for someone to recommend some good restaurants in our neighborhood and go for walks," wrote one user, Park Sung-min (29), who moved to a flat in Samseong-dong in southern Seoul late last year to be closer to his office.

      Soon two people contacted him. "We all get together every couple of days to have dinner or go for walks," Park said. "I used to feel lonely after work, but now I have some new friends."

      Another 26-year-old office worker said, "Living alone, all I did was go to work and come back home, to the point where I wondered when was the last time I spoke with someone else about something other than work. I really needed someone to chat to."

      Other people are looking for neighbors in group chat rooms on messenger apps like Kakao Talk.

      Prof. Koo Jeong-woo at Sungkyunkwan University said, "Most people who live alone are in their 20s and 30s. They grew up in a digital environment and have fewer scruples about making friends online."

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