Hundreds of Thousands Live Like Recluses in Korea

      January 19, 2023 10:01

      Hundreds of thousands of younger Koreans have withdrawn from society and live like recluses, a survey suggests. 
      Dubbed "hikikomori" in Japan, where the phenomenon first appeared, these young people often see no future for themselves in the job and marriage market and withdraw into themselves from the strictures of society. 
      The survey by the Seoul Metropolitan Government of 6,926 adults shows that 4.5 percent of them live in near-total isolation.
      "We can presume that there are some 129,000 recluses if we extrapolate the percentage of respondents to the capital's entire youth population of 2.92 million," the city said. "The number reaches about 610,000 nationwide if projected on the whole country." 
      The city government classifies young people as socially withdrawn if they live emotionally and physically isolated for more than six months. Hikikomori typically have no friends or relatives they can ask for advice or help and hardly ever speak to people other than their relatives.
      Some 55.6 percent of them rarely go outside, and 28.5 percent have more or less stayed in their home for more than five years. Most never try to find a job. Some seven percent did not even venture out of their room.
      The largest proportion or 28.1 percent stayed home for between a year and three years, followed by 17 percent between five and 10 years, 16.7 percent between three and five years and 11.5 percent more than 10 years. 
      Asked to give one or more reasons, the largest proportion or 45.5 percent ticked losing their job or difficulty finding one, followed by psychological or emotional difficulty (40.9 percent) and difficulty forming human relationships (40.3 percent).
      Some 64.7 percent said they are poorer than average, more than double the 31.4 percent among ordinary young people. One out of five or 18.5 percent are taking medication for mental illness, but more than half expressed resolve to overcome their difficulties. Asked if they ever wanted to break out of their isolated lifestyle, 55.7 percent said yes. 
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