A recent survey for Global Citizenship claims that South Korean young adults report some of the highest levels of dissatisfaction of any country. The study gives South Korea a net happiness score of 29%, which was the second lowest out of the 20 countries represented in the study.Yet if you look further down, you can see things becoming more nuanced. South Korea scores 65% on relationships and well being, and 82% felt hopeful about the future.
I have heard about the phenomenon known as Hell Choson (헬조선), a term to describe the economic problems of low growth, which has led to some Koreans wanting to relocate to other countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. But often this is less about not loving Korea but a desire to travel the world. In recent years it has become much easier to do this due to working holiday visas and study abroad programs.
I’m sceptical about the efforts to measure happiness. It could easily become skewed by differences in local character. People might want to give honest or less honest answers to the interviewer. Or they might simply have a persona grievance that doesn’t reflect any general unhappiness.
Besides, I didn’t meet anything like the level of discontent among South Koreans when I travelled there. If anything, most young Koreans seemed happy in their country and were fully engaged in all areas of their lives. Contrast with Britain, where most youngsters are rootless and uncertain.
As always, this is my opinion and I could well be wrong. Leave a comment below and tell me your experiences.
In the last few years, there have been several first point accounts of survivors who have left North Korea. Now, I don’t happen to have read all of them but I can give a fair summary of the typical scenario.
Many of the recent testimonies, alhough not all, come from young women, who had to leave their family behind, and then went on a perilous journey across the border with China (the only route North Koreans can leave the country).
But when they eventually reach freedom in their new country (many move to South Korea) life isn’t so great either. And most North Koreans are never fully accepted into South Korean society. Yes, South Koreans tend to treat North Koreans as foreigners, in spite of the fact that they share the same the same ethnic and cultural identity. For example, a reason why North Koreans are viewed as ‘other’ is that they have come to speak a completely new form of Korean. Some are viewed with fear or hostility, and even suspected of being spies for the Kim regime.
With Kim Jong-un completing several nuclear tests, relationships between the two Korea’s are at an all time low. Yet some North Koreans believe in the possibility of reunification. It’s a view held by prominent North Korean escapee Hyeonsoo Lee: “many people in the past, they never predicted German reunification, but it didn’t happen.”
With the health of Kim Jong-un not exactly great right now – his love of western food and alcohol having led to weight gain of 30kg – the regime could simply collapse if he suffers an early death (that’s if he isn’t assassinated by the Japanese).
Meanwhile, some of these North Korean women are amazing. If, like me, you are questioning why there are so many ugly women in the western world, you could be asking what’s so good about democracy anyway.
Now this post may upset people so I will ask the question straight away:
Why are so many fans of K-pop music so freaking ugly?
If you think about it, the fans you normally see listening to k-music, attending concerts or looking at fan merchandise are hardly attractive. But when it comes to the musicians themselves, it’s a different story.
I did a search online and it seems there are other people who have noticed the same thing. Here is a sample quote:
Even in countries who have the most prettiest people, only ugly people like kpop. Like you’ll rarely find a pretty kpop fan.
I kind of agree with the post. This isn’t too say that attractive people don’t listen to K-pop, of course they do. But the bulk of K-pop fans are strange looking and nothing like the idols themselves. I saw in Korea that the fans who were waiting outside the offices of JYP’s offices in Cheongdam-dong were mainly older and less attractive than typical Koreans. And when I went to the busking area of Hongdae the international fans were all overweight and unattractive.
I’m not shaming anybody, I’m just pointing this out because I consider it of note. And if you don’t believe me, have a look at this photo I took on my phone in the Dunkin’ Doughnuts opposite JYP in Gangnam: