Hell Choson?

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.

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