Friday, May 10, 2013

Troubling Snapshot of Average Korean Teenager

A troubling snapshot has emerged of the average Korean teenager, and not just because of her skirt length and the angle at which the photo was taken. According to the findings of a survey released yesterday by Statistics Korea and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Women Must Get Married and Have a Family, two out of three teenagers barely get any exercise, half are glued to their smartphones two hours a day, and one third believe that the best job is the one that pays them the most money, despite decades of an education and social system which has encouraged young Koreans to view working for a large Korean corporation as a privilege they should pay for.

The findings under the 'Attitudes to Work' section of the survey raise serious concerns about Korea's future competitiveness. Korea already has the least productive workers in the OECD, and the idea that they want more money is bound to set alarm bells ringing in Korean corporations, who will then be forced to extend their working hours knowing that this will reduce productivity further.

Under 'Health', the survey shows that recent crackdowns on sex crimes now means that two out of every three teenage girls barely get any exercise, with 57 percent of them saying they haven't had to run away from a man in the street or their school during the last 3 days.

Obesity levels increased steadily from 11.2 percent in 2008 to 14.7 percent this year. While the lack of sex-related exercise is likely to accelerate this, the rise over the last few years has been blamed on changing dietary patterns – with Koreans falling under the influence of dubious foreign food. In fact, the figures appear to closely match the increase in obesity levels of Americans living in Korea; statistics show that their average weight has risen from 112kg in 2008 to 147kg this year, although no figures are available for American men.

Aside from turning into fat socialists, the survey reveals that Korean teenagers spend up to two hours a day glued to their smartphones, as it can take up to an hour in the hospital to separate fingers which have become fused to phones with overheating batteries which melt their casings. Because of the strain it is placing on the health system, the government is urging phone manufacturers to move away from plastic to conductive materials which will merely burn or shock their users.

Another alarming survey discovery was that 1 in 10 teenagers contemplated suicide over the past year – a drop from 4 out of 10 last year – suggesting that three 3 of 10 have already killed themselves and may be lying undiscovered somewhere. According to official figures, the main cause of death among teens last year was Korean culture, accounting for 13 percent. The teen suicide rate has almost doubled over the last 10 years.

Tackling the Korea's teen suicide problem has proven difficult but experts say quality youth programs are urgently needed. "Have you ever seen K-Pop Star?" said 56-year-old Professor Kim at Seoul International University, "I often want to kill myself after seeing it too."

Related Links
Troubling Snapshot of Average Korean Teenager
Korean workers hardworking but inefficient
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Jinju Suicide Festival Draws Fire
Suicide leading cause of youth deaths in Korea
K-pop Star

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