New Internet slang, games sum up angst among young people

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New Internet slang, games sum up angst among young people

The newly coined term “Hell Joseon” has gone viral among young Koreans online. The neologism refers to Korea as Joseon, the kingdom that ruled over the peninsula from 1392 to 1910, and the English word hell to describe the country as lacking hope and being full of despair.

Similar terms, and even online games that satirize this phenomenon, have recently overtaken online communities. The Earthen Spoon Bingo Game is a popular game among young Koreans on the Internet.

“Earthern spoon” is also a neologism that refers to those in the middle and lower classes, differentiating them from the affluent born with “golden spoons” in their mouths.

But instead of filling up an ordinary five-by-five bingo board with numbers, players must fill it with sentences describing how poor they are: “I don’t have a bathtub at home,” “I only live off two shoes a year,” “I don’t have a smart phone,” for instance.

Like regular bingo, the first one to cross out five items in a straight line is the winner. The more lines a player makes, the “poorer” they are.

“[Young people] are creating these neologisms as a way to insult the society in which they are living,” said Lee Byung-hoon, a sociology professor at Chung-Ang University.

To find out how dissatisfied young Koreans were with Korea, JTBC conducted a survey of 21,000 people, with 90 percent between the ages of 20 and 40. Among them, 88 percent said they had thought about immigrating to a different country because they have “no trust towards the government.” Those reasons were followed by “insecurities about the future” and “a poor working environment.”

Novelist Jang Kang-myung’s recent book “Because I Hate Korea,” which revolves around a young Korean woman who decides to immigrate to Australia, has been selling out fast for these reasons.

“I believe one of the weakest groups in Korean society is the young generation, especially young women,” Jang said. “I believe if they were treated properly in this society, they would feel happier, even if they were washing dishes for a living.”

“Their whole life is about competition,” added Kim Seok-ho, a sociology professor at Seoul National University. “Their whole life is stressful.

Of course they want to leave. Rather than being so centered on competition and so male-dominated, society should pursue cooperation and coexistence and continue to seek a higher quality of life.”

BY jung jae-yoon
[yim.seunghye@joongang.co.kr]
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