Koreans’ top New Year tradition is stressing out

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Koreans’ top New Year tradition is stressing out

With the Lunar New Year holidays just around the corner, it’s time for Korean adults to stress out.

In a recent survey conducted by Seoul Digital University in Mapo District, western Seoul, almost all adults (82.2 percent) said they were stressed about the upcoming national celebration, when families travel from all corners of the country to reunite.

The stress is worst for the married womenfolk, but almost no adult is spared.

In a country where gender roles are still very distinct in households, married women complained that they were forced to do an excessive amount of kitchen duty over the holiday. Married men lamented their money was being sucked out of their wallets by the young.

Single Koreans, both male and female, said they dreaded the holiday because the elders take every opportunity to badger them into getting married “before it’s too late.”

The survey, conducted between Jan. 4 and 11, was answered by 382 respondents at Seoul Digital University aged between 20 and 59. Among them, 133 people were married women, 86 were married men, 99 were single women and 64 were single men.

The Lunar New Year holidays, referred here as Seollal, run between Feb. 7 and 10.

When asked whether the upcoming holidays would be stressful, 86 percent of married women replied yes, while 80 percent of their male counterparts agreed. Among single women, 81 percent said “yes,” exceeding the single male respondents of 78 percent.

As to the reasons why, the most frequent answer among married women, at 36 percent, turned out to be domestic chores, particularly cooking; 30 percent cited financial expenses, like giving out holiday cash gifts to pre-adult relatives or buying gifts for elder grownups and siblings.

When married men were asked the same question, 35 percent cited holiday financial outlays, followed by traffic congestion (21 percent). Only 7 percent said they would be stressed due to domestic work demanded of them.

For singles, the biggest complaint from both genders was nagging by grownups, shared by 28 percent for men and 30 percent for women.

Only 5 percent of single men said domestic work was a major reason behind stress.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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