When life gives you the coronavirus blues, be mindful and eat a lemon

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When life gives you the coronavirus blues, be mindful and eat a lemon


Left: YouTubers do the “eating lemon challenge.” Right: The developers of meditation app Kokkiri, Buddhist monk Haemin, left, and Daniel Tudor, meditate together. [SCREEN CAPTURE, KOKKIRI]

If you can’t go to work due to the coronavirus outbreak, how do you fill the long hours at home?

By using apps and surfing the net, of course, checking out online recipes, reading tips for working out, meditating in the living room and by eating lemons on YouTube.

Compared to last December, that golden age before the coronavirus outbreak, downloads of Wife’s Cuisine, an app for sharing recipes, saw a 20 percent increase. Yang Joon-kyu, CEO of the company, says a video titled “Four Easy and Simple Dishes” uploaded a month ago on YouTube has been a runaway success.

“I think a lot of cooking novices are watching it,” Yang says. “I recently uploaded a video called ‘Six Healing Foods to Boost Your Immunity,’ and I am receiving positive feedback from my subscribers.”

Staying at home clearly translates into lots of home cooking. Sales of both food and kitchenware have skyrocketed.

Cookat Market, an online food vendor popular among young people living alone, also saw a 31 percent spike in sales in March.

All that home cooking must be leading to weight gains because workout routines designed for homes are also more popular than ever. Mydano, an app that offers an online personal training service, surpassed 10,000 monthly subscribers last month compared to 9,200 last November. SoundGym, an audio fitness app, also saw its average number of downloads increase 36.45 percent and its revenue rise 45.86 percent compared to three weeks before.

In the entertainment sector, people are turning to new over-the-top video streaming services and even new sources of that classic entertainment medium called books. Watcha Play, an online movie streaming service, saw a 36.9 percent increase in the amount of time subscribers spend watching videos in March compared to Jan. 20, when the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Korea, while Millie’s Library, a subscription-based e-book provider, saw a 58 percent increase in monthly active users on March 9 compared to Feb. 23.

To overcome the coronavirus blues, some are getting metaphysical. The meditation app Kokkiri, which offers relaxing music, natural sounds and meditation instructions, went from 10,000 subscribers in the first week of this month to over 200,000 subscribers as of Monday.

Lucid Island, another mobile app promoting a mindful antidote to contagion anxiety, had a 120 percent increase in monthly subscribers this month compared to last month. Even more alarming: The average number of daily replays per user increased by 95 percent. “After the spread of the coronavirus infection, the demand for peaceful music has increased,” Yoon Seo-ho, a director of the company, says.

On the flip side, times are so bad that fortune-telling apps like Forceteller are facing existential crises - which they really should have foreseen. “The majority of our users are from the young generation who want romance forecasts,” says Forceteller’s CEO Shim Kyung-jin. “But with the opening of schools delayed, many users left our service this month, thinking there is no chance to meet someone and build a relationship.”

Maybe those lonely young people forsook fortune telling for a more practical route to meeting true love: eating lemons.

Three weeks ago, the “eating lemon challenge” started becoming popular on YouTube. The challenge is to eat a whole lemon after washing your hands, which is supposed to be fun, a bonding exercise and a way to boost the immune system. In addition, every lemon challenge participant can donate 190,000 won ($155) to the National Disaster Relief to support communities most vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak.

The moral for these troubled times? When life gives you lemons, do something with them on YouTube.

BY KIM JUNG-MIN [kim.yeonah@joongang.co.kr]
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