The author is a national news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.
There are some expressions that we became familiar with because of the Covid-19 outbreak, such as pandemic, self-quarantine, contactless and social distancing. The Collins Dictionary chose “lockdown” as the Word of the Year in 2020. It was not frequently used in everyday life in the past, but now, everyone around the world knows what lockdown means.
According to the dictionary, the word originates from prison terms, “the confining of prisoners to their cells, as following a riot or other disturbance.” The U.S. military uses “lockdown” to describe restrictions on vacation or outings for soldiers for extraordinary situations such as a war or exercise. In some sports, “lockdown defense” means keeping the other player closely in check.
Countless countries experienced lockdowns during Covid-19. Wuhan in Hubei Province, China, where Covid-19 supposedly started, was completely isolated from late January to early April last year in a strict lockdown. Cities with surging cases in the United States, Europe and Australia had lockdowns. Fortunately, Korea hasn’t had to resort to a lockdown yet.
Though Koreans haven’t experienced lockdown, it is not easy to get through the age of coronavirus. People complain about inconvenience.
Young people especially feel uncertain and depressed about the future. The International Labor Organization calls young people suffering from the impact of Covid-19 a “lockdown generation.” They struggle from poverty due to reduced educational and employment opportunities. They may be called the “knockdown generation,” not the “lockdown generation.”
The tunnel of coronavirus is long. Even when we reach the end of the tunnel, it is unlikely the younger generations will be able to see the light. The government and industries need to work together to resolve the issue.
At a cabinet meeting on April 13, President Moon Jae-in asked for special measures because “If we don’t resolve the hardship of the young people, they could become the ‘lockdown generation.’” I hope it’s not political rhetoric to appease the anger expressed by twentysomething voters in the April 7 mayoral by-elections. There’s no future for a country where young people are in despair.