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Seo Jeong-min
The author is a senior reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

A few days ago, one of my acquaintances asked me, “When will the day come? I mean the day we’ll finally enjoy the joy of yuktoe?” 
Yuktoe is an abbreviation of yuka toegeun, with yuka meaning childcare and toegeun referring to leaving the office. The word refers to the harsh reality where parents can only be free from non-stop childcare after their kids are asleep, a feeling that isn't dissimilar to how most office workers feel when they finish work in the evening. Just like office workers value their own time after work, parents also need to yuktoe so that they can recharge themselves mentally and physically.
Well, it seems that there are more people who long for yuktoe than just parents with young children. The acquaintance told me her own experience: She has been saving money with her middle school classmates to go travel together after their kids grow up, but she recently realized that those days might never come. She asked her friends, “Why don’t we go abroad? Covid-related restrictions have started to get lifted in many countries.” 
Her friends answered: “My son is very sensitive these days, preparing for the university entrance exam,” “I need to pick up and drive my son to college prep institutes as he came to Korea while he’s studying abroad,” “My son is on leave from the army now, so I need to spend time with him” and “I should see my daughter. She’ll come back home soon from backpacking.” 
Their plans to travel abroad together have always come to nothing for the same reasons and the situation is unlikely to change, she said.
A news article I read online a few days ago crossed my mind. Its headline reads “Grown-ups being reliant on their parents again, old moms in their 60s want yuktoe.” The article covered the issue of children in their thirties and forties moving back to their parents’ homes as the price of rent and cost of living has abruptly skyrocketed. Old parents cannot help but sigh, while their independent kids cannot be fully at ease. When will the day of yuktoe come for parents in Korea?

BY SEO JEONG-MIN [meantree@joongang.co.kr]
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