May 13, 2023

Comparative culture with Nunchi in Korea

Nunchi and comparative culture in Korea can create feelings of displacement, but it's important to recognize that others face similar pressures. From birth, factors like birth city and educational achievements contribute to societal comparisons. These pressures extend into adulthood, impacting job status, possessions, and marriage expectations, leading to low birth rates and high suicide rates among Korean youth.

Navigating Comparative Culture in Korea: Insights into Social Pressures

When Nunchi intertwines with comparative culture in Korea, it can leave you feeling somewhat out of place. However, take solace in knowing that you are not alone in facing these pressures.

In my previous writings about Nunchi, I delved into its significance:

(Links to previous writings:Link 1Link 2)

Please check them out for further insights. Now, let's explore the realm of comparative culture in Korea—a topic that might make some individuals uncomfortable, but acknowledging the truth can be enlightening. Let's begin.

Comparative culture in Korea starts right from birth, encompassing factors such as the city of your birth, the address registered on your national ID code, the clothing your parents dress you in, and even the type of baby stroller they choose.

These comparisons grow more significant as you progress through childhood. The kindergarten you attend, whether it offers English instruction or not, the area where your primary/middle/high school is located, and the renowned university you study at—every step carries weight. Even within universities, your chosen major holds importance, as different majors require varying Korean SAT scores for admission. Discussing the daily struggles of competitiveness in school would delve into a realm of sadness and cruelty, so I will refrain from elaborating further.

Once you graduate and secure a job, Koreans are unafraid to inquire about your salary, including bonuses. The city in which your company's headquarters is located, the specific area you work in, and even the car you drive—all become subjects of scrutiny. Furthermore, your company's industry ranking and your job title also contribute to this comparative culture.

As illustrated above, when these comparisons are directed at you alone, they may seem like a fair game. After all, some people enjoy comparing and engaging in gossip. However, matters become far more intricate and exhausting when it comes to marriage.

Questions arise concerning the location of your future house, the type of car you will acquire, and even the manner in which you will propose to your partner (even if you were promised to marry a year prior). Considerations extend to the size of the apartment you will reside in, the gifts for your spouse's parents, and the expectations placed upon you by your spouse's family.

My apologies, but these aspects can be quite overwhelming, leaving a sense of repulsion. This is precisely why Korean youth hesitate to marry and start families. The nation's birth rate, hovering between 0.7 to 0.8, stands as one of the lowest in the world. Similarly, Korea's suicide rate remains among the highest globally.

Today's article presents the perspective of a young individual. Next time, I will delve into the competitive culture of Korean society from the viewpoint of middle-aged individuals. Stay tuned for further insights.