Social Phenomenon

Hell Joseon

2016.02

About Hell Joseon phenomenon in Korea
Social Phenomenon
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Korea is a country that has overcome multiple national crises with “pan-national unity.”

  • For example, the South Korean people rallied together with the “Saemaeul (New Community) Movement” after the Korean War, the “Gold Collection Campaign” during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and a nationwide salary freeze and a dramatic increase of work hours during the financial crisis of 2007-08.

However, a newly coined phrase, “Hell Joseon” is spreading rapidly throughout the younger generations of South Korea.

  • Hell Joseon: a phrase expressed by the Korean youth that captures both the despair and the desire to depart Korea due to the recent surge of unresolved national issues, including the Sewol ferry accident/comfort women settlements (political), slow growth/restructuring (economic), and MERS (societal).

The reason why “Hell Joseon” is a serious societal issue is because it reflects the defeatist attitude adopted by the youth who believe that their efforts to better the future are wasted on the privileged, who are the ultimate benefactors of their hard work.


At the same time, fewer Koreans believe in making a collective effort to overcome Korea’s problems. Rather, they believe that exerting themselves for Korea is like beating a dead horse, leading them to further distrust society and to resort to individualistic behaviors.

  • Stubborn distrust in the government and leading corporations has led many to think, “There is no hope in Korea,” or “Why should I pay taxes for leaders of society?” Thus, the phrase, “Hell Joseon” describes a nation full of people whose sole dream is to leave the country.

As a result, Korean social media overflow with mockeries of the current state of the country, and an overwhelming number of comments online emptily echo, “Let’s leave Joseon.”


What do you think about the “Hell Joseon” phenomenon? What is the current political/ economic/social state of Korea? What needs to happen for Korea to overcome the crisis?

Please explain the phrase, “Hell Joseon” to your Ringle Tutor in English , and please share your opinion on the cause and discuss your proposed solution to this phenomenon.

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