From one's birth, people get to join the world of competition irrespective of their will, especially if they are born in Korea. Competing with others has become a part of life for Koreans as people consider being a winner an ultimate goal of their life.
This is clearly shown in our daily life where television programs with high popularity mostly deal with auditions of singers and actors struggling to beat others. In these survival programs, only the winner receives an enormous prize as well as recognition from the public while the losers are forgotten by everyone without reward.
In other words, competition dominates Korean society today, making everyone dedicate themselves to being a winner. Naturally, people who are used to the environment with the pressure to win are exhausted physically and mentally and susceptible to potential illnesses such as depression and characteristic disorders.
It seems that people in Korea are always busy with their work and study receiving much stress from their daily routines. In both the workplace and schools, people habitually say, "I'm so tired." This is not a phenomenon lasting for a few days or months but almost happening all year round.
This derives from many social factors but too much competition is the fundamental factor. The background of this Korean fatigue bothering people’s entire lives starts from childhood. Since they were young, people have been exposed to a highly competitive culture as they are expected to study hard and go to top-notch schools in order to succeed in the future.
A recent study revealed that Korean children have the lowest level of happiness among children from OECD countries. This high level of stress to be a top student lasts until graduation from university. However, further competition is encountered in the job market.
Unfortunately, even if employed, the stress from the workplace is the same as at school. Women have to fight against the male-oriented society, and people feel pressure for promotions and early retirement.
Another factor of Korean's chronic fatigue is low efficiency at work despite long working hours. While some companies have improved working condition to ease the burden for their workers, such as a five-day work week, most Korean companies still have long working hours that cause low efficiency and drain their employees.
Also Korean culture expects employees to participate in frequent gatherings that have contributed to people's stress at the workplace. To make matters worse, information technology in daily lives aggravates their fatigue.
While promptness is a strong advantage of modern technology, it makes people more stressed by increasing the work load caused by fast communication, and making them more obsessed to be prompt as well.
For instance, the boom of social networking services has created a new mental problem called "FTAD (Facebook Twitter addiction disorder)." People with this feel extremely nervous when they are away from their smartphones and computers, which causes them to feel exhausted, both physically and mentally.
In order to make Korean society free from the accumulation of fatigue and be energetic, a change in the way of thinking should be made. First and foremost, people need to break out of the “Superman syndrome” that each individual needs to be perfect in every task they perform.
They need to be comfortable in being imperfect and learn how to cope with problems positively. Especially for bosses and teachers, putting emphasis on the procedure of projects rather than the outcome should come first to prevent both workers and students from having excessive stress.
After changing one's attitude, our society needs to be reformed. To raise the efficiency of business, flexible working conditions should be introduced and excessive socialization must be avoided.
A simple change in working environment can allow workers to keep equilibrium between work and family accompanied by a positive impact of reducing stress by having leisure time with family members.
Kim Min-woo is a student attending Pusan Foreign Language High School. Her email address is email@example.com.