The Elegant Poverty
The Elegant Poverty
  • Park Jun-young(ST Reporter)
  • 승인 2020.04.09 14:27
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 Amid soaring housing prices and difficulties in securing a job, it seems like the younger generation has found a way to look 'elegant'.ㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍ ㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍ ㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍ ㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍㆍ ㆍㆍEd


 “Difficult Life” and “Competition and Survival” are the most common expressions used by older generations when describing the youth. Teenagers have been fiercely competing to enter college, but they are also frustrated by the high barriers to employment.

 However, the Korea Institute for Public Administration’s survey on social integration showed a slightly different result. According to the report, happiness while people are in their 20s and 30s was 6.6 and 6.7 on a scale of 1 to 10, which was higher than the overall average of 6.5. Satisfaction with life was higher than in other generations, and those in their 20s and 30s who were satisfied with life were 61.9% and 65.7%, which was much higher than the average.


 We ask these questions based on the results of the survey: Are the neologisms for young people, such as “N-po generation (generation pause)” and “dirt spoon (plastic spoon)” just exaggerating their pain?

 In his book and paper, The Sociology of the Bokhak King, Choi Jong-ryeol, a professor of sociology at Keimyung University, argued that the life of young people is explained as “adequacy.” The term adequacy here does not mean slipshod. It means pursuing small and personal goals centering on the relationship between oneself and the people around him or her, which is the opposite concept of immersionism, which constantly strives to climb to the top level toward power, capital, and worldly ‘success.’ This adequacy begins with abandonment.

 For example, take the N-po generation for example. When referring to the “Sam-po generation” that gave up three things (love, marriage, and childbirth), or the “O-po generation (love, marriage, childbirth, employment, and home-building),” the general premise is that young people can give up everything. But no “N-po youth” gives up all three or five things, and most of them take the attitude of giving up something else instead of strategically choosing one. It is just like a man who works and is married, a newlywed couple who does not have a child, and a man who lives in a moderately consuming way while giving up his house.

 In the recently published book, Life Trend 2020, the keyword that describes the millennial generation is “Elegant Poverty.” It is a term for the attitude in life that pursues value even in poor situations. The term is very suitable in explaining the lives of poor but happy, young people.

 The elegant attitude toward poverty is not trying to get better, but to live happily in their present situations. It is to escape from words such as effort, work, and success, and to move toward values such as me, pleasure, and satisfaction.

 The most important thing about “Elegant Poverty” is search and experience. How can we be happy even in poverty? Young people continue to explore and experience it to realize “Elegant poverty.” They were previously described as leisure activities, but they are not remaining work that can be done after their priority-working.

 In this society, where successism is prevalent, “Elegant Poverty” is an adventure: instead of wealth and power, it refers to respecting life itself. “Elegant” is no longer the exclusive property of the rich. Even in the social structure of Korea, which is aptly explained by the term “Hell Chosun,” the life that young people choose and accept can also be one of “Elegance.”


Park Jun-young (ST Reporter)

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