Korea is suffering from a loneliness epidemic.
Based on a survey conducted by the Korean Clinical Psychology Association (KCPA) on 317 of its members, experts assessed the psychological state of Korean society as having a score of 78 on the association’s solitude index.
The psychologists pointed out individualism (62.1 percent) as the primary cause of increased loneliness in Korea. Other factors included the deepening conflict between social classes (54.6 percent), prolonged economic recession (48.3 percent), confusion of social values (45.4 percent) and online-oriented communication change (36.3 percent).
The physicians identified problems such as depression, suicide, loneliness, work addiction, malicious comments and hate crimes as problems caused by loneliness. In line with their opinion, the association members answered the question "how much do you think loneliness of people is related to various mental and social problems that are presently occurring?” with a whopping average of 83 points.
“Prolonged competition, development of technology and the rapidly decreasing interaction of interpersonal relationship have made the public to prioritize 'I' rather than others,” said Professor Seo Soo-yeon of Sungshin University.
As such social tendencies grow, many people are isolating themselves, Professor Seo added.
When a person feels lonelier, it can deepen negative emotions such as depression or anxiety. If left untreated it can lead to a mental or social problem, she noted.
Among the measures to solve the social problems arising from loneliness were the establishment of national policies (61.8 percent) and the promotion of volunteer and social programs (55.5 percent). Experts stressed that altruistic emphasis could help relieve loneliness.
“The feeling of loneliness felt by the whole society cannot be solved by a single individual,” said Professor Cho Sun-mi, vice president of KCPA. “Regarding policy, efforts to build an infrastructure to alleviate the feeling of loneliness felt by people due to social structural problems are essential.”
Korea can only become free from loneliness when social solidarity is formed by small and large philanthropic practices from its citizens, Cho noted.
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