SEOUL, Dec. 15 (Korea Bizwire) – With less than three weeks left before the end of 2017, not everyone in South Korea is excited about the festive season, particularly young people who are mired in record high unemployment this year.
To many people, December is often associated with holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve, as retail sales generally go up and reflect brighter moods towards the end of the year.
However, it’s not the case for everyone, as many people are feared to experience end-of-year blues in the coming weeks.
End-of-year depression is also known as the holiday blues, a psychological symptom defined by groups like the American Psychological Association as feelings of tension and sadness resulting from a number of factors such as loneliness, failing to meet expectations, being constrained by financial difficulties, and reflection on failures in the past.
Feelings of loneliness are often thought to intensify over the few weeks in the run up to the end of the year, as being left with no other choice than remaining alone at home contrasts sharply with the generally festive atmosphere in public.
Another factor is the weather, as psychologists say a lack of exposure to sunlight in the winter can contribute to decreased levels of serotonin production, which can affect one’s mood and psychological stability.
Melatonin levels, which are also dependent on sunlight exposure, drop in the winter, resulting in fatigue and tiredness.
A 24-year-old university student who was referred to only as ‘A’ says it’s hard to concentrate on studying with just three more weeks to go before 2018.
“I can’t seem to be able to study for my finals,” the student said.
Similar stories are often heard around this time of year, especially among those who have failed to reach their goals set a year ago despite having tried hard.
According to a survey conducted by recruiting website Job Korea last week, 7 in 10 job seekers experienced increased stress towards the end of the year.
Over 37 percent described their mood as ‘more depressed and droopy’, while around 26 percent said they were ‘excited’.
Feelings of uncertainty and sadness were not limited to job seekers, according to the survey, as university students and those currently employed also dealt with uncertain futures.
One office worker expressed regret over having failed to meet diet and self improvement goals.
‘I feel like I could have achieved my last year’s resolutions if I went about things differently.”
According to the survey, nearly 7 in 10 job seekers reported feeling anxious and stressed with the lack of progress in finding a job, while a similar number of university students returned the same answer.
Over half of the respondents who are currently employed also shared similar feelings as they hoped to change jobs.
With less than 10 percent feeling relaxed about job hunting efforts, not many young people seem to be embracing the spirit of Christmas cheer.
Reasons behind end-of-year depression varied between workers and university students, including job seekers.
‘Financial difficulties’ and ‘uncertainty’ were among the most cited sources of anxiety for workers, while more than half of university students felt either defeated due to an unsuccessful job search or felt like they had wasted a whole year.
The Ministry of Strategy and Finance has already acknowledged the issue of high youth unemployment and pledged to implement more measures to create jobs next year.
“We’ll focus on job creation and eliminating obstacles of employment for vulnerable social groups in crafting next year’s economic policy,” the finance ministry said.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)