Every New Year, while people gaze at the sun rise and sip on their rice-cake stew (떡국), they look at the year to come and make promises to themselves. In Korea, ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ is most commonly known as 새해 다짐 (‘saehae dajim’), or formally 신년의 각오 (‘sinnyeoneh gagho’). Like in most countries around the world, it is an important time to be with family, share hopes and set goals. While everyone makes their own personal promises, these are 5 of the most common resolutions made by residents of Korea.
While travelling used to mainly be a family activity consisting of package deals and kimchi in hotel rooms; now more Koreans want to travel alone or backpack with friends to be fully immersed in a new culture. A growing number of young people want to explore out of their comfort zone, as awareness and acknowledgement of other cultures grow and global experiences become more valued. It is especially trendy for those in their 20s and 30s to be brave and independent enough to go to Europe and America alone.
Learn A Language
Foreign language skills have become necessary when competing for jobs and schools. While Korea spends so much money on English education, it still fails to be a fluent nation. It is normally around this time when people vow to master an academic subject. While English is still a priority, Chinese, Japanese, and even other European languages are growing in popularity. Meanwhile, expats and gyopos may want to improve their Korean. Free language exchanges all over Seoul can help build conversational skills and confidence, while programs at academies and universities will provide a richer understanding.
Spend Less Money On Coffee
Coffee is one of the only things that is not cheap in Korea. A cup of coffee costs roughly ₩5,000, which is $5.00 or £2.85, which is the same price as a hearty meal in Korea. For some, coffee has become an expensive habit. Coffee chains in Korea like Angel In Us, and Starbucks have been hiking up their prices for a while now. Despite the price inflation, people continue to buy coffee because coffee shops have become a huge part of leisure and modern culture. The workaholic and busy lifestyle also contributes to the caffeine consumption culture, as caffeine is almost essential to function.
In a beauty centric and size conscious society, dissatisfaction with one’s weight is prevalent. The desire to become trimmer and slimmer every year is so common that Korean markets see a huge surge of diet pills and fitness clothes sale during these times. Gyms offer memberships, and it is a good opportunity to take up the national sport; Taekwondo, or simply cycling along the Han River. Trendy exercises like pilates and dancing are increasingly becoming popular ways to get fit.
A Healthy Year
Bestowing good health is the most common New Year greeting and is shared with family, friends, and colleagues, and this greeting has become a common courtesy. Traditional medicine made of herbs and roots is often given as gifts. It is common for people to cut down on alcohol or quit smoking, and cease other unhealthy habits.
In the end, Korea is no different from other countries. Everyone wishes the best for each other and takes every opportunity to improve, but like most people, resolutions are difficult to follow through on. While setting goals is important and starting a resolution can be fun and easy to begin with, do not to be overly ambitious. Maintaining good habits and achieving your target is the hardest challenge of all. There are many ways to keep up with initial goals and stay motivated throughout the year. There are many apps available like the EzHabit app which tracks daily progress and helps build healthy habits.
Make 2016 your best year yet!
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