Life in My Room is Like a Prision
Life in My Room is Like a Prision
  • Son Jung-a
  • 승인 2007.08.13 11:04
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   HAVE YOU EVER HEARD of the term 'Hikikomori'? 'Hikikomori', is a Japanese word which, in the dictionary, means 'be confined'.  Today, it means people who are confined in their house for a long period of time, usually over six months. Recently, 'Hikikomori' has become an object of public concern in Japan, as it has been increasing since 1990.  In particular, the increase of instances of 'Hikikomori' among the youth, is a great shock to Japanese people.
   People in 'Hikikomori' don't go out of the house. This is the predominant feature of 'Hikikomori'. What is worse, they also often show aggressive tendencies, such as hitting their parents. After an economic slump, they are confined in their house because they don't have a job to do, so they lose their self-confidence. In addition, within nuclear families the spread of internet use is another reason we see 'Hikikomori' increasing.  Especially, 'Hikikomori' is increasing in middle-class families where we see a greater respect for privacy.
   Then, what are the symptoms of 'Hikikomori' in Korea?
   'Hikikomori' was called the reclusive loners in Korea. Most reclusive loners have experienced the breakup of their families, and have been outsiders and overprotected children during the adolescent period. Another reason for their appearance is living in a society which values one's scholastic potential most. The reclusive loners have some common features. First, they don't have friends and don't talk with their family. Also, they eat alone. The reclusive loners don't cook their own food. If they live with their family, they have precooked food and their families leave while they eat. Likewise, they sleep during the day and watch TV or surf the Internet at night. In addition, they exhibit features such as playing on another's affection, regression, melancholia and avoidance of trouble.
   Presently, in Korea, reclusive loners aren't a big social problem in comparison to Japan. However, the number of people who feel a heavy burden from people looking at them is increasing. Due to an increase in the number of people staying at rooming houses, electronic companies are producing a greater number of small refrigerators, televisions and rice kettles. Consequently, the reclusive loners are playing 'Robinson Crusoe' in the rooming homes that guarantee a private life. Because living in a rooming house is never inconvenient, some of the rooming houses even have a rule that people living there pretend not to notice each other. Furthermore, there is a consultation office for people, who want to avoid people's watching them at dental clinics, hair shops and banks, etc..
   The larger society is experiencing a lot of problems due to the appearance of the reclusive loner. First, despite the fact that people are aware of the features of the reclusive loners, some people don't recognize them as such. Second, society is losing their manpower. The reclusive loners abound among the youth, so the number of active people in society is decreasing. Third, society could turn into an entirely individualistic society. These types of societies experience group egoism, anomie and the collapse of the union.  This puts society in danger of decreased national development and the continuance of this dangerous system.
   By solving this problem, the people suffering from 'Hikikomori' will gain peace of mind, and may think as follows: 'I am a part of society, and they are on my side of the fence and I trust myself.' Also, it is a great help to use the daily activities of life to divert them. For example, they should be made to do little things such as brushing their teeth and buying some life necessities on a continual basis. At the same time, they should make a goal that is small and concrete. Then, they practice achieving this goal. Therefore, they experience success and find out themselves. At that time, they will realize that their life has meaning through setting and reaching this small, but concrete goal.
   Koreans are warm-hearted more than other countries'. There is an old proverb that say, 'The happiness increases if you share, and the sadness decreases if you share.'  Like this saying, if the larger society makes an effort to tolerate the social stragglers, they will no longer remain reclusive loners.

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