Sense of Social Isolation & Loneliness in Korea Increases in 2020

South Koreans are expressing an increasing sense of social isolation and loneliness in 2020 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

The big picture: With soaring housing prices, increasing youth unemployment, and a rapidly aging population, Koreans are struggling to maintain a sense of connection with others.

Statistics Korea reports that 22.3% of all South Koreans report they are lonely.

Covid-19: Koreans are divorcing more since 2020. Relationships are being put to the test during the pandemic.

Data show that Korea is suffering world record lows in birthrate, increasing the proportion of Koreans aged over 60-years-old.

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have stated that “Older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and hearing loss.:

“The Fairer Sex”: It has long been reported that women are disproportionately susceptible to feelings of social isolation and loneliness.

  • Academic studies show a connection between social media use and feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
  • With the pandemic increasing our social media, remote work, and screen consumption habits, feelings of loneliness and isolation are making women more vulnerable.

A staggering 54.6% of Koreans who make under 1 million KRW per month ($1 USD = 1,125.50 KRW) report feeling socially isolated and lonely. Over a quarter of them say they have no close relationship with anyone.

  • Zoom in: All able-bodied South Korean men are conscripted into the armed forces. These young men are typically 18-30 years old, which is their physical and economic prime. However, conscripted soldiers make only 450,000 – 600,000 KRW per month, which is at most $533.
  • As a result: Suicide among Korean army conscripts has long been an issue, exacerbated by isolated conditions, poor food, and hazing.

Koreans attribute growing income and wealth inequality to their unhappiness.


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