Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ask a Korean! News: Pissed-off Young Men, Coming Soon to American Political Arena

The extent to which Korean social phenomenon sometimes presages American social phenomenon is astonishing.
The U.S. will have to produce 10 million new jobs just to get back to the unemployment levels of 2007. There’s no sign that that is going to happen soon, so we’re looking at an extended period of above 8 percent unemployment.

The biggest impact is on men. Over the past few decades, men have lagged behind women in acquiring education and skills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at age 22, 185 women have graduated from college for every 100 men who have done so. Furthermore, men are concentrated in industries where employment is declining (manufacturing) or highly cyclical (construction).

So men have taken an especially heavy blow during this crisis. The gap between the male and female unemployment rates has reached its highest level since the government began keeping such records.


It’s pretty easy to take these economic facts and draw stark cultural consequences. Long-term unemployment is one of the most devastating experiences a person can endure, equal, according to some measures, to the death of a spouse. Men who are unemployed for a significant amount of time are more likely to drink more, abuse their children more and suffer debilitating blows to their identity. Unemployed men are not exactly the most eligible mates. So in areas of high unemployment, marriage rates can crumble — while childbearing rates out of wedlock do not.
The Lean Years (New York Times)

If you recall, the Korean recently wrote about how Korea's high unemployment among young adults is leading to the creation of a deeply pissed off social group that wields disproportionate amount of impact on politics thanks to the Internet. We could be seeing the same thing in America within the next ten years. Not a pleasant picture, certainly.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. Is the deeply pissed-off social group "The Tea Party," because it seems like they're not quite sure what they're angry about, but that most of them are poor?

  2. Not a 100 percent match, but that's a reasonable application.

  3. This has already happened in the UK, in that the unemployment in the UK is stunning. In Manchester all of the factories here and there are gone, the ones that remain use robots. Though it is tempered by the fact that the benefits system (when considering every benefit that can be claimed) is quite generous compared to the US and probably S Korea.

    In that people have nothing to lose and some of the violence is incredible, people who are stabbed to death because they didn't have a light or wouldn't go buy them beer etc.

    While in Seoul I felt none of this, though asking out Korean girls was always risky what with all men being conscripted and learning Taekwondo in the army. They just waved my their fingers at me and said NO!.

  4. I'm not so sure I agree with you. I explain here:

  5. Hey, in my town, the angry unemployed young men don't go on the internet to bitch about their plight. They do this:


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