- Some South Koreans are so stressed, they’re paying to book time slots at cafes to sit and do nothing.
- These spaces are available in Seoul, and are quickly snapped up by those looking to get away from other people.
- Phones must be switched to silent, and one must refrain from talking in the space.
Some South Koreans are so stressed, they’re forking out cash to visit indoor spaces where they can space out and do nothing.
The burgeoning trend was reported by The Washington Post’s Michelle Lee, who looked into spaces in Seoul that people are paying to go to zone out. Instead of venturing out into the great outdoors, however, Seoulites are opting for indoor chill zones.
The Green Lab, a cafe near nature hotspot Seoul Forest, allows customers to reserve time slots in the cafe’s quiet space.
Within this room, which faces the lush greenery of Seoul Forest, customers must put their phones in silent mode and refrain from speaking.
“It’s so hard to find spaces in Korean society where it’s acceptable to do absolutely nothing,” Green Lab employee, Bae Hyun, told The Post. “People seem to be finding more interest in this, though I think it will take some more time for it to become widely popular.”
Another place in Seoul to get away from people and empty one’s head of all thoughts is movie theaters, which are running special features to cater to those who want a peaceful, non-stimulating experience. According to The Post, Seoul’s Megabox movie theaters this month sold $US6 ($AU8) tickets to “Flight,” a film that’s a simulation of a 40-minute plane ride. The film, advertised with the tagline “Take a brief rest through the fluffy clouds,” is a sequel to another zone-out-worthy movie, “Fire Mung,” which is just a 31-minute video of a crackling fire.
South Korea is known for its fast-paced lifestyle, where the harsh realities of mounting debt and unaffordable homes are taking their toll, particularly among Seoul’s millennials. The Korea Herald recently reported the results of a survey of 1,016 South Koreans, which found that 70% admitted they were feeling stressed. In that same survey, 46.5% of poll respondents in their twenties reported feeling depressed.
With this demand for chill-out spaces, niche locales to sit and be still have popped up outside Seoul, too. Jeju Island cafe Goyose offers a reservation-only space for people to get some me-time. Similarly, Mung Hit, a cafe on South Korea’s coastal Ganghwa Island, has designated silent areas for customers to unwind and relax.
Ji Ok-jung, manager of Mung Hit, told The Post that the idea of “hitting mung” simply means emptying one’s mind and heart to make room for new thoughts.
“It’s a place where people can heal themselves. It’s something only you can do for yourself, not something someone else can do for you, and we wanted to facilitate that for everyone exhausted by the demands of modern life,” Ji told The Post.