Wednesday, July 14, 2010


When it comes to social news, there is tendency for reporters to group people showing similar social behaviours into families. Such grouping, on one hand, can help to simplify explanation of social issues while on the other, provide a common lingo for public to engage in discussion of social trends.

To have a quick feel of a society, an easy way is to look at the various families which constitute it. More often than not, these 'families' reveal the dysfunctional side of a society. You are warned.

Have you come across the following Korean 'families'? The name of the families may sound unique but the related social phenomenom may not be altogether unique to the Korean society.

Helicopter Family (헬리콥터족)

In a survey conducted by a 'temporary job' portal (알바문) in Sep 09, 64.8% of the 839 undergraduates whom responded, believe they are 'mama boy (girl)'. The reasons given are they will first look for their parents when difficulties arise, their parents have great influence over their decision and they rarely disobey the wish of their parents.

When it comes to decision making, 63.2% of them will rely on their parents while only 20.6% make their own decision. Among those who rely on their parents, 29.4% said they trust the judgment of their parents because of their age and experience. 17.1% said past examples show that following the wish of parents will usually bring good results. 16.4% said they don’t want to go against their parents’ wish.

About half of the undergraduates think that their parents belong to the ‘helicopter family’. Helicopter family refers to parents who will ‘hover’ around their children like a helicopter, watching their every move and exerting their influence regularly, be it their children's study, marriage or work. (Source: 한국경제, 24 Sep 2009)

Kangoroo Family (캥거루족)

'Kangaroo Family' refers to the group of young people in their twenties, who are still financially reliance on their parents. Some of them are not keen to look for a job. Those employed, lack the ability to think independently although they are supposed to be old enough to take care of themselves. These young people resemble baby kangaroos which sit comfortably in the pouch of their parents.

Neet Family (니트족)

Neet is short for 'Not in Education, Employment or Training'. Normally, it refers to people (15 -34 years old) who are not attending school and are jobless. According to a report released by the Hyundai Economic Research Institute in 2005, Korea has about 187,000 Neets in 2004. By 2015, it is predicted the number will swell to 853,900 forming 11.7% of the population. The increasing Neet population will lead to drop in productivity and fall of GDP. Many social problems related to joblessness will also gain prominence.

NG Family (NG족)

NG is not 'No Good'. NG (No Graduation) Family refers to those undergraduates who choose to delay their graduation until they find a job. To do this, they would either take temporary rest from study or take their time to fulfill the credits necessary for graduation. With the introduction of ‘graduation delay system’ this year, undergraduates who fulfilled all the graduation criteria can also choose to delay their graduation as long as they want to. Undergraduates who make use of this system, together with the existing NG Family, is called the ‘Pan-NG Family’. Korea runs a four-year university system but it is not uncommon these days for students to take 5 years or more to graduate. It was reported that employment rate for graduates in Korea hovers between 50% and 60%. This means for every 10 graduates there will be 4-5 of them who will be jobless.

'Momo' Family (모모족)

'모모' means '모두 빛' (everything is debt) and '모두 짝퉁' (everything is fake). 'Momo' Family refers to a group of people who like branded goods but could hardly afford them. In order to satisfy their desires, they will either go into debt to buy genuine stuff or settle for fake goods.

Gallery Family (갤러리족)

Gallery Family refers to employees who have no sense of belonging to the companies they work for. They go to work for the sake of working and when better opportunity arises, they will have no qualm quitting their current job.

The term ‘Gallery Family’ became entrenched in 1997 following the outset of the Asian currency crisis when many employees were retrenched due to enterprise restructuring. Before the crisis, employees would most likely consider the companies they work for as their lifetime workplace. For the sake of their companies, they were willing to bury themselves in work even if it meant working overtime everyday. But with the massive retrenchment, the mindset of company loyalty was demolished overnight. Promotion was no longer an effective tool in retaining employees as job security was not guaranteed. To keep their jobs, employees would do the bare essentials and when better offers came, they had no hesitation jumping ship.

To the ‘Gallery Family’, the fate of the company is the least of their concern. They are just like the gallery (spectators) in a golf match; when a better player emerges, they will cheer and move along with that player. It was reported that out of 10 Koreans, 3 considered themselves as the ‘Gallery Family’. However, 8 out of 10 will consider switching jobs if they are offered something better. So much for capitalism's contribution to a better society.

Rice-'tudy' Family (밥터디족)

It is a combination of ‘meal club’ and 'study club' wherein a group of friends come together to eat and study. For the sake of getting better exam results, 'Rice-tudy Family' will revise and discuss about the study notes they took during the day over their meals. Life as a Korean student must have been very stressful, so much so that they can't even enjoy their meals in peace.

Re-born Family (리본족)

'Re-born Family' refers to those financially stable men who are divorced but have intention to remarry. This group of men tends to be also more well-mannered, sophisticated and sensitive to the opposite sex. It was reported that women, regardless of singles or divorcees, are slowly finding them attractive. In particular, the case of Gold Miss* marrying man from the 'Re-born Family' is getting more frequent these days.

*Gold Miss (골드미스) refers to female singles between 30 and 40 years of age who are well-educated and accomplished in their careers. This term is said to be created by the commercial sector for marketing purpose and is derived from another Konglish word 'Old Miss' which refers to old unmarried women.


  1. 선배님

    Topik정보가 주셔서 고마워요. Are you taking the Topik시험too?


  2. Hi Xaviere,

    이번에는 시험을 안 보면 좋겠다고 생각해요.
    콤플렉스가 있으니까요 ㅋㅋ