Normal Crush: the Pursuit of Happiness through a Normal Life

윤진현l승인2018.09.16l수정2018.11.16 22:56l364호 1면

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 'I have decided to pursue happiness through an ordinary life’, a typical statement used by people to describe their pursuit of a Normal Crush, a lifestyle choice that’s gaining in popularity around the world. Normal Crush is a newly coined expression that describes being drawn to a simpler life. It recognizes the rigors of real life and as a result, encourages people to focus on small goals that are easily achieved. This new lifestyle contradicts the elements of a stereotypical better life as we know it in Korea. Already a growing number of Koreans are tired of pursuing the ideal traditional life and are giving up on getting married and having families of their own. The growing popularity of Normal Crush makes it clear that the time has come to give up on following a lifestyle that is expected and instead build our own lives in the pursuit of our own happiness. 

 Korean society has long since regarded competition and climbing the social and economic ladders as the only worthwhile goals, but they are not. A boring daily routine can be a source of great happiness for some and there is no distinction in rank for happiness. A prime example of a Normal Crush is being satisfied with a simple but comfortable space. In particular, areas such as Iksun-dong, Buam-dong, and Mangwon-dong in Korea are sought after by people who defer to a Normal Crush. Another example is Normcore fashion. Normcore describes fashion that is comfortable and basic, a style that has its own merits. In other words, those who seek Normal Crush fashion emphasize freedom and comfort. 
▲ The Oldest Hanok Village in Seoul, Iksun-dong (Photo by Yonhap News)

 Those who pursue a Normal Crush lifestyle also focus on finding their own valuable work instead of what will offer them the greatest financial and social return. Stereotypical ideas of a successful lifestyle in Korea mean going to a good school and getting a job in a big company. However, in reality, this dream is harder to achieve than ever before and it does not bring people the happiness they expected. Over the last few decades, Korea has achieved unprecedented rapid economic growth. However, there are prices to pay for this swift growth. Social problems have arisen as the level of satisfaction people have with their lives falls. According to the U.N.'s Global Happiness Report, Korea's happiness index stood at 5.84 out of 10 points, ranking 56th out of 155 countries in the world. Meanwhile, Korea ranks 28th in the gross domestic product (GDP) per capital proving the economic and happiness scales show very different results. Put simply, the happiness index will continue to fall as society remains fixed to the idea of a lifetime of hard work, while at the same time youth unemployment is worsening.

▲ Suicide rate per 100,000 people (Picture was taken by Yonhap News)
 The expectation that was once held by the older generation was that tomorrow will be better than today is nothing but a distant story for modern youth. Daehaknaeil's laboratory asked 800 men and women aged 20 to 39, "Will you concentrate more on your daily life and leisure rather than focusing on your success in the future?" 78 percent of the respondents said yes. (2017 Millennium Happiness Value Study) In the face of excessive competition, many peoples distrusted their own ability and efforts to overcome the challenges they faced, so they are opting instead, to pursue a Normal Crush lifestyle. 

 Critics say that the people who choose to pursue a Normal Crush life are actually avoiding reality and giving up because they are weak-willed. But we still have freedom of choice. Our society's recipe for happiness is no longer the norm. "Failure in life ends with only other person, not himself," said novelist Bernard Werber. After all, the most important thing to people who pursue a Normal Crush life is to satisfy only themselves. There is great value in the pursuit of individual happiness. 

 Normal Crush is not just a Korean phenomenon. People around the world have the dream of finding the happiness that stems from leading an ordinary life. 'Kinfolk Life', originated in the United States and refers to the lifestyle of people who live simply in nature. In Denmark, the 'Hygge' is a comfortable and pleasant state with a large group of family or friends. In Sweden ‘Lagom’ refers to a simple lifestyle where people grow herbs in their windows filling up space with life. What they all have in common is that instead of presenting grand goals or economic and social success, they all focus on the moment. Those who opt for living a Normal Crush lifestyle, find happiness in living an ordinary life. They value every moment rather than defer their happiness for some point in the future. This change is meaningful because our nation has been overworked and our quality of life has long been ignored. Let's hope that now the average person can put an end to deferred happiness and instead find greater satisfaction in a normal everyday life.

윤진현  dankookherald@gmail.com
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