This study endeavors to critically analyze the youth problem in Korea by investigating the social conditions that influence their lives and thoughts. Theresearch focuses the interplay between the societal structures that regulatethe lives of young people and the roles and perceptions that the youth hold inthe society in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the youthexperience in Korea.
This study is an attempt to understand the nature of the current situationsurrounding the youth of Korea from a historical and comparative perspective. We tried to identify the social conditions that define the lives oftoday’s youth in Korea, as well as the characteristics of their lives. In other words, we attempted to examine the structure and system that regulate the life of young people on one hand and the roles and perceptions of young people on the other hand.
Chapter 1 places the context in which the current situation of young people emerged in the context of the formation and change of the modern life course. Chapter 2 traces how the concept of youth was formed and changed in Korea through the analysis of newspaper articles. Chapter 3 captures the structure of discourse on young people since the 2000s. In Korean society, the concept of youth has changed from a ‘social’ phenomenon to a ‘cultural’ phenomenon, to an ‘economic’ phenomenon. Chapter 4 checks how general changes in the modern life course are revealed in the context of Korea. The characteristics of Korea are also confirmed in a comparative study on the structure of youth employment (chapter 5). Korea is an example of ‘jobless growth’. This transitional context seems to be reflected in the role structure and perception structure of young people. Chapter 6 compares the roles and thoughts of young people in 7 countries during the transition to adulthood. Chapter 7 historically examines the flow of the young population movement. Although the total population movement decreased, the movement of young people from the region to the metropolitan area increased. In Chapters 8 and 9, aspects of subjective perception, such as the perception of inequality and happiness among young people, were reviewed. Chapter 10 reviews policy on young people. Many of the policies focus on employment. The case analysis in Chapter 11 shows that policies need to consider the wider context.
The implications of the study indicate that there is a need to critically re-evaluate the way in which Korean society perceives and understands youth. Traditionally, the societal focus on youth has been centered on the notions of ‘preparing young people for employment and marriage’, which is based on the assumptions of those who view these events as natural life experiences. This perspective is instrumental in nature and may not be adequate in light of the current societal changes. The implication of this recognition is that adolescence should no longer be viewed as a transitional stage, an immature stage, but rather as a life stage that is worthy of recognition in its own right. This shift in perspective calls for a move away from the notion of “doing something for young people” and instead, providing them with channels and opportunities for participating, voicing and decision-making.