Young jobseekers are growing more anxious as the job market becomes tougher, and puberty struggles often continue into their 20s as their chances to take responsibility for themselves dwindle.
According to Statistics Korea, the age when people first enter the workforce has risen from 22.5 in 2004 to 23.6, and the proportion of university graduates who find jobs has declined to 64.4 percent.
In other words, more than one-third of graduates do not immediately find a job and flounder on, largely dependent on their parents.
Psychologists say people in their 20s are experiencing a great deal of stress as it gets harder to cross the threshold into adulthood, which commonly means finding work.
Kwak Keum-joo at Seoul National University said, “In Korea, where people tend to be very conscious of how others perceive them, young jobseekers who are having a tough time finding work are displaying typically adolescent behaviors as they bottle up stress and anxiety”.
Online chat boards are filled with messages by young people complaining about pressure from their parents to submit more job applications or how their declining self-confidence is causing them to shun friends and family.
But parents are also stressed out. One mother of a graduate said, “My daughter used to be very obedient even in adolescence, but she’s become really hard to deal with”.
And another said, “The stress level soars in families where children are looking for jobs whenever the hiring season approaches”.
Some jobseekers drop off the radar during hiring season or throw tantrums because it is all too much. One 29-year-old jobseeker said, “I have no peace of mind and find it difficult to be understanding and kind to others, so please bear with me until I find a job. I’m having a tough time controlling my emotions even though I know I shouldn’t be acting like this”.
Kwak said, “We need to take measures to prevent depression and antisocial behavior among young jobseekers as they struggle to escape their prolonged adolescence”.