Pressure on the job or at school is among the causes of suicide. Image: iStock

Among the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea is notorious for suicides. In 2016, 25.6 people died per 100,000 population, a slight decrease from the previous year, but still much higher than Hungary, which saw the second-highest suicide rate in the OECD with 19.4 per 100,000. In South Korea, suicide has become one of the leading causes of death, particularly among those under 40.

For teenagers, the overwhelming burden of qualifying for university has become the biggest reason for committing suicide. Many teachers and parents force them to study for a long time, often saying that a poor grade on the entrance exam and failing to get a degree would make it harder for them to find a well-paid job. Teachers often post grades of all students on school billboards, humiliating those who received poor grades. Students often feel depressed by their grades, even killing themselves, particularly after failing to receive good grades on the university entrance exam.

Along with grades, teenagers contemplate suicide when they are bullied by their schoolmates. Victims are often beaten by their friends, or subjected to extortion. Teachers, who have the responsibility of dealing with the issue by punishing perpetrators, often turn a blind eye to their pupils’ ordeals, fretting that new of such cases could spread, tarnishing their school’s reputation. As young victims have no shoulder to cry on, they end up killing themselves.

For adults, poverty is largely to blame. Though South Korea has become a wealthy country after dramatic economic growth in the 1970s, income inequality has become a polarizing issue: High earners enjoy a wealthy lifestyle, while low earners, just making ends meet, are struggling financially. Exploitative employers are unwilling to recruit new staff or increase salaries for their workers. Combined with a tightened labor market, many are struggling to get by. Things are much more gloomy for those resorting to the gig economy. Korean media occasionally report about the tragic ends of some people who have killed themselves in penury.

While poverty is the biggest factor that drives Koreans to suicide, overwork is also blamed, particularly among office workers. Many workplaces in Korea force their employees into working extended hours without overtime pay. Quite a few office workers work late at night and even on weekends, adding to their stress. Last year, chronic overwork, forced by her employer, led to a web designer’s taking her own life.

A recent survey conducted by Job Korea, a job posting website in Korea, found that an astonishing 90% of respondents answered that they had suffered burnout syndrome. This suggests that many office workers are vulnerable to suicide, as extreme levels of burnout can lead people to kill themselves.

Korea is a graying country, and the suicide rate among those over 60 has also risen in recent years. Elderly people are prone to depression caused by poverty, the death of their partners and disease. A suicide of a friend or neighbor could inspire senior citizens to end their own lives. In response to an emergence of suicide among seniors, some local communities are belatedly launching counseling programs for old people to prevent them from committing suicide.

Social climates, from fierce competition for academic achievement to poverty and overwork, have pushed up the suicide rate in Korea. Government has noticed that suicide is a burning issue, but has made no progress in pushing down the suicide rate, failing to respond to the social issues that are the fundamental reasons for it. Alas, Korea will remain gloomy without the proper handling of social issues.

Join the Conversation


  1. I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this web site. I am hoping the same high-grade blog post from you in the upcoming also. In fact your creative writing skills has encouraged me to get my own website now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it.

  2. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  3. I precisely wished to thank you very much all over again. I do not know the things I could possibly have created in the absence of the creative ideas revealed by you relating to such industry. It absolutely was a real challenging condition in my opinion, but taking note of a new skilled style you treated the issue made me to jump for happiness. I am just grateful for this work and in addition trust you really know what a great job you have been carrying out instructing others thru your web page. I am certain you have never met any of us.

  4. I have not checked in here for some time as I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are great quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

  5. I discovered your blog website on google and check just a few of your early posts. Continue to maintain up the excellent operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking ahead to studying more from you later on!…

  6. Great – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs as well as related info ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, website theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Nice task..

  7. My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different website and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking over your web page for a second time.

  8. Wonderful website you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get comments from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Bless you!

  9. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Opera. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon. Cheers

  10. You are my breathing in, I have few web logs and very sporadically run out from post :). “He who controls the past commands the future. He who commands the future conquers the past.” by George Orwell.

  11. I have a go been utilizing for a long and I haven’t had any issues. This is very much more advisedly than squandering your time experimenting with strategies turn don’t work. This is the dissimulate that individuals utilize these days to get their adherents right away. I have legionnaire from peculiar merchants anyway I do just suggest this one for some reasons which clarifies why do they have a huge amount of audits talking excellent about them. I have had great outcomes by utilizing this great website over the past few years and I would recommend it to everybody. You tush purchase many services from them including: buy facebook Post sad Reactions

  12. Hi there! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Cheers!

  13. Good day I am so delighted I found your blog, I really found you by mistake, while I was searching on Bing for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say thanks a lot for a incredible post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the awesome work.

Leave a comment