35% of office workrs prefer to spend free time by themselves: poll
By Baek Byung-yeul, Nam Hyun-woo, and Park Ji-won
Some are thinking of going abroad or heading to a resort to spend their summer vacation.
The word "vacation" comes from the Latin word "vacationem," which means "to be free, empty." Thus, as we spend our vacation, we should give ourselves some free time.
Not everyone decides to travel for vacation, and as a result, can remain stuck in boring or stressful routines. However, this does not necessarily have to be the case. We can stay at home and still enjoy the summer.
Reasons for not traveling
While traveling for summer vacation can help people recover from the fatigue brought about by their daily routines, such travel can be more stressful than rejuvenating because of the expense required and the crowdedness of tourist destinations. Thus, some opt to relax from home.
Song, 30, an office worker, has forgone a summer vacation trip and decided to stay at home. Many of his colleagues at the steelmaking company are going to exotic countries to recharge their batteries. They think not traveling for the summer is unusual. However, Song says "you will only face problems when you don't spend your summer at home."
He recalled his unpleasant experience during his last summer trip. In 2010, he went with his friend, surnamed Kim, on a seven-day tour to six European countries. The two were already fighting on the first day of the trip.
"Before that trip three years ago, we were very close friends. But we disagreed on our itinerary. He wanted to visit all of the tourist sites, while I preferred to stay in one place and just relax and enjoy the exotic atmosphere," Song said.
When they arrived in London, they disagreed over how long they should stay in each city or each country. Their feud exploded in Prague, and Kim ended up promptly returning to Korea without Song.
"That was just the beginning of the nightmare. I put my credit cards and return airline ticket inside of a bag that we used together, and Kim brought it home without knowing those items were in there," Song said.
With only a small amount of cash left, Song had to cut his vacation short, and for the remaining days before he flew back to Seoul, ate only instant noodles that the landlady of the B&B he was staying at provided out of pity.
"That vacation was the worst ever. I had been looking forward to that single event but ended up in an awkward situation, left alone in a foreign country without money. Since then, I have decided not to go on holiday trips but instead stay at home to enjoy the unusually quiet city while masses of other people leave for their vacation," Song said.
Song's experience may be an extraordinary case, but a number of so-called holiday hermits agree that going on a special summer trip might not be as exciting as one would expect.
While some are giving up their summer vacation abroad due to the difficulty of planning trips with others, some choose to stay at home to be able to enjoy the familiar Korean food.
Oh is a middle-aged housewife in Seoul who has become reluctant to go on vacation trips after learning that she did not like non-Korean foods so much.
"My family and I went on a guided tour to Germany with a pack of other Korean tourists in 2011. Because we were traveling with other people, I couldn't choose what I wanted to eat and ended up eating whatever local food the group wanted. I found that I did not like German food," she said.
The fact that she and her family do not speak either German or English forced them to choose a guided tour, but that turned out to be a terrible idea.
"Because Korea is a relatively small country, you can travel domestically on the weekends. So I decided to go to Germany to enjoy my summer vacation with my family, but since then, I've realized that enjoying the summer is about escaping the scorching heat in your home."
Activities of at-home vacationers
Hyun Seung-kim, a 30-year-old Seoulite, plans to assemble plastic action figures during his summer vacation.
"I love Gundam. I often assemble plastic action figures to use up my extra time," said Hyun.
Hyun loves to watch and talk about Gundam, a popular Japanese robot animation series. He had always enjoyed assembling Gundam action figures but had to stop after getting a job.
"It is a high-maintenance hobby. From assembling hundreds of pieces to coloring them, it usually takes almost 10 hours to build one plastic action figure," Hyun said.
Some of his colleagues think he's a nerd, but he said he doesn't mind being a nerd at all.
"It is a very sound hobby in my opinion. Building Gundam action figures requires attention lot of concentration, and I love every minute of it," Hyun added.
Hyun said he has "already bought newly released plastic action figures for this summer vacation."
The number of people like Hyun who spend their vacation at home is increasing.
According to a recent survey of 383 office workers conducted by online travel website Expedia (www.expedia.co.kr), about 35 percent responded that they prefer to spend their free time by themselves. And about a half said it's because they are eager to avoid the crowds at popular vacation spots.
Jeong, 24, a businesswoman, said she will spend her week-long vacation studying English.
She said she used to mumble when she had to communicate with overseas customers. "As a marketer, I always had a hard time speaking English," she said.
"I will start by studying grammar because I think that is my worst point."
Park, 31, an office worker, also chose to stay at home during a week-long summer vacation.
"I recently broke up with my girlfriend. I need some time alone," Park said. In doing so, he can "have time to recharge himself by staying at home for a week."
"Like everybody else who doesn't go on vacation trips, I will spend my vacation reading some bestselling books, watching movies that I have missed and going out for a drive in my car."
Events for at-home vacationers
Samsung Electronics has launched an event that's perfect for at-home vacationers. From July 2 to Oct. 2, Samsung's Smart TV will provide free movies for 90 days.
The event, called Samsung Electronics S-Day: Smart TV Film Festival for 90 Days, will provide six free recently released movies every week and other movies for various genres and decades.
Similarly, Auction, a leading online shopping mall in the country, will hold an event for singles who can't afford to travel for the summer holidays.
From Aug. 17 to 18, the shopping mall will send Auction lottery winners to various events such as camping and concerts.
"Usually, camping costs each person more than 50,000 won in the peak holiday season, but we will hold free camping events for young customers who want to enjoy their holiday but can't afford to," said an Auction manager who declined to be named.