The rate of adults who read at least one book last year was the lowest since the government started keeping records, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Friday.
The findings are from the ministry's survey of 5,000 adults and 3,000 elementary, middle and high school students from October 2014 to September 2015. According to the survey, the average yearly reading rate among adults was 65.3 percent, a 6.1 percent drop from 2013.
The figure indicates that out of 10 adults, only 6.5 read at least one book last year. This is the lowest figure since the ministry started the biannual survey in 1994.
Reading material was confined to paperbacks, excluding magazines, comic books, textbooks, reference books for students and test prep books.
The rate was 86.8 percent in 1994, fell to 79 percent in 1995 and remained in the 70s percentage in the 2000s, until it fell to 65.4 percent in 2010. Although the figure rose in 2013, after the government promoted a reading campaign in 2012, the figure fell again to the 60s percentage.
Korean adults, on average, read 9.1 books and spent 22.8 minutes during the week and 25.3 minutes on weekends reading last year. Each of these figures decreased from 2013.
However, the number of books read among the reading population was 14, up from 12.9 in 2013. This indicates the gap between people who read and those who do not is growing.
Students were also found to read less - the rate was 94.9 percent and the number of books 29.8, both figures falling from 2013.
Most adults (64.9 percent) and students (51.9 percent) felt they were not reading enough.
They attributed this to "not having enough time due to work or studies," followed by "because they do not want to read nor are they in the habit."
However, according to the ministry, Koreans' reading rate is on par with the average of OECD members.