“Beggars’ Chat Rooms”, a new phenomena among youths in South Korea struggling in the national recession
[Photo of Black Steel Pet Cage With One Dollar, photo credit to Pexel]
Among the younger generation in South Korea, “Beggars’ Chat Rooms” in open chat rooms of KakaoTalk (one of the most extensively used social media apps in South Korea) have become widely-popular in their struggles against national economic downturn.
In the Beggars’ Chat Rooms, users introduce themselves as beggars and self-report or request permissions for the ability to spend money for their expenses.
Then, other users comment on their reports to encourage extreme curtailment.
Next to their nicknames in the group chat, users also note the accumulation of their monthly expenditures.
The user with the greatest monthly spending has to write up a 500-word letter of apology.
One principal rule among all Beggars’ Chat Rooms is that users do not spend their money for anything but the basic necessities.
Those who break the rule are immediately kicked out from the group chat.
Currently, there are hundreds of active Beggars’ Chat Rooms with a maximum of 500 users and even waitlists for those waiting for a free spot in these chat rooms.
Many analysts note that the creation of Beggars’ Chat Rooms may be a simple reflection of South Korea’s current economic state.
By April 2023, the Consumer Price Index in South Korea rose by 0.2% from March and 3.7% since April 2022.
Furthermore, the online shopping transaction value reached 18.8379 trillion Korean Won in March 2023, which is a 7.0% increase from March 2022.
Hence, Beggars’ Chat Rooms are a disturbing phenomena for the current South Korean youths struggling through the recession.
The Beggars’ Chat Rooms also led to numerous comical, yet unsettling conversations by those strictly consulting one another.
For instance, as one of the users remarked that “[he] gave 3,800 won to an elderly man who transported [him] to show [his appreciation]”, other users deciphered and commented on how he had simply rode a cab.
In another case, a user was kicked out from the group chat for sending an emoticon since “he has encouraged others to spend money on the emoticon”.
As screenshots of these ludicrous conversations went viral on social media, some noted that the Beggars’ Chat Rooms were quite ironic in a way.
Specifically, after ten days of observing five different Beggars’ Chat Room, reporter Hye-kyung Jeong of SBS remarked that while the users collectively answer with ‘don’t spend’ for those who debate whether to spend or not, most users use the chat room as a way to inform of their expenses after they have already spent their money.
Moreover, some users join the chat room to save up their money for an upcoming luxurious trip or to forgive others’ payments on gifts for their parents.
Some noted that Beggars’ Chat Room reflects the self-deprecating position of the younger generation amid the national economic downturn.
The trend is a contrasting phenomenon to several years ago, in which the younger generations pursued a ‘You Only Live Once (YOLO)’ life.
In fact, others criticise the users for mocking those in true poverty as they mischievously scorn each other by labelling themselves as ‘beggars’.
While many citizens suggest that the Beggars’ Chat Room stemmed from “zero-spending challenge” (in which the users try to live without spending any money), some also raised the question of whether they are truly successful if they are using their parents’ cards.
- USung Hwang / Grade 11
- Seoul Foreign School