Adult practitioners train at Mooto taekwondo gym in Seoul. Whereas local taekwondo gyms are mostly packed with child practitioners, more gyms now offer adult programs.
Helped by the popularity of YOLO (You Only Live Once) life trend and increasing social acceptance to "kidult" (kid+ adult) culture, more adults are learning hobbies and sports that formerly had been perceived as only for children.
Lee Ho-sun, an office worker in her 30s, goes to a nearby taekwondo gym after work. "As a little girl, I had this happy memory of having fun practicing taekwondo. But when I said to my friends that I will learn the sport again two years ago, their initial reaction was why start a children's sport now," she said. "I started it again wishing to pull out the happy memories and have the sheer joy that I had many long years ago. Since I began the sport, I feel my body and soul have been strengthened. It is just great that while I focus on practicing basic stances, I can stop thinking about what worried me at my work."
Taekwondo gyms, normally packed with little children, have been offering more evening programs for adults and adult-only taekwondo gyms are beginning to appear as well.
"Still local taekwondo gyms have mostly child practitioners. But the new trend now is that they begin to see more adult practitioners. There are many taekwondo gyms across the nation at the moment and thanks to those nostalgic adults, the number of gyms specializing in adult training is on the rise," said Lee Seung-hwan, grand master of Mooto, a taekwondo gym in Seoul. His gym offers free one day classes so that adults can experience the sport at any time.
More grown-ups are picking up color pencils and paint brushes again at neighborhood private academies, or receiving home study materials and tutoring services, initially designed as after school education programs for preschool students through 12th grade.
Kim Mi-hyun, a 32-year-old office worker, attends evening art classes near her home. "Although I liked painting when I was young, I didn't like the idea of going to an art academy or of my paintings being judged and graded," she said. "Now, with no pressure at all, I love my time drawing and painting all that I want."
According to data from the education ministry, the number of adults attending arts-related private academies, such as fine arts, music and dance classes, has soared in the past few years. It grew five times to nearly 200,000 in 2016, from only 42,000 in 2013.
Experts say those people gain psychological stability by engaging in childhood play and childhood studies. "Focusing on music and other hobbies they do at the moment, they can go back to their happy childhood memories. Unlike the past where pastimes for children and grown-ups are completely divided, we now see the line having been blurred," said Shin Kwang-young, a sociology professor at Chung-Ang University. "The kidult life trend has been spreading to various fields."
The number of grownups who receive home-study materials and tutoring services _ the same ones they used to get hesitantly by the suggestion of their academic achievement-minded parents when they were young _ is growing. Kim So-yeon, a 35-year-old mother, has been learning Japanese through Kumon home study material. "Seeing my daughter learning hangeul through the tutoring service, I thought it would be great to have one for myself.
I could learn the language by attending academies, but I like the old way of learning it. Apart from that it is cheaper, receiving the delivered study material each week and studying on my own gives me a special experience, letting me time travel back to 20 years ago," she said.
Kumon, one of the leading afterschool enrichment programs, says its adult members have increased in number 2.7 times over the past four years. It reached over 50,000 as of June this year, from less than 20,000 in 2013.
Lee Dong-gwi, a professor at Yonsei University, said "those in their 30s and 40s belong to the generation who had been forced by their parents to study hard when they were young. As they grew up, they are beginning anew, learning what they really like to study."
The growth rate of Kumon's adult members posted 50.5 percent in 2016, from 17.8 percent in 2015. In the first six months of this year, it showed growth of 23.1 percent.
"As a way of self-development, office workers, mainly in the fields of foreign languages such as Japanese or Chinese, use their lunch breaks, commuting times or after-work hours to study," said a Kumon official.
The increased number of adult members is changing Kumon's way of tutoring.
"Many adult members just want to receive study materials and skip the tutor's visits to their homes. Others meet their tutors at nearby cafes to check their studies," said the official. "For those, it is not just a method to receive high scores and gain certificates. It is rather a self-enrichment program, closer to hobbies. And it is highly likely that adult members will continue to increase in the years to come."
Honestly, none of these hobbies seem very "kid" to me. But maybe in Korea it's different. And Kumon for adults say whattt???? What's your hobby, Omona? I love me a scavenger hunt, and I just signed up for geocaching but haven't started yet.
source: The Korea Times