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Bitter Neologisms Arise During Employment Crisis

Posted January. 11, 2005 21:50,   


“Nakbasaeng, Toepyein, Jeomobaejok, Marriage Employment…”

These are the neologisms that were created in 2004, when the unemployment crisis was at its worst.

A job-recruiting portal web site, Scout, announced on January 11 examples of the newly created, employment-related vernacular that was popular last year.

According to this website, among university hangouts where employment-preparation is at its hottest, Nakbasaeng (students who scraped through the employment crisis as excruciatingly as a camel passes through a needle hole), Lecture Nomads (students who search for TOEIC and employment lectures besides their major lectures), Campus Double-lifers (students who lead double lives juggling their studies and business ventures), and various other neologisms have emerged.

Toepyein (TOEIC addicts) arose from the deliriously popular TOEIC-turned-game “Nationwide University English Game Contest,” and the term “Chibbo” came into existence from a club holding over 300,000 members called “Employment Breakthrough.”

Other words such as Club Exams (Meaning that registering for some clubs that are advantageous when applying for jobs is almost as hard as the bar exam), U-turns (students who return to school after enjoying a wild social life), Escalators (transferring schools and raising your value), Point-five-times (those who decide to work instead of heading home for the holidays for 0.5-times-higher wages), amongst others, were coined.

Neologisms such as “Etaebaek, Thirty-eight Line, Saohjung, and Ohruekdoe” settled into the vocabulary of employees as everyday nouns.

A new word, “meinchangs,” denotes employees who stare dumbly out the window because work has dwindled and layoffs are near. “Body Temperature Retirement,” comparing the body temperature of 36.5 degrees to the actual retirement age of 36.5 years, has emerged, and “Nestings,” those who get off work on the dot to avoid high-speed promotions, have emerged.

A studying employee is called a “salardent” (salary man and student), and reflects a situation in which employees are floundering to keep their jobs. “Moengs” are very similar, and refer to those who use their spare time to study English on their mobile phones.

Words like “Marriage Employment,” meaning those who handle employment as a sort of marriage, and “Marriage Business,” meaning spending the minimum on weddings and leaving the rest for a venture business, shows how difficult it is to get and keep jobs.

Jung-Eun Lee lightee@donga.com