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4 out of 10 adults did not read any paper book last year

4 out of 10 adults did not read any paper book last year

Posted February. 06, 2018 08:11,   

Updated February. 06, 2018 08:11


A survey found that four out of 10 South Korean adults did not read a single paper book last year. The reading rate of paper books fell to a record low since the survey was first conducted in 1994, and the reading rate for e-books has increased from two years ago.

The annual reading rates for adults and students in South Korea stood at 59.9 percent and 91.7 percent, respectively, last year, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced on Monday based on the National Reading Survey for 2017. The figures for adult and student readers in South Korea have fallen by 5.4 percentage points and 3.2 percentage points, respectively, from 2015.

The National Reading Surveys are conducted every two years. The reading rate refers to a ratio of people who read one or more paper books over the year, with the exceptions of text books, reference books, exam books, magazines and cartoons, and the rates for adult and student readers in South Korea stood at 86.8 percent and 97.6 percent each, when the survey was first conducted in 1994.

According to the culture ministry, the average reading amount for South Korean adults also fell in 2017 by 0.8 to 8.3 books per person. Adult readers’ attendance of public libraries has also dropped 6 percentage points to 22.2 percent.

By contrast, the e-books reading rates for adults and students have risen to 14.1 percent and 29.8 percent, up 3.9 percentage points and 1.7 percent points, respectively, on the back of a spread of web novels.

The most popular excuse was that they “could not find the time because of work (school and private academic institutes), with 32.2 percent of adults and 29.1 percent of students providing such a response. “Preoccupied with cell phones or Internet games” (19.6 percent) or “Other types of spending free time” (15.7 percent) were included in the answers from the adult respondents. “Just hate reading and am not used to it” (21.1 percent) and “Preoccupied with smartphone, Internet and games” (18.5 percent) were some of the other reasons for student readers.

While the reading rates and average reading amount have fallen, the survey found that those who read paper books are reading for a much longer time. Compared to 2015, the average amount of time that adult readers spent on reading paper books in 2017 jumped from 32.9 minutes to 38.5 minutes over weekdays and went up from 34.4 minutes to 42.7 minutes over the weekends. The National Reading Survey for 2017 interviewed 6,000 adults and 3,329 elementary, middle and high school students from 17 cities and provinces across South Korea.

Jong-Yeob JO jjj@donga.com