Koreans compete for who’s best at doing nothing

  • Spacing out is a sports event in South Korea
  • This was created by artist WoopsYang who experienced burnout herself
  • The event aims to show how important and beneficial taking a break is

In South Korea, there is actually a competition where participants can win by spacing out or doing nothing.

The “Space Out Competition” aimed to show the people the importance of rest and taking a break from the daily rush.

The mechanics? No smartphones, no books, no activity, no sleeping, nothing. Contestants should simply stare blank into space. Their heart rates are monitored every 15 minutes. The participant with the most rested heart rate wins.

It was created by visual artist WoopsYang who herself “suffered from burnout syndrome.”

“[I] would feel extremely anxious if I was sitting around doing nothing, not being productive in one way or another,”she was quoted in a Vice story.

“I thought to myself: ‘We would all feel better about doing nothing if we did nothing together as a group.’”

A lot of Koreans have been interested in joining the event since it started in 2014. This year 2,000 people wished to enter the competition but WoopsYang had to qualify only 70 of them.

Another interesting fact about this annual event is that people are told to wear clothes that identify their jobs to portray a “miniature version of the city,” WoopsYang said as she stressed that the main point is that stress and burn out can affect all people in all professions.

The venue chosen for the contest are also the busiest parts of Seoul that provides a contrasting backdrop for the spacing out participants. This year it was held on a Monday morning at a public park.

“You’ll be able to see a small patch of stillness amidst all the hectic movement,” WoopsYang said.

South Koreans are among the busiest and most overworked people in the world. Last July, 2011, the New York Times said in a story that Korea is on the “verge of national nervous breakdown” because of the societal pressures: school, career and family.