Korea Returns to Daily Life

Korea’s total credit card approval amount in the first quarter of 2022 increased by 11.2% from the same period last year, the report showed. This is due to the recovery of overall consumer sentiment due to expectations for a daily recovery, such as measures to ease social distancing.  According to the “Analyzing Card Approval Performance in the 1st Quarter of 2022″ released by the Credit Finance Association on April 28, the total amount of card approvals and the number of approvals in the 1st quarter of this year were 249 trillion won and 5.7 billion, respectively. This is an increase of 11.2% and 9.5%, respectively, compared to the same period last year.  The Credit Finance Association explains that consumption recovery has increased significantly following the implementation of measures to ease social distancing, such as the phased lifting of quarantine passes. According to the Bank of Korea, the consumer sentiment index stood at 103.2 last month, up 2.9 points from 100.3 a year earlier.The amount of credit card approvals and the number of approvals were 196.2 trillion won and 35.4 trillion won, respectively, up 12.0% and 10.2% year-on-year. The amount of check card approval was 51.6 trillion won and the number of approval was 21.1 trillion won, up 7.4% and 7.1%, respectively, from the same period last year.  The amount of approval for personal cards in the first quarter totaled 204.9 trillion won, up 10.8% from the same period last year. The number of approvals totaled 53.6 trillion, up 9.6 percent. Corporate credit card approvals totaled 44.2 trillion won, up 13.4% year-on-year and the number of approvals increased 6.6% to 330 million. By industry, eight industries, which are highly related to consumer consumption, saw an increase year-on-year in all industries, including 15.0% in wholesale and retail, 12.1% in business facility management and business support services, and 12.5%.  However, the lodging and restaurant industries increased 5.3% year-on-year due to easing distance, but decreased 13.8% compared to the first quarter of 2019, before the outbreak of COVID-19.Companies’ business sentiment rebounded in four months as expectations for a recovery in domestic demand grew due to a decrease in the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases and the lifting of social distancing. The manufacturing industry has improved due to increased orders for semiconductors, while the non-manufacturing industry has improved as sales of department stores and overseas travel have increased.

According to the April 2022 Business Survey Index (BSI) and Economic Sentiment Index (ESI) released by the Bank of Korea on the 28th, the BSI of the entire industry rose 3 points from the previous month to 86, turning upward for the first time in four months.  BSI is an index of an entrepreneur’s judgment on the current corporate management situation and future prospects, indicating the business sentiment of a company. If the index exceeds 100, it means that more companies have responded that the business situation is good, and if it is less than 100, it means that the business situation is bad, but the BSI for all industries has never exceeded 100 since the statistics were compiled in 2003.Both non-manufacturing and manufacturing industries saw their business conditions improve. The manufacturing industry BSI rose 3 points from the previous month to 87, turning upward for the first time in a month. Non-manufacturing BSI rose 4 points from the previous month to 85. April 2011 (85)Kim Dae-jin, head of the corporate statistics team of the Bank of Korea’s Economic Statistics Bureau, said, “BSI in all industries rose 3 points from the previous month thanks to a decrease in the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases, the lifting of most social distancing measures, recovery in domestic demand and strong exports.” The manufacturing industry rose due to increased sales of automobile-related electrical equipment and semiconductors. Electrical equipment increased by 10 points due to increased demand for industrial cables and automobile-related electrical equipment, while other machinery and equipment rose by 7 points due to increased orders for semiconductors and construction-related mechanical equipment. Electronic, video, and telecommunication equipment are semiconductors and related components

In the non-manufacturing industry, the information and communication industry rose 8 points due to increased software orders, while wholesale and retail businesses such as liquor and food materials and retail sales such as department stores, duty-free shops and convenience stores rose 3 points. Professional, scientific, and technology also increased by 5 points due to increased orders for civil engineering design and supervision and increased demand for tax services.

By company size, large companies rose 2 points from the previous month to 93, and small and medium-sized companies rose 5 points to 81. By type, export companies fell below 100 at 93, up 1 point from the previous month. Domestic companies stood at 84, up 5 points from the previous month.The economic sentiment index (ESI), which reflects the consumer trend index (CSI) in the business sentiment of companies, rose 2.3 points from the previous month to 105.7. ESI is an index that shows the economic sentiment of all private economic players, and if the figure exceeds 100, it is interpreted that the economy has improved from the past average. The circular fluctuation value was 103.1, down 0.9 points from the previous month.BSI for next month’s business outlook also recorded 86, up 3 points from the previous month (83). Both manufacturing and non-manufacturing rose 3 points from the previous month to 88 and 85, respectively.Students from Korean schools have started going to school all the way since May. The self-investigation of COVID-19 in elementary, middle, and high schools has also disappeared. The playground where physical education classes for students without masks were held was lively. Spring picnics and after-school classes, which began in time, were full of heat. College students are giving off their shining youth by participating in department and club activities without hesitation. Youth symbolic terms such as festivals and MT have reappeared. It’s May, everyone’s excited.

Social distancing was lifted except for the mandatory provisions for wearing masks, and even the “liberation of outdoor masks” was declared. Schools are in the normalization stage, and daily recovery is progressing rapidly throughout society. There are voices of concern about the current situation in which quarantine tensions have been resolved, such as the Korean Medical Association issuing a public recommendation that “COVID-19 has not ended.” But I’m having a busy daily life without you. After the pandemic, the landscape of the world will not be the same.

It is new to remember that the entire society has suddenly changed since January 2020, when the COVID-19 infection was first confirmed in Korea. From school, the ‘world of disconnection’ signal was raised. The scene of the front-line school graduation ceremony in February of that year was unique. The graduation ceremony was held in a broadcasting room where only a small part of the student representative, principal, and alumni president participated. Graduates watched it on a monitor screen in the classroom. Parents visited the school with a bouquet of flowers, but they had to wait outside the main gate. The entrance ceremony in March disappeared. College freshmen were entitled “COVID-19″ and could not even face their seniors and colleagues. For them, ‘campus romance’ was a stuffed word.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic in March 2020 as the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, worsened in December 2019. It is the third pandemic in history following the Hong Kong flu and swine flu crisis.

The Hong Kong flu, which was first reported in July 1968, landed in northern Australia, Europe, and California in the United States via Vietnam and Singapore, bothering people around the world. The Hong Kong flu, which spread to Japan, Africa, and South America, was rampant until the end of 1968. It is said that more than 1 million deaths occurred in the mid-20th century Pandemic, where there was no tally of infected people as it is now. In March 2009, the swine flu from the U.S. swept Mexico and spread to the world. At the time, media reports said that as of May 3, 2009, Mexico had more than 150 deaths, and the country was in a state of panic. In April 2010, the WHO announced that the minimum death toll from swine flu was 17,583. The number of confirmed patients is estimated to exceed 251 million.

COVID-19, which has brought about a pandemic 10 years after the swine flu crisis, deserves to be recorded as a powerful virus. Compared to the previous pandemic, the contagiousness and fatality rate are higher, and the duration is already nearly twice as long. Until recently, the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases around the world reached nearly 500 million and the number of deaths exceeded 6 million. As of 0 o’clock on May 2, the cumulative number of confirmed patients in Korea was 17,295,733 (22,958 deaths). As of March this year, Korea’s resident registration population was 51.61 million. There is an “official calculation” that one in three Koreans suffered from COVID-19.

Above all, the daily life of human society has been destroyed in an instant. During the previous pandemic, there were no extreme drugs such as prohibition of movement between countries. Sports events were not suspended. Although there was a temporary restriction on the use of the airport, I was able to travel abroad as usual. On the other hand, in the third pandemic, borders and airports were closed for a long time. Even during the war, the school, which was not official but kept only student classes, was virtually closed. People have experienced a completely different world.

The “post-corona era” is being talked about. This means that the aspects of the world in which people live are clearly distinguished by cutting off before and after the COVID-19 incident. Despite the swine flu crisis, people wore masks, but they were not compulsory and most of them did not wear them. This time, people are making masks that they are forced to wear unconditionally for more than two years. It seems to accept the prospect that telecommuting, online video and performance culture will become daily life without resistance.

Now, it is a path to the daily recovery of self-quarantine. Beyond this, many of the “familiar things” before the COVID-19 incident will be put behind the times. Human society has undergone daily changes after experiencing war, technological development, natural disasters, and revolutionary political situations. However, it is hard to see a sudden change in the world while people cover their noses and mouths around the world. In particular, the world that future generations will set up in the future, when they escape from the painful world of disconnection and travel through the open school site, may be a different look than imagined. It’s a natural phenomenon. It feels like the evolution of daily life that will one day come sooner than expected. It’s a job to adapt actively.