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A Study on Changes in Leisure Behavior of Seoul Citizens in the New Normal Era and Policy Direction Thereto

Seonhae BaikㆍJeonghwa PanㆍJunghyun Lee

Since the 2000s, Korea has steadily implemented policies to reduce the amount of working hours to ensure people's happiness while increasing the level of life satisfaction by striking a balance between work and life. Accordingly, the 40-hour work week and a 5-day school week have been established, and the amount of people's leisure time and consumption to leisure are relatively increasing. However, participation in leisure activities is one of the major areas where inequality is likely to occur since it can be greatly affected by one’s social and structural conditions such as his/her economic conditions, rather than individual desires or tastes. In particular, since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the leisure activities of Seoul citizens, and some of the changes are expected to be maintained in the society of the New Normal Era. Since it is expected that the impact of the pandemic will act unequally depending on social class, it is necessary to identify the reality and respond to this matter through appropriate policies. The purpose of this study is to suggest implications for the direction of leisure policies in the New Normal Era by examining the perception on leisure and the behavior change of Seoul citizens before and after the pandemic triggered by COVID-19. For this, an online survey of 2,500 citizens of Seoul was conducted, comprised of questions such as awareness and attitude toward leisure activities, leisure activities before and after the pandemic, the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on their leisure activities, and the changes in leisure behavior and challenges in the future (in the “With-COVID Era”).

It was found from the survey that after the pandemic caused by COVID-19 virus, individual and passive leisure activities of Seoul citizens have increased, while the amount of social leisure activities and the level of leisure satisfaction have decreased. Additionally, online-based leisure activities have been greatly expanded. Although online-based leisure activities are positive in the sense that they do not have spatial and temporal restrictions, they also contain negative factors, such as reducing the amount of social leisure activities people usually engage in for the purpose of interacting with others. In particular, the elderly and low-income households showed a deepened gap in leisure activities since they failed to switch to online or active leisure activities. In conclusion, as tasks on leisure policies for Seoul in the New Normal Era, I suggest: (i) encourage the elderly and low-income households to enjoy leisure activities; (ii) develop ideas to link online and off-line leisure programs; (iii) ensure safety management of leisure facilities in the local community; and (iv) lay the foundation for leisure revitalization.