On/Off: South Korea BBC experiement
5 FEBRUARY 2010 – EXPERIMENT ENDS
After a week of web-less living, our two volunteer families are back online.
Another visit from Korea Telecom’s Mr Song is all it took, and with the return of the internet modems to their rightful places, the homes were rewired to the digital super-highway.
Sighs of relief all round.
Both families spoke of a major sense of inconvenience trying to navigate the complexity of modern-day Korea without it.
After just seven days, no surprise, of course, that their world didn’t grind to a halt.
But our little experiment has shown how the internet has become an integral part of so many aspects of daily life here; leisure, education, transport, banking, shopping and socialising.
The Yang family have rediscovered reading from books – but still want their computers back
For the Kims and the Yangs, like many other South Korean families, it takes up a large proportion of their waking hours.
Mr Kim hopes that the experience will help his children to “become more wise” in the amount of time they spend at the computer keyboard.
Mr Yang says that being cut off has allowed him to “rediscover lost time.”
Would any of them recommend the experience to their friends?
“Definitely,” Kim Sung-jun, Mr Kim’s eldest son, replies.
“They need to know how suffocating it can feel living without it.”
Mr Yang’s wife, Youm Jung-a, believes that although now happily reconnected she will change the way she uses the internet in the future.
“After finishing my morning chores I spend between two and three hours online,” she tells me.
“That’s time spent alone. But during this past week I’ve even had the time to drink tea with neighbours, so I’m going to regulate time spent online from now on.”
So both families are in agreement.
For them, the experiment has highlighted how vital a tool the internet is, but also how it has come to replace other aspects of family life.
Would they give it up again?
“It would be the same as asking if you could cut off my electricity for a week,” Cho Hye-sook laughs.
“Lose the internet for another seven days? It’s a real no-thank-you I’m afraid. I don’t want to go through this again.”