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22 May 2016

South Koreans Shun Smartphones in 'Space-Out' Competition

South Korean taking part in Seoul's "space-out"
competition at a riverside park in Seoul on
May 22, 2016.  Photo:  AP
South Koreans shun smartphones in 'space-out' competition
straitstimes.com, 22 May 2016

SEOUL (AFP) - Dozens of people in one of the world's most wired nations on Sunday (May 22) took part in South Korea's "space-out" competition aimed at promoting a life free from stress and information overload.

About 60 contestants spent 90 minutes sitting in a public park in Seoul without talking, sleeping, eating, or using any electronic devices during the event - under the slogan of "Relax Your Brain".

The "space-out" competition was launched by local activists in 2014.

Sunday's event - organised by the Seoul city council - drew more than 1,500 online applicants who vied for the available places in the competition.

"Let our brain - never free from information overload from a smartphone, TV or computer - relax! Let's enjoy just thinking nothing!" the council said in a statement.

Blank-faced contestants - including a mother and a young child and middle-aged men in suits - sat or lay still in temperatures of over 30 deg C. Many held parasols against the sun.

Participants are also not allowed to look at their watches or move around too much. The person measured as having the most stable heart rate is judged the winner.

On Sunday, the honours went to a famous local rapper.

"I was so exhausted physically and mentally while preparing an album, so I just wanted to relax for a while," said Shin Hyo Seob, a.k.a. Crush.

"This event is highly recommended for those who have migraines or complicated thoughts," the 28-year-old said, holding his glass trophy.

More than 80 per cent of South Korea's 50 million people have smartphones, with a growing fixation on everything digital seen as a serious problem.

The country's smartphone users spend an average of four hours a day tweeting, chatting or playing games, with about 15 per cent showing symptoms of addiction, according to state data.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/south-koreans-shun-smartphones-in-space-out-competition

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