“Living your best life” — known as “god-saeng” in Korean — is a growing trend among members of South Korea’s Generation Z.
A 26-year-old graduate student, posted a blog message early this month that began, “Today, I start living my best life!”
The 26-year-old also posted a daily schedule packed with events in 30-minute increments. It started at 8 am, when they would wake up, work out at home, shower, study Excel, and eat lunch.
In the afternoon, they were scheduled to watch YouTube videos on design programming and address “character and aptitude issues.” The graduate student’s day ended at 11 pm with 15 minutes spent copying from the Bible by hand.
For each of the items completed on the schedule, they took a “confirmation” photograph of a timepiece showing the time. At times, they were unable to do all the things planned. In those cases, they went to bed with a vow to “continue living my best life tomorrow.”
“Living your best life” — known as “god-saeng” in Korean — is a growing trend among members of South Korea’s Generation Z born in the mid-1990s or later. The Korean term is coinage that combines “saeng,” meaning “life,” with the word “god,” which is often attached in English form to refer colloquially to something superior.
The term is often used to refer to an “outstanding life that is a model to others.” At its core, it is about regularly doing things that offer a small sense of achievement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in people spending more time at home, without opportunities to experience a sense of accomplishment through outside activities or interpersonal relationships. As a result, the “best life” approach has been gaining ground among South Koreans in their teens and twenties.
An examination of monthly search numbers for the term “god-saeng” over the past three years using Naver’s search volume analysis system Data Lab showed a roughly hundredfold increase in searches over the 18 months since February 2020.