< Go to Homepage

Doing Nothing is a Sport in South Korea

Travel By
Dozens of citizens take part in Seoul's "space-out" competition in which participants are required to sit idly without talking, sleeping, eating, or using any electronic devices, at a riverside park in Seoul on May 22, 2016. The competition has gained popularity in South Korea since local artists organised the first edition in Seoul in 2014 as a satire of modern life dominated by social media and smartphones. / AFP / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Dozens of citizens take part in Seoul’s ‘space-out’ competition in which participants are required to sit idly without talking, sleeping, eating, or using any electronic devices, at a riverside park in Seoul on May 22, 2016. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Baseball, America’s past time, has found an international following in South Korea. But we’re going to guess that Seoul’s latest sport won’t catch on anytime soon Stateside. Each year, competitors engage in a “space out” contest, spending 90 minutes sitting in public without talking, sleeping, eating, or using any electronics. (To that latter point, South Korea is one of the most stressed-out populations in the world, with 80 percent of South Koreans owning a smartphone.)

Launched by artists in 2014—originally as an installation—this year’s “space out” had a respectable 1,500 applicants. Out of the 70 participants that end up competing, the person with the most stable heart rate is deemed the winner. The contest has even spread to other countries like China. At the bottom of this piece, take some time and “space out” by watching the travelogue on South Korea.

Dozens of citizens take part in Seoul's "space-out" competition in which participants are required to sit idly without talking, sleeping, eating, or using any electronic devices, at a riverside park in Seoul on May 22, 2016. The competition has gained popularity in South Korea since local artists organised the first edition in Seoul in 2014 as a satire of modern life dominated by social media and smartphones. / AFP / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Dozens of citizens take part in Seoul’s “space-out” competition in which participants are required to sit idly without talking, sleeping, eating, or using any electronic devices, at a riverside park in Seoul on May 22, 2016. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)
Dozens of citizens take part in Seoul's "space-out" competition in which participants are required to sit idly without talking, sleeping, eating, or using any electronic devices, at a riverside park in Seoul on May 22, 2016. The competition has gained popularity in South Korea since local artists organised the first edition in Seoul in 2014 as a satire of modern life dominated by social media and smartphones. / AFP / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Dozens of citizens take part in Seoul’s “space-out” competition in which participants are required to sit idly without talking, sleeping, eating, or using any electronic devices, at a riverside park in Seoul on May 22, 2016. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)