[Hallyupedia] Kangaroo jok (캥거루족)

나확진 / 인턴 이효윤 / 2021-10-02 07:00:52
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by Ra Hwakjin / Lee Hyo-yoon

[ENG] A Korean term that refers to youngsters who finished school and are old enough to live on their own but are still financially relying on their parents


▲ This image, an illustration by Cho Hye-in, shows kangaroo jok. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 


Kangaroo jok refers to those who finished school and are old enough to live on their own but are still financially relying on their parents.

The word is a conjunction of ‘kangaroo’ whose cubs stay in in their mothers’ pouch and ‘jok’ (means tribe) which is frequently used for new words for a particular group. The term compares those who are still financially dependent on their parents even when they are old enough to be to the kangaroo cubs who stay in their mothers’ pouch.

This term was popularized as the Korean press frequently used it around the 2000s. As Korea suffered IMF crisis in 1997, job crunch became a social problem and there became more and more youngsters who had to financially rely on their parents for not having a decent job even after graduating university.

But the term was not used as the same meaning as nowadays when it was first introduced to the press.

In 1998, a Yonhap News article used ‘kangaroo jok’ to refer to those who stayed around college after suspending graduation or even after graduation to work part-time as a living. In this case the mother kangaroo was college.

Also, in another article that year, government officials who moved their workplaces to Daejeon as Government Complex Daejeon started its operation that year but returned to Seoul from work not only on weekdays but also on weekends was called 'kangaroo jok'. In this case the mother kangaroo was Seoul.

However, ‘kangaroo jok’s these days are hardly used those ways. They are usually used to refer to adults who are still stuck to their parents financially.




▲ This image, provided by Yonhap TV, shows kangaroo jok. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

◇ Different word but same meaning around the world

‘Kangaroo jok’ originated from ‘L’express, a French weekly news magazine’s ‘Kangaroo Generation’ which was used to refer to youngsters who have to lean on their parents due to high jobless rate, according to a Dong-A Ilbo article in the 2000s. But ‘kangaroo generation’ does not seem to be used in general in France these days.

As high percentage of jobless youngsters and their increased financial dependence have become a common problem around the world, there are similar words to ‘kangaroo jok’ in many other countries as well.

“Twixster,” which means “sandwiched generation,” is used in America to refer to jobless youngsters who stick to their parents even to their late 20s. The term comes from a Latin “betwixt.”

“Kippers,” short for “Kids in Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings,” is used in U.K. In Canada, there is a word for youngster who return to their parents due to unemployment crisis ㅡ “Boomerang Kids.”

Germans use “Nesthocker,” an animal curled up in its nest and “Tanguy Syndrome” originated from a 2001 film in which the parents kick off their adult son is used in France.

Italian “Mammone” which means “Mama’s boy” is similar to “kangaroo jok.” In 2007, former Minister of Economy and Finance of Italy, Tommaso Padoa-Schipoppa stirred up a controversy within the local media for having called those in their 20s and are still living with their families “bamboccioni,” which means big, dummy boys.


▲ This image, an illustration by Chang Hyun-kyung, shows NEET jok, similar to kangaroo jok. 

◇ Korean kangaroo joks in their 30s~40s are 650,000

The population of Koreans over their 20s who are living with the aid of their parents was identified to 3,139,000 until Nov. 1 of 2020 according to the “2020 Population Housing Census” (translated) announced by Statistics Korea on Sep. 27, 2021.

Even if the 20s who had no choice to depend on their parents due to university attendance and military duty are counted out, those in their 30s~40s who had to live under their parents reach to 650,000.

Like this, kangaroo joks frequently appear in dramas or movies as well. A recent global mega hit, Netflix original series “Squid Game” also portrayed Gi-hoon, played by Lee Jung-jae, as a man living off in his old mother’s house and financially supported by her.  

▲ This pohoto, provided by Netflix, shows Lee Jung-jae in the 'Squid Game.' (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The larger proportion of kangaroo joks over their 30s seems to be interconnected with the increasing rate of singles.

The percentage of singles over their 30s has been measured to have increased by 1.5%p, from 13.2% in 2015 to 14.7% in 2020.

Especially, the percentage singles of solely 30s has steadily been rising from 6.8% in 1990 to 13.4% in 2000, 29.2% in 2010, 42.5% in 2020 and so on. The percentage of single men of their 30s has passed half marking 50.8%.
Out of singles aged 20~44, those who live with their parents were 62.3% and 42.1% of them were identified to be unemployed, according to another announcement from Statistics Korea in March 2021.

“While the job depression of the youngsters is continuing and house expenses are increasing, the number of ‘kangaroo jok’s, adults dependent on their parents’ generation both financially and emotionally, is showing a sharp rise,” said Park Si-nae secretary of Statistics Research Institute.




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