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In 2020, get ready to juggle multiple personas

Oct 30,2019
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Prof. Kim Rando of Seoul National University announces his top 10 keywords for 2020. Every year since 2007, Prof. Kim has released a new version of his book series “Trend Korea,” each of which have become best-sellers in the country. [YONHAP]
Since 2007, consumer science Professor Kim Rando of Seoul National University has been predicting the top 10 trends of the upcoming year through his bestselling “Trend Korea” series.

Last Thursday, Prof. Kim unveiled “Trend Korea 2020,” and stressed that 2020 is going to be the year when people’s “multiple personas” rise to the surface.

“I thought about what was the driving force behind the different keywords this year, and they seemed to point to multiple personas,” explained Prof. Kim.

“Like psychiatrist Carl Jung said, the persona is a mask that people put on. People are really different inside and outside of the office. When you asked someone their identity in the past, they might have said that they are a member of a certain household or company, but those don’t apply to today’s nomadic society. Rather, people identify themselves more with their hobbies or communities.”

The rise of social media fuels this phenomenon, Prof. Kim elaborated.

“People nowadays use several social media channels for different purposes - Twitter for voicing political opinions, Instagram for uploading pictures of food, etc. They sometimes have multiple accounts on a single platform, expressing different personalities in each. The selfies they post online look so different from their actual self that they will take the photos to plastic surgeons so that they can look like their online persona.”

Multiple personas, also described by Prof. Kim as “Me and Myselves,” is the first of 2020’s top 10 keywords as well as the first letter of “Mighty Mice,” the acronym that encapsulates all of the keywords of 2020. Next year is also the year of the rat in the Chinese Zodiac.

Like “Me and Myselves,” many of next year’s keywords reflect the behavior and attitudes of millennials, the cohort born between 1980 and 2000 that make up much of the incoming workforce.

Another phrase on the list is “Goodness and Fairness.” The idea suggests that millennials are relentlessly insistent on fair play, having grown up in an environment of fierce competition and online transparency. “Elevate Yourself,” the last keyword, is a continuation of the idea of the multiple personas - because young Koreans today don’t associate their identity to their work, they spend more time on becoming a better version of themselves, as opposed to focusing on getting promoted earlier than a co-worker, a common ambition in previous generations.

“You’re with Us, ‘Fansumer,’” a reference to fast-evolving K-pop fan culture, in which fans make huge investments to promote their favorite stars, is also on this year’s top 10. The trend of “Iridescent OPAL,” or older people with active lives, was going to extend as well, Kim predicts.

Along with “Trend Korea 2020,” Kim also released the top 10 consumer goods and services that best reflected the trends of 2019. These included eco-friendly products as well as Instagrammable novelty foods, reflecting how consumers were applying different standards when making purchases.

“Trend Korea 2020” is written by Seoul National University’s Consumer Trend Center, which Prof. Kim heads. The series has been responsible for introducing terms like “New-tro” and “work-life balance” into the mainstream discourse.

BY KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]