A strange ‘space-out competition’ recently saw 60 South Koreans in the country’s capital of Seoul put aside their smartphones and tablets and simply sit on the ground in a public park, thinking and doing nothing for 90 minutes. The person measured as having the most stable heart rate at the end of that period was judged the winner.
With more than 80% of its 50 million-strong population owning a smartphone, South Korea is considered one of the world’s ‘most wired’ countries. National statistics show that users spend an average of four hours a day tweeting, texting or playing video games on their handhelds, and about 15% show symptoms of addiction. This growing fixation with technology and the internet is seen as a serious problem, so to give people a chance to disconnect, if only for a short time, and promote a life free of information overload, a group of artists came up with the Space Out Competition.
The unique contest was thought up in 2014, as an art installation, but received such positive feedback that it eventually became a yearly event. This year, over 1,500 online applicants registered for one of the 60 available contestant places. Selected candidates then showed up at a riverside park in Seoul, where they were asked to sit on the ground without talking, sleeping, eating, moving around too much or using any electronic devices, for 90 minutes. “Let our brain – never free from information overload from a smartphone, TV or computer – relax! Let’s enjoy just thinking nothing,”the local council, which supported the event, said in a statement.
During the 90-minute period, contestants had their heart rate monitored, and the person with the most stable hart rate was declared the winner. This year, that title went to a local rapper known as Crush, who said he found the experience very relaxing. “I was so exhausted physically and mentally while preparing an album, so I just wanted to relax for a while,” he told reporters. “This event is highly recommended for those who have migraines or complicated thoughts.”
Organizers hope that their space out competition will inspire more people to let their brain rest from time to time amid living their busy lives, in which smartphones and computers have become so important.
Photos: Yonhap News Agency