“Trend,” by dictionary, is defined as a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people behave. However, in Korea, trend has become the imperative rule of living life to many.
Several years ago, parka by North Face, a brand which specializes in making clothes and accessories for hikers, became a big hit among secondary and high school students in Korea. The trend became so prominent within their society that students without this item were ridiculed and bullied. Some students were reported to be stealing from others or nagging their parents and asking them to buy one, despite the fact that they knew their parents could not afford such expensive clothing. This is a representative display of how seriously people follow trends in Korea.
One might argue that such phenomenon occurred only because the students were young and immature, and thus does not reflect on the whole society. However, many go through the same process during adult life. For instance, many students are pressured into choosing a “trendy major” in university. For the current generation, these consist of majors such as medicine and education, which gained popularity as they directly lead to well-paying and stable career paths.
Pressure appears in both apparent and dubious ways. Some students are directly told to apply to certain majors whereas for some students, trendy majors are already fixed in their heads since a young age. They grow up believing that these majors are the only choice for them, so they apply without pausing to think about what their true passion is.
Even when choosing a career path, people turn to jobs which are currently in trend. One such example is civil service examination. For this year’s exam, more than 22 million people have registered, reaching an all-time high.
Following trends certainly has benefits. A trend first emerges because people liked what the subject offered, whether it be employment or beauty. Following it would give people the feeling of stability, as the outcome is predictable and a sense of belonging, as they are doing what all the others are. However, one should always have the question in mind: is having a blind faith in following a trend beneficial?
The most basic characteristic of trend is that it is flexible. The North Face parkas were nowhere to be seen within two years, and many news reports were written on how those now-out-of-trend parkas were worn by the parents instead.
Trend has swept through various majors over the past century as well. For the last generation, majors related to natural sciences and engineering were considered to be the elite, providing secure employment. For the next generation, it is expected to be related to industries such as ICT and artificial intelligence.
Over the last few years, the food industry has also provided great examples of the downsides of following what is in trend. Once, franchises such as honey ice cream and sponge cake were spread nationwide. However, they decreased in number dramatically during the last few years, failing to deal with the fierce competition and the change in people’s consumption pattern.
Like so, trend flies by with time. Therefore, it is important to remind oneself not to consider trendiness as the biggest factor when coming to a decision, as it is not going to have an ever-lasting effect in life. It may seem obvious, but it is something many often overlook when making a decision. One’s subjectivity should be considered as a more important factor than how others think and behave.