South Korean math lecturer and YouTuber Chung Seung-je blames Instagram for South Korea’s low birth rate in a viral video.
“Insta is to blame”: In a video uploaded on Saturday to his YouTube channel, Chung, a well-known tutor at one of the country’s prolific private tutoring institutions, can be seen interrupting one of his math lectures to talk about how times have changed drastically due to social media. “Back in the day, we didn’t even have the word omakase,” he exclaims, referring to an expensive Japanese sushi dining experience. “Insta. Omakase. Golf?! It was all unimaginable.”
“We were all poor back then. We were all poor, but Koreans gave birth to a lot of babies,” Chung continues in a tone of disbelief. “But we’re all living well right now, so why aren’t people giving birth?”
“[The low birth rate] is all because of Insta. Insta creates an illusion that everyone is doing better than you,” the lecturer explained. “All the faces that are on Insta are lies. It’s a show of lies. Those people only smile when they take pictures and return to their glum state after.”
“But it seems like I’m the only one unhappy. So it seems like I am the only one who can’t raise a kid right,” the 46-year-old deduces. Citing an example of parents who only share photos of their children in expensive hotels, Chung argues other parents feel burdened to do the same for their children but are unable to afford to.
“Don’t trust Insta,” Chung concludes his rant. “The best times were when there was no Insta.”
Online reactions: With over 674,000 views and 11,000 likes on YouTube as of this writing, the clip has gone viral in South Korea.
“He could quit his job right now and eat omakase for the rest of his life, but why do Chung Seung-je’s words resonate with me,” one user commented.
“He’s a genius sensei that teaches you math and life,” another user wrote.
Agreeing with Chung’s rants regarding social media and its impact, many YouTube viewers also shared their experiences with Instagram, with some admitting that they fell into unhappiness because of the platform while others shared their positive experiences after quitting it.
“Ever since I quit Instagram, my mental health has gotten so much better,” one user shared. “After realizing that it’s all a show, I’m more comfortable with my life.”
However, some Twitter users disagreed with the math lecturer, calling Chung out for being part of the problem.
“I guess he’s right, but how many kids does teacher Chung Seung-je have?” one user critiqued. “He’s not even married. It’s not right to give a star lecturer the authority to comment on societal issues.”
South Korea’s decreasing birth rate: In recent years, South Korea’s birth rate has continuously plummeted, reaching an all-time low of 0.78 per woman in 2022, a new record for the world’s lowest fertility rate.
With a required fertility rate of 2.1 per woman to maintain a stable population, the decline has become a source of major concern for South Korean political leaders. Despite efforts to delay or reverse the low birth rate — including tripling baby payments and paying couples to have kids — attitudes towards having children have failed to change.