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Stressed People Pay for Solitude

During the pandemic, many of us turned to smartphones and screens to manage our stress. But as public life opens up again, some are looking for a different kind of escape.

At a cafe in Seoul, South Korea, called the Green Lab, patrons pay for timeslots to simply sit and do nothing. That’s right--they pay to do nothing. The Green Lab requires that no one is allowed to speak and all phones be turned off. A large glass window looks out onto a green forest and diffusers around the cafe release pleasing aromas. And every day, the three time slots are completely booked.

What we call “zoning out,” Koreans call “hitting mung”--allowing their minds to be completely blank.

A customer in her early thirties says, “I’ve been so tired, and I don’t even have time to space out. After work, I go home, and I have to do housework, and then I barely have 30 minutes to an hour before I need to sleep. I spend that time on my phone. So, with a space like this, I can actually focus on taking a break.”

A business owner reflected, “It made space in my brain. I even read a book, enjoyed the smell of diffusers, looked at flowers, wrote poetry. I started getting new ideas, one by one, and I felt so refreshed.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

Work, family, responsibilities constantly ask for our attention. Many can identify with the need for a space to do absolutely nothing. Jesus experienced this and modelled retreating to quiet places to rest and reconnect with his heavenly Father.


Michelle Ye Hee Lee, “‘Hitting mung’: In stressed-out South Korea, people are paying to stare at clouds and trees,” The Washington Post (11-25-21)

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