Snoozing on the Seoul subway encouraged. Jrwooley6/Flickr

In a nation with the highest rate of stress-related suicides, citizens of Seoul vie for the title of most spaced-out.

South Korea, land of tech giants like Samsung and LG, is one of the most wired countries in the world; its smartphone penetration rate is 70 percent, compared to 58 percent in the U.S. Users have internet access throughout the country’s subways and Seoulites can now charge their phones at hydropower stations in Cheonggyecheon, a waterway running through the city. The frenetic pace of the city is enough to inspire a competition that requires people to do just the opposite: Chill out.

Korean performance group Duo Elect2ronic-ship is running a “space-out” competition. In the contest, a hand-picked group of 50 people will sit in chairs by city hall and, as the name of the contest suggests, do nothing.

“Because of smart devices, we are unable to escape from external stimulation even for a moment. In such a society, I wanted to contemplate the idea of not doing anything,” one of the organizers told South Korean news site the Hankyoreh.

For three hours, participants will not be allowed the distractions of listening to music, using mobile phones, reading, or sleeping. Mindless activities like head-scratching will be permitted, according to the group’s Facebook page (link in Korean). After the three-hour period, the participant with the lowest measured heart rate and the most relaxed body (as judged by observers’ votes) wins.

The notion that it’s healthy to zone out would help boost the mental health of Korea’s competitive and stressed-out citizens. It might even help grow the economy (mind-wandering allows people to be creative and come to new solutions). Currently, South Korea has the highest rate of stress-related suicides at 40 a day, and many of those are youths.

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

More from Quartz:

Could Scotland’s Currency Be Bitcoin?

Five Errors That Immediately Get Your Resume Rejected at Google

There Is Increasing Evidence That the Islamic State Is Expanding Into Asia Pacific

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    The Future of the City Is Childless

    America’s urban rebirth is missing something key—actual births.

  2. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

  3. a photo of the First Pasadena State Bank building, designed by Texas modernist architects MacKie and Kamrath. It will be demolished on July 21.
    Design

    The Lonely Death of a South Texas Skyscraper

    The First Pasadena State Bank, a 12-story modernist tower inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, has dominated this small town near Houston since 1962.

  4. A NASA rendering of a moon base with lunar rover from 1986.
    Life

    We Were Promised Moon Cities

    It’s been 50 years since Apollo 11 put humans on the surface of the moon. Why didn’t we stay and build a more permanent lunar base? Lots of reasons.

  5. A crowded street outside in Boston
    Life

    Surveillance Cameras Debunk the Bystander Effect

    A new study uses camera footage to track the frequency of bystander intervention in heated incidents in Amsterdam; Cape Town; and Lancaster, England.                            

×