The Korea Herald


‘0’ in job ads highlights generation gap

By No Kyung-min

Published : April 16, 2024 - 14:48

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Recruitment poster on Nerdult's YouTube community page (Nerdult) Recruitment poster on Nerdult's YouTube community page (Nerdult)

An online row has erupted after viewers interpreted "0" in a job posting made by a South Korean comic YouTube channel as offering literally zero openings, when it was meant to signify an unspecified number of positions.

The sketch comedy channel “Nerdult," with approximately 1.85 million subscribers, posted a recruitment notice on their YouTube community page on Friday, seeking an undisclosed number of new actors. In the post, they left the number of available positions as "0," stating, "We are recruiting actors of all ages for diverse roles. We hope to see many apply to join us."

However, for some young Koreans unfamiliar with job advertisements, it was perceived as an insult, as the channel's use of "0" for available positions seemed to sarcastically imply a search for zero actors.

Yet, as per the National Institute of the Korean Language, if the number of available positions in recruitment advertisements is uncertain or confidential, employers can use blank circles to match the number of digits without disclosing a specific number.

Many recruiters often opt to use the number zero as a blank circle. Hence, "0" denotes a single-digit number of employees, up to 9, while "00" indicates up to 99.

This issue has brought new attention to the issue of declining literacy levels among young Koreans.

After certain comments, which appeared to have been deleted, reportedly berated the YouTube channel's apparent use of zero, many viewers were incensed by what they saw as ignorance.

One user specifically targeted Generation Z -- those born between 1996 and 2010 -- stating, "These days, Gen Z lacks literacy skills and interpretative abilities."

Another critique focused on their lack of humility rather than their ignorance, as shown in one comment reading, "Ignorance is not a sin. However, being proud of it is."

However, not all Korean youth were indignant. A middle school student expressed gratitude, stating, "I am in my second year of middle school. I have gained new useful knowledge."

This incident is not the first time concerns about falling literacy skills have been flagged among Koreans.

In August 2022, a Seoul cafe's online apology for glitches in its registration system backfired, as they used the word "simsim," meaning "deep and profound.” Yet, some users apparently misunderstood the phrase, as the word is a homonym meaning "bored" in Korean, thus interpreting the cafe's apology as tedious rather than deep and profound.

Other instances include misinterpreting the word “saheul” to mean four days instead of three days, as “sa” means four in Korean, or misunderstanding “geumil,” meaning “today” in Korean, due to its similarity in sound to the Korean word “geumyoil," or Friday.

Job posting on Nerdult's YouTube community page (Nerdult) Job posting on Nerdult's YouTube community page (Nerdult)