The Korea Herald


[Trending] #Small but certain happiness #小確幸

By Park Ju-young

Published : March 11, 2018 - 17:38

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Ever heard the Korean phrase “sohwakhaeng”? The phrase, which means “small but certain happiness,” is currently trending here and simply refers a small piece of happiness that can be easily found in daily life. 

The concept of the keywords were first introduced in a 1986 essay by Japanese author Murakami Haruki called “Afternoon in the Islets of Langerhans,” where he described a small piece of happiness as eating a freshly-baked loaf of bread with one’s hands, seeing neatly folded underwear in a drawer, wearing a new shirt that smells like clean cotton and letting a cat enter into a bed with a rustling sound.

These days, having a beer with close friends, drinking a cup of coffee in the afternoon or taking a relaxing bath after a long day could be a small but certain happiness. While they are not a big deal, they have the ability to brighten up a day.

When the phrase “sohwakhaeng” is searched on Instagram, more than 27,700 posts can be found with various photos showing how people enjoy their own small piece of happiness.

“I’m now drinking a cup of coffee that I brewed at home, with Hyukoh’s music and nice spring sunshine,” Instagram user “Salguzzam” said, posting a picture of oranges, slices of toast and a cup of coffee with the hashtag “small but certain happiness.” The picture garnered over 160 likes in an hour.

“Eating a warm scone with a Venti cup size of Starbuck’s Cool Lime Fizzio extra sparkling,” another Instagram user said, with a photo of freshly baked scones and the same hashtag.

The trend also affects consumer’s buying habits. Kim Nan-do, a professor at Seoul National University, picked the phrase as one of the most important keywords to understand the consumption trends of 2018.

“We are living in a time where hopes for a better tomorrow have been gradually faded,” Kim said at a book launching event. “But people would never give up on being happy, so they are more likely to rely on a small happiness and small hopes.”

(Instagram @salguzzam) (Instagram @salguzzam)

Kim Na-kyung, a 24-year-old office worker, said she feels truly happy when she buys emoticons on Kakaotalk. She regularly browses Kakaotalk’s store to check out newly-released emoticons to pick one to purchase.

“A set of emoticons only costs like 2,000 won ($1.8) on average, but it makes me full of happiness when I buy the new one and send it to my friends,” Kim said in an interview with The Korea Herald.

Kim buys two sets of emotions each month on average, but the number can soar to three or four in a week if she finds cute ones. She now has 55 sets of emoticons on her message application, each set bringing her a small but certain happiness.

Do you have yours? What makes you happy in your daily life?

By Park Ju-young (