In Seoul, South Korea, doing nothing has become a competitive sport. In one of the busiest and fastest moving cities in the world doing nothing has become a national competition. The aim of this contest is to literally do nothing for as long as possible, if you can stare off into space without nodding off or losing focus then you may be in with a chance of winning this unusual contest.


The space out competition is held in Ichon Hangang Park in Seoul, South Korea, once a year with a gathering of about 70 people, all there to compete in the annual stare out competition. The creator of this bizarre competition is the visual artist WoopsYang, who says she created the event back in 2014 as a way of highlighting how much people overwork their brains and equally just how much everyone can benefit from taking a break.
WoopsYang says; “I was suffering from burnout syndrome at the time, but would feel extremely anxious if I was sitting around doing nothing, not being productive in one way or another,” Once she realised she was far from alone in this feeling so she decided that everyone would feel better about doing nothing if everyone joined together to do nothing instead!


The space out competition is probably one of the only instances where you’ll find no smart phones in sight and instead of the familiar look of vacant staring into a screen, everyone is starting into space. If this is something you think you’d benefit from after a long and busy week at work then you will need to get practising.
The competition takes more skill than meets the eye, to win you have to stare into space the longest without losing concentration and without falling asleep. You’re not allowed to talk, check your phone or check the time. This competition has become so popular, to stand a chance of sitting in front of the panel of judges you’ll need to first be picked out of thousands of applicants fighting for one of 70 spaces in the competition.
The event lasts for 90 minutes and in that time the contestants heart rates are checked every 15 minutes to ensure everyone is in a complete state of chill. The person with the most stable heart rate wins. If a contestant needs to go to the toilet or feels any sort of discomfort, there are cards to hold up to make a request, so let’s hope you’re not too desperate.


It may surprise you that the space out competition is also a spectator’s sport, that’s right people come to watch other people starring into space! The creator WoopsYang believes that the space out competition is also a piece of performance art. She often encourages people to come dressed in outfits that depict their vocation; for example, some contestants sit in suits to give a depiction of the hectic day to life of living and working in the city and illustrate just how much everyone needs a break. The competition is held during the day to highlight the comparison of the busy city and a park full of people doing absolutely nothing.
South Korea is one of the busiest and most stressed out population in the world and it is for that reason that the space out competition is so important. There is a vast amount of research that points to the brain needing rest and downtime to mitigate the stress of our work and social lives. Resting the brain also helps us process information from the day and create memories and the space out competition helps with precisely that.