The people in this picture are the members of a new dance group Refund Sisters(환불원정대). They actively worked on the stages and appeared on the show program. Even they won the first prize on the Music Core(쇼!음악중심), which is the music contest program of MBC. However, this group have something different compared to any other common Korean dance group. Actually, the members of Refund Sisters, Cheon Ok(천옥), Man Ok(만옥), Eun Bi(은비), Sil Bi(실비) are not real rookies. Each member represents “sub-character” that made by Lee Hyori, Uhm Jung-hwa, Jessi, Hwasa, who are the Korean celebrities who already worked as a famous dancing musician.
The whole process from birth to disbandment of this group is produced as episodes in HANG OUT WITH YOO(놀면 뭐하니), reality show program in Korea. A manager of group and the head of the agency also worked with their own sub-character and are called as a name of sub-character not as their original name. However, the public do not think this strange but were fascinated by the emergence of new and fresh entertainment elements. Sub-characters that are made up by celebrities rather come to public as the new element to feel fun. As a totally new characters, they showed their new identities and chemistries throughout the whole program.
The concept of a sub-character was only used in online games in the past. It was mainly used when game user makes another account to restart the different play in the game, not using their original character. However, it has been expanding into the daily life of ordinary people as the concept of the sub-character is being used widely in the broadcasting area in recent Korean society. Nowadays, the concept of sub-character has been used to refer to "when acting with my new identity or character, not as a usual character of me". Jung Deok-hyun, a critic of pop culture, says that the need for a sub-character to explore life other than work has emerged to modern people being free from the thought they did as the original character, “work is everything”.
The trend of sub-character in the broadcasting area and daily life could be explained as an extension of “Multi-Persona” theory, which Kim Nan-do, Seoul National University professor in department of consumer science suggested as one of the 10 consumption trends of 2020. The word Multi-Persona is a combination of “Multi” meaning several people and Latin word “Persona” meaning mask. It means that individuals can transform into different people according to the situations and express various identities like changing the mask in masque performance. Another expression of Multi-Persona, “Me and Myselves” used by Kim Nan-do express the feature of Multi-Persona more easily.
The representative example of Multi-Persona in recent is the “N Jober(N잡러)”. This is a newly coined term in Korea that combined “N” meaning plural, “Job”, and “-er” meaning a person who works. It refers to people who have two or more jobs. Although a word “Two Jobs(투잡)” which means having multiple jobs similar to “N Jober” already exists, it is mainly used to point out the form of making more profits than having only one job. N jober is used to point to people who challenge and implement various things they want to do not just for making profits. For example, someone who works at one’s desk on weekdays, while can passionately actives as a member of a music band on weekends, or a person who serves as both office worker and YouTuber is N Jober who does various things and has diverse kinds of jobs for self-development and more fabulous life.
Multi-Persona is also being expressed on-line. A person can link various identities to linked to hobbies or leisure activities and creates SNS(Social Network Service) accounts to express various identities or show their hobby activities. Pursuant to a market research reported by GlobalWebIndex, more than 98 percent of Internet users use SNS, and per person has the number of 7.6 SNS accounts on average. Through those many SNS accounts, people share posts that show different aspects of them. For example, they show their ideal life on one of accounts sharing with all of their acquaintances. While they show their natural emotion or thoughts sharing only with their close friends through another account.
Not only in Korea, but also in other countries, there is a similar concept to the Multi-Persona. That is a “Slasher”, which is modeled after a slash(/). It originated from the appearance of listing several jobs using slash like marketer/writer/photographer, and so on. Foreigners are paying attention to social trends and job structure led by slashers. This term, which first appeared in OnePerson, Multiple Carers(한 사람, 다중직업), written by Marci Alboher, the New York Times columnist also shows a phenomenon of pluralistic life-seeking.
There are two main factors that Multi-Persona has become a part of our daily lives. First, the concept of the Multi-Persona can be understood from the social structural factor. As the various technologies have been rapidly developed and the life expectancy has been increasing remarkably, the concept of lifelong job got weaker than before. According to a survey conducted with 1,000 adult men and women aged 19 to 59 nationwide in 2018 by the Embrain Trend Monitor, a market research company, 54.5 percent of the respondents said that the concept of a lifelong workplace can hardly exist on nowadays.
Especially, People who say it is difficult to have a lifelong job in these days cited “uncertainty in employment” as the main reason. 61.1 percent of the respondents said there is always job insecurity that may be fired at any time, 48.1 percent of the respondents expressed concern the bankrupt of company due to the worsening economic conditions. The survey shows people feel that it has become difficult to have expectations for a lifelong job amid an employment environment that anybody expects exactly when and how it will change. For these reasons, people try to spend the rest of the time seeking for the new job or hobby to prepare their future.
There is also a psychological perspective that explains the multi-persona is close to human nature. According to a book SIGNATURE, Lee Hang-shim, who is a professor of psychology said that multi-persona is the phenomenon that reflects the inner desire from deep inside of heart, "I want to live a life that is only once, and I want to live as who I am." In other words, the experience of various identities is the process of finding the true self. Because Multi-Persona is not a phenomenon of me being separated and fragmented, but a phenomenon created by my psychological desire and effort to find an integrated me through a various job or hobby activities.
Multi-Persona phenomena which caused from these factors usually do positive functions in lives of people. However, there are also side effects when people utilize the Multi-Persona in an undesirable way. For instance, while the Multi-Persona trend expanding to many people, the base of self-identity has become very unstable. There is psychological definition of Multi-Persona, “My identities understood by others”. People who overly concerned about how they will be understood by others have problems such as Digital Mythomania(디지털 허언증) which is the type of the syndrome displaying exaggerated or non-existent themselves on social media. In addition, many people experience empty emotion while creating another identity in a superficial relationship that every member does not easily reveal their inner feelings.
To avoid these side effects and give off various inner identities well through Multi-Persona, people need to take effort to control their mind and identities healthy. Susan Kuang, who is an author of the Book Living as a Multi-group(멀티족으로 산다), as a representative icon of the multi-life, she mentioned about the condition that required to the slashers. "You should be strongly self-controlled, know how to self-investment and discipline yourself for a certain period of time, and have your own strength and competitiveness." If people effort to broaden their horizons and manage their inner self, they will be able to utilize Multi-Persona phenomenon to establish one’s own path and find themselves in a rapidly changing, unstable modern society.