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LAST QUARTER MOON IN CAPRICORN - April 13-19

You can have more courage, be more daring, give yourself a chance that until now you never even thought about. Your stubbornness is bound to encounter some resistance, but I'm sure you will find the right spark to start your engines. Days like Friday or Saturday favor employment initiatives and new projects. In love you have no rivals — everything is born and lives in amazement. Those tired of their relationship can move towards major decisions, or even to the arms of a lover.

TEMPO: allegro coraggioso


The thing that really keeps you awake at night is how the world seems to revolve around convenience rather than merit. Especially at work, knowing how hard you have to struggle to further your progress. In this sense, keep your calm at the beginning of the week. New loves continue with passion but seem to be complicated. Older relationships find themselves constrained and pushing back projects. Everything will begin again this summer, but for now, be patient.

TEMPO: andante forzato


You should know this right now: Starting this summer, Jupiter and Saturn will begin a difficult aspect within your sign. Nothing necessarily disastrous — but my advice is to stabilize everything at work and in love right now. This week should be one for defining your future projects. To address your objectives, decide what to do and get started at once. There will be opportunities and emotions on Monday, but an unforgiving Moon on Thursday.

TEMPO: marcia definendo


There's still some fear in the air after last month's disruptions but in most cases it was all in your head rather than caused by an actual event. A close friend can help overcome a problem with your partner, or a colleague can be an incentive for progress. Wednesday and Thursday are interesting days to make new contacts or attract a wonderful opportunity.

TEMPO: moderato vivace


Venus is now being less difficult and couples who have recently discussed something can enjoy moments of calm. Even new loves, if they have survived the recent hubbub, can carry on peacefully. Tensions remain at work — for some there is little motivation to continue. Tiredness doesn't bring lucidity, so decisions should be postponed. And put the brakes on your pride.

TEMPO: adagietto stanco


Rage often coops you up and doesn't facilitate the choices you should be making instinctively. This isn't to say you will be thrown off balance, but you have to find a compromise that gives relief to the emotional-passionate aspect. Especially on days like Wednesday or Friday, when there may be confrontations at work. Part-time lovers are on their way for lonely hearts — and for those in crisis for a long time, there are some sins ahead … of the gluttonous kind.

TEMPO: marcia con equilibrio


Get ready for a U-turn: Venus and a revolutionary aspect of Mars and Mercury warn us that the winds are changing. Early in the week, a call comes with an interesting opportunity that can peep into the professional sphere. In love, couples begin to talk about projects involving the house or living together, while lonely hearts aspire to the first emotions of spring. Go with the flow — you won't regret it.

TEMPO: moderato in rivoluzione


Vigilance is required at the moment. Costs are going through the roof, maybe because of investments or future projects. As previously mentioned, the sky is on your side in the long run, so now is the time to bite the bullet. This week still sees obstructions at work: delays, postponements, tensions with the boss or a co-worker. In love, the waters are troubled and at the weekend there may be a moment of confrontation with your partner — how stable is your relationship?

TEMPO: lento in ritardo


This week's focus is on work. Already in recent weeks there have been moments of strength and recovery. The mood is positive, even though a sense of fatigue can be felt midweek. But love has doubts: Those dragging a relationship in crisis may soon reach a solution — though in some cases it'll mean a clean break. Nothing to fear for established couples, where some family responsibilities may arise. Lonely hearts begin hibernating.

TEMPO: marcia affaticato


With this trine of Mercury, which will be active from Tuesday, opportunities and change in love will happen. This is especially true for hears that have been lonely for a long time — it's time for you to come out of your cave and be seen around. It's a beautiful week for couples, between projects and a re-invigorated Eros. Midweek, you may sign a work or family agreement. Stars continue to be favorable to those who have decided to change their direction in life.

TEMPO: vivacissimo con brio


It's undeniable that couples have recently experienced a period of estrangement. The reason is work, family responsibilities or even in some cases, physical distance. Now you're trying to recover and your efforts are appreciated — but it seems like you're still rowing against the tide. In this sense, pay attention around the weekend. At work there will be good news early this week. Plan and you will be successful.

TEMPO: andante moderato


Venus' quadrature has now begun to show visible effects. Something in your relationship has cracked and you just can't ignore. For some, it's time to act and speak out, dealing with everything that is wrong — calmly, though. There is great energy at work instead, where midweek you will receive good news, begin a project or close a deal. Always assess opportunities and be forward-looking.

TEMPO: adagio con dubbio

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Society

Debt Trap: Why South Korean Economics Explains Squid Game

Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.

In the Netflix series, losers of the game face death

Yip Wing Sum

-Analysis-

SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.

The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.


It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.

Seoul housing prices top London and New York

In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.

According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.

Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.

One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.

According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.

Playing the stock market

At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.

A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."

In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.

42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s

Simon Shin/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Game of survival

In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.

But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.

This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.

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