The Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises in 2023 and Insights from Byung-Chul Han's "Society of Fatigue"


Hatched by Thati

Feb 25, 2024

3 min read


The Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises in 2023 and Insights from Byung-Chul Han's "Society of Fatigue"


In 2023, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) experienced a 7% growth, thanks to the recovery of household income and favorable market conditions. This growth was supported by various economic policies and improved purchasing power. However, not all sectors of SMEs saw the same growth, as there were variations across different industries. At the same time, philosopher Byung-Chul Han offers unique insights into the societal implications of fatigue and the impact of technology. This article aims to explore the commonalities between these two seemingly unrelated topics and provide actionable advice for SMEs based on these insights.

The Growth of SMEs in 2023:

According to the IODE-SMEs, service-based SMEs recorded a growth of 9.8% in the fourth quarter, contributing to an overall increase of 4.4% for the year. However, the commerce sector experienced a decline of 3.6% compared to the previous year. In the infrastructure sector, there was a 2% decrease, primarily due to a decline in activities such as infrastructure works and waste management. Despite these variations, all regions saw growth in 2023, with the northern region leading the way.

Insights from Byung-Chul Han's "Society of Fatigue":

Byung-Chul Han, a philosopher based in Berlin, shares his experiences and reflections on modern society. One of his key observations is the prevalence of fatigue and burnout, particularly in Korean society. He attributes this to the rapid transition from an agricultural to an industrial nation, resulting in a society overwhelmed by exhaustion and even suicides. Han also highlights the negative impact of technology, specifically smartphones, which contribute to information fatigue and an obsession with digital exposure. He further explores the contradictions of freedom, where the pursuit of individual freedom can lead to internal compulsions and control, exemplified by the surveillance and exposure culture on social media.

Connecting the Dots:

Although SMEs and Byung-Chul Han's societal observations may seem unrelated, there are common threads that can be drawn. Both highlight the importance of a balanced approach to growth and the potential pitfalls of societal pressures. SMEs, like individuals in a fast-paced society, can easily succumb to burnout and exhaustion if not managed carefully. Furthermore, the impact of technology on both SMEs and individuals cannot be ignored, as it can lead to information overload and a constant need for validation.

Actionable Advice for SMEs:

  • 1. Prioritize Work-Life Balance: Recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance within your organization. Encourage employees to take breaks, avoid overworking, and foster a supportive environment that values their well-being. This can help prevent burnout and improve overall productivity.
  • 2. Embrace Technology Mindfully: While technology can be a powerful tool for growth, it is crucial to use it mindfully. Encourage employees to disconnect from digital distractions periodically and establish boundaries for technology use. This can help reduce information fatigue and improve focus and creativity.
  • 3. Foster Authentic Connections: In a society driven by exposure and validation, it is essential for SMEs to focus on building genuine connections with their customers and employees. Emphasize the value of authenticity, trust, and personal interactions. This can create a sense of belonging and loyalty, ultimately benefiting the growth and success of your business.


The growth of SMEs in 2023 and Byung-Chul Han's insights on societal fatigue offer valuable lessons for businesses navigating a fast-paced and technologically driven world. By prioritizing work-life balance, embracing technology mindfully, and fostering authentic connections, SMEs can thrive while avoiding the pitfalls of burnout and societal pressures. As we move forward, it is crucial to recognize the interconnectedness of economic growth and individual well-being for a sustainable and prosperous future.

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