Asia picks its words of the year, and they are a bunch of sad characters

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Asia has chosen some somber words to sum up its year. China Realtime Report rounded up the character of the year (kanji of the year in Japan) from five Asian nations, which were based on polls or selected by a committee. Unlike Oxford Dictionaries’ choice for word of the year, these characters capture a sense of people’s anxiety and, in one case, of collective achievement.

 fang: house or home (China)

Even as real estate inflation in China is cooling down, the cost of buying a home in first-tier cities is still sky-high, smaller cities face rumors of collapsing prices, and the rent is too damn high.

 jia: fake (Taiwan)

A year of political and food safety scandals has left the Taiwanese unsure of what to believe.

  mai: haze (Singapore)

Pollution in this city-state hit historic levels this year.

 zhang: inflation (Malaysia)

A recent poll showed that 67% of Malaysians were worried about rising inflation, which could increase to 4% in 2014 from slightly more than 2% this year.

 wa: circle (Japan)

This character was chosen to represent how the Japanese people worked together to win the right to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, and how they endured the natural calamities that have struck the country.

Photo by Reuters/Tim Chong. Illustration by David Yanofsky.