Smaller spaces lead to more comfort
But smaller space actually brought more comfort. My office became simpler and cleaner. Because I didn’t have space to stock up old newspapers, I made sure that I read each day’s newspapers and threw them out right away. I kept only necessary things around my desk, and the simplicity blew away my dissatisfaction with the smaller space.
When I had a bigger space, I felt something was missing in the empty spaces, and I ended up bringing in unnecessary stuff. Then, I was bothered by the stuff constantly. When your house is too big, you keep more stuff, and then when you run out of space, you need a bigger house. An existentialist would say that a bigger space does not make your reality lacking, but when your conscience perceives that it is lacking, you desire to fill the space, which traps you in a vicious cycle.
There are many minimalists who realize the virtue of simplicity. The small-house movement is a trend in the United States and Japan. When you give up your belongings and live simply, you will realize what’s important and what makes you happy. Of course, those advocating the small-house movement go to an extreme.
Jay Shafer, the pioneer of the movement, lives in a tiny house, which is smaller than a parking space. Tomoya Takamura visited the tiny house and wrote “Recommending a Small House.” He claims that the “obsession with an average-size house” diminishes the quality of life.
I went to the “Minimal House” exhibition in Gwanhun-dong, central Seoul. Several architects offered ideas on small houses that are not so extreme, but taking their suggestions is not going to be easy. They recommend a small house with bright natural light where you can breathe in fresh air. However, how can an average Korean find a pleasant parcel of land to build a small house like that?
In reality, a house is more of an asset, and a bigger house costs more. The size of a house is translated into the magnitude of success, and we are constantly taught that living in a small house means that we are socially inferior. While people who don’t own homes are struggling to pay skyrocketing rent prices and the home itself becomes an existential reality, you may think that it is a luxury to be free from greed and downsize.
Of course, not all realizations offer a realistic alternative. But I want to imagine a society where people don’t get stressed over owning a big house and respect smaller houses and spaces. Then, the housing problem may not be so serious.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by YANG SUNNY