The birth of a new type of familyI’ve never lived by myself. I lived with my family when I was a student and until I got married. For a while, I dreamed of the single life, and sometimes I envy those who live alone. All the pains in life come from relationships, and not having a spouse, children and in-laws would make life so much easier.
Of course, I understand that many joys in life come from these relationships.
Single families are growing constantly. Individualism is expanding and economic burden is another major cause. Six years from now, the one-person household is estimated to become a majority. According to the Korea National Statistical Office, 30 percent of households will be one-person units, and the most common form of household.
But when you turn the television on, dramas often feature families with three generations. A divorced daughter often comes back to live with her parents, and the in-laws sometimes live in the same house. It is a dramatic set up, but these family dramas are too unrealistic.
Meanwhile, another notable form of household is the shared house. In dramas about love and the lives of the young generation, several independent people share the same residence. This is a new form of accommodation mostly found in college towns.
For example, “It’s Okay, That’s Love” on SBS features a psychiatrist whose wife and children live abroad, a single woman, a writer and a waiter living together. They are unrelated. While the writer is the owner of the house, he doesn’t have a landlord-tenant relationship with his housemates. They enjoy independent lives while equally contributing to household chores by taking turns. They have no blood relations but enjoy meals together. This is a new form of community and family without the restraints and involvement of the traditional family, supplementing the loneliness of a single life. Each member of the household is different in age and social status, but they maintain a relationship as friends.
In “Surplus Princes” on tvN, job-seekers live together, and college friends live together in KBS drama “Discovery of Love.”
Several friends suggested that we should leave the main downtown area of the city and live together in a suburb after retirement. The idea of sharing a house came up as we plan for our senior years. Many of my friends, some married, some divorced and others single, welcome the idea.
In fact, good friends could make the perfect housemates. The ultimate goal of a successful marriage is actually about being a true friend for life. A shared house is likely to change the lives of seniors and retirees soon.
*The author is a culture and sports news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 27, Page 31
by YANG SUNG-HEE