South Korea

42% of single-person households eat two meals alone in South Korea

Single households increased by 15.5 per cent compared to 2000, according to Statistics Korea

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 2:29pm

By Kim Bo-eun

Kwon Se-na, a 29-year-old language instructor living by herself in Seoul, enjoys eating alone at home.

“It’s comfortable because I don’t need to be mindful of other people _ I like to eat while watching TV,” she said, noting that she has breakfast and dinner alone quite often.

To keep herself company, Kwon keeps fish in a bowl and raises six plants.

“It feels good to have something to take care of,” she said.

When she doesn’t work, Kwon spends time at coffee shops, reading and relaxing alone.

An increasing number of people are opting to live alone, instead of getting married and having children. According to Statistics Korea, single-person households accounted for 27.1 per cent of total households in 2015, up from 15.5 per cent in 2000.

As people live by themselves, it has also become increasingly natural to eat alone, which is a shift from the communal dining culture here.

Forty-two per cent of those living alone eat two meals a day by themselves on weekdays, according to a report from KB Financial Group, based on a survey conducted on 1,500 households, released Thursday.

According to the report, on the weekends, 49.2 per cent of single people had two meals alone, while 17.8 per cent said they ate three meals by themselves.

They either cooked at home, bought ready-made meals, or ordered in.

More than half of those living alone were comfortable eating, shopping and working out alone.

The respondents said they enjoy their freedom and ease of making decisions, but felt lonely. For companionship, 11.9 per cent were found to raise pets.

The report showed single-people households are relatively young, with 52.8 per cent aged below 40. Seven out of 10 were satisfied living alone, but women were happier with their lifestyle than men.

Women in their early 30s showed the highest satisfaction levels, while in the case of men, the older they were, the less they were happy with their lifestyle.

Among the respondents, 49.7 per cent said they would be content to continue living alone, but the figure was higher for women (63.1 per cent) than men (39.3 per cent).

42% of single-person households eat two meals alone