'Honjok' Lifestyle Growing in Popularity in South Korea

Many young people, especially women, are opting out of traditional society and living alone
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2020 7:30 PM CDT
Updated Jul 19, 2020 10:40 AM CDT
'Honjok' Lifestyle Growing in Popularity in South Korea
A street in Seoul.   (Getty/Diversity Studio)

The group of young people collectively known as "honjok" is growing in number in South Korea, but this isn't your typical mass movement. As restofworld explains, the term translates to "alone tribe," and it refers to young South Koreans—many of them women—who are opting out of traditional society and living alone. A whole new nomenclature is springing up to describe female honjok (honyeo), those who reject marriage and child-rearing (bihon), eating alone (honbap), drinking alone (honsul), traveling alone (honhaeng), going to the movies alone (honyeong), and even shopping alone (honsho). On the extreme are "4Bs," who reject sex and romantic relationships altogether. The trend is fairly recent, with use of such terms exploding in popularity in the early 2010s on social media (from dozens to more than 60,000 in 2016).

"At its core, honjok culture is about resisting South Korea’s establishment society and putting individual needs and desires above loyalty to hierarchy and authority," writes Ann Babe. The story includes interviews with several young women who got fed up with routine discrimination in the workplace and in their own families, making the shift to single living often out of "utter exhaustion and sheer desperation." Meanwhile, businesses of all kinds, from banks to bars to movie theaters, have acknowledged the change by tailoring a rising number of offerings to singles. The story digs into the cultural issues at play and has one more term to offer—NEETs. That refers to "not in education, employment, or training," and an estimated 1.2 million of the nation's 15-to-29-year-olds fall into the category, many of them by choice. (Click to read the full story.)

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