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The mid-aged people who live alone and in loneliness

Posted September. 29, 2018 07:36,   

Updated September. 29, 2018 07:36

한국어

Single-person households accounted for 28.6 percent of the total number of households in Korea last year, which was up by 2.5 times from the figure aggerated in 2000. An intriguing fact is that the number of people aged 34 or below living alone saw a sharp drop while there was a spike in that of those aged 35 or above: age 25-34 decreasing from 51.9 percent to 38.0 percent (-13.9 percentage points) vs. age 35-44 and age 45 or above increasing from 17.5 percent to 24.3 percent (+6.8 percentage points), and from 5.5 percent to 19.5 percent (+14.0 percentage points). The variations may be associated with the fact that the unwed living alone went up slightly while a significant increase was seen in the share of those classified as single-person households after getting divorced or experiencing separation by death.

Korean language dictionaries define a middle-age person as being around the age of 40, by which single-person households can be categorized into three types: singles who have yet met the right person; middle-aged divorcees living alone; and elderly citizens who lost their spouse with their adult children away home. It may be natural that people come to age and find themselves left alone at older ages after their spouse passes away. However, the fear of living alone and in loneliness until the last day comes can hit those as young as 40 so hard.

Staying single before turning 40 is not as peculiar as it was thought of as in the past. Nowadays, singles may start to feel self-conscious around the time when they are in their forties. "Flaming Youth," one of Korean TV shows, features those living alone, which happen to be in their forties. Another TV program, "I Live Alone," mainly depicts 30-something celebrities, but unwed actresses in their 40s are sometimes starred in episodes, too, getting a lot of attention and popularity. Putting the spotlight on 40-somethings who live alone may seem like admiration for extended young days, but in fact, it is merely limited to pity for youth that you never let stop getting far away.

Women today are better-nourished enough to dream of having kids until they become in their early forties. However, turning 45 is a different story. Medically, doctors see that middle age starts the age of 45. If living alone is a result out of one’s own choice, there is less of trouble. However, if that is not the case, such an unpleasantly solitary life can lead to depression, alcoholism and others. Loneliness felt by adults in mid-age needs social attention and care just as low birth rates and ageing population have been at the center of public discussion.


pisong@donga.com