According to the research conducted by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHSA), a growing number of South Koreans are declining to get married and are not even interested in dating. One of the possible reasons is because dating is expensive and dangerous.
The Korea Herald reported that last 2015, 90 percent of men and 77 percent of women between the ages of 25 to 29 are celibates. Most South Koreans decided to be single by choice because of economic problems, dating problems, and social issues.
The nation’s overall unemployment rate is 3.4 percent, the highest record yet for 17 years. For the country’s youth between ages 15 to 29, the unemployment rate is 10.8%. The job market in the country is famed to be very competitive. Most individuals spend their free time in schools to improve their professional skills and get certificates, which can help them land their dream jobs.
CNN‘s Sophie Jeong recently interviewed a 24-year-old male student named Kim Joon-Hyup to get to a better idea about the issue and get to know the views/opinions of the country’s younger generation.
Kim is studying full time at Sejong University. But every weekday evening, he also attends another institution to study game design. Kim doesn’t have time to date. If he was in a relationship, he will be sorry for her since he wouldn’t be able to invest time.
For South Korean couples, dating and marriage are both expensive. Duo, a matchmaking industry, estimated that the usual cost per date is 63,494 won (around $55). Individuals who live with minimum-wage paychecks have to work more hours to afford a single date.
Meanwhile, to get married, couples spend an average of $90,000 for the overall wedding expenses, a 2013 survey reported. There is also a wedding tradition in South Korea, which they call “trading wealth.” For example, if a female marries a doctor, her family needs to pay a considerable amount to the groom’s family in exchange for an elite social status.
Dating in South Korea is not only expensive but can also be dangerous too. One of the major societal issues of the nation is sex crimes, illegal recording of sexual acts or voyeurism, and gender discrimination.
The National Police Agency reported a massive increase in sexual violence crimes. Data received from the 2008 sex crime survey revealed that there are 16,000 cases, and in 2017, the number of cases doubled. In most cases, the assault comes from the victims’ lover or date.
Furthermore, dating does not end up in physical abuse. Last 2017, there have been more than 6,400 cases of unauthorized recording. Recently, a viral scandal involving famous K-Pop Star Jung Joon-young circulated on the internet. He was arrested last March and accused of taking videos of women during sex without their consent. Worst case scenario, he shares the said videos on the internet explicitly.
Another possible reason why most South Koreans prefer to be single is that they have a culture which values work and study over relationships. Last 2017 OECD stated that an average South Korean works almost 250 hours more compared to their United States counterpart.
South Korea is known to have the lowest birth rate in the world. Last December, it dropped to 0.95, which means that for every 100 women, only 95 children are born. For the nation to have a steady workforce, the birth rate should be 2.1.
This fact can result in a community mostly composed of older people in the future. Lee Jong-wha, an economist from the Korea University, predicted that by 2030 almost one-third of the South Korean population would be age 65 or older.
South Korean government is aware and have created programs to solve this upcoming labor force problem. Starting in 2005, it allocated 36 trillion won (US$32.1 billion) to lessen the financial burden to families. They offered monthly childcare subsidies and other incentives to young families.
Also, universities in South Korea are offer dating classes. For example, Sejong University offers a gender and culture course which covers topics related to choosing a suitable marriage partner and how to deal with breakups. This move also aims to teach students the idea that dating does not necessarily need to be expensive if one knows how to think creatively.
Nevertheless, to some critics, there are still a lot of things that should be done to make a significant impact to motivate the country.