Single and proud of it: an influencer going against the grain in South Korea : News

South Korea is calling its low birth rate a “national emergency” and is pushing for more incentives to have children, but one influencer is touting the joys of single life.

In her peaceful home in the South Korean countryside, Seen Aromi practices yoga, sleeps in and encourages her more than 200,000 YouTube subscribers to feel no guilt about enjoying their solo lives.

“Not getting married is my greatest achievement,” the 37-year-old told AFP, adding that she never considered becoming a “good” wife or mother as her life’s goal.

It is considered a “disaster” that women are not having children in South Korea, she said, because the country has the lowest birth rate in the world and a rapidly aging population.

“But when I think about the potential downsides to not having children, I don’t see any.”

She wrote about her joy in escaping society’s expectations and enjoying her single life in a book, “I Can’t Help Living Well Alone,” which was an unexpected success.

Briefly topping the sales charts in South Korea, it attracted enthusiasm not only from other single women in their thirties, but also from an older generation, particularly widows and divorcees.

In her book, she rejoices in having “the freedom to be as lazy as I want” without facing criticism. “While some people get married because they don’t like being alone, others choose not to meet anyone simply because they like to lounge around,” she writes.

– Symbols of success –

Many young Koreans are forgoing marriage and children, experts say, partly for economic reasons, amid stagnant growth, soaring property prices in Seoul and intense competition for top jobs.

Others argue that broader cultural factors are at play.

South Korea remains a socially conservative country where single parenthood is frowned upon, same-sex marriage is not recognized, and married women often end up leaving the workforce. They spend an average of 3.5 times more time per day on housework and childcare than their male partners.

“Traditional expectations about the roles of men and women in the family sphere, as well as tensions between the sexes, are certainly linked to the current low birth rate,” Hyeyoung Woo, a sociology professor at the University of Portland, told AFP.

For the YouTuber, giving up the symbols of success – an apartment in Seoul, a well-paying job, a loving partner – allowed her to find genuine happiness.

“I have never worked for a big conglomerate, I don’t live in the city and I have never been married,” she told AFP.

She describes her experience living in Seoul as a miserable time, with exhausting commutes and stressful work.

After living abroad for years, working jobs ranging from hotel cleaner to meat packer at a chicken factory, and posting videos online about her life, she returned to South Korea and settled in a rural town.

She renovated an old family home and moved in, and ran her YouTube channel, which eventually had more than 200,000 subscribers.

Her videos cover topics as diverse as solo living, travel, fitness and yoga.

A single YouTube video now earns her five times more than she earned per month working in Seoul, and she can “live a much more independent life, which is extremely satisfying,” she says.

– Attacks –

However, his social media posts praising the single life have drawn attacks.

Some netizens counter that Seen Aromi must actually be lonely or call her “selfish” for not getting married.

She says she has had several fulfilling relationships, but that her independence and lifestyle are her top priority.

The success of her book shows that you can “be the best at something even if you lead an atypical life,” she says.

Most couples who have children do so because it makes them happy, and people who live alone also make choices for their happiness, which should be respected, she believes.

While others have children, the happy single woman says she is proud of her contributions in having “given birth to two YouTube channels and a book.”

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