UPDATE : 2017.11.16 목 11:07

[Vol. 76] Honnol: Keep calm and hang out by yourself!

박선주 기자l승인2016.11.30l수정2017.02.12 20:14

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This is a quote from a beloved drama, Drinking Solo. “It is a refreshing time only for myself. There is no need to unnecessarily put energy to seem nice. That is why I prefer to drink alcohol by myself!” On top of that, TV show programs whose themes are eating alone or traveling alone like Let’s meet up at 8p.m. and I travel alone has started to air this year and fascinated viewers. As it shows, there are more and more people enjoying their single life alone in the advent of five million single-person households, and hanging out by oneself is indeed all the rage these days.

Honnol becomes a new trend

Hangout by oneself had been considered as an unsociable behavior. In fact, it is very common to do something by oneself in western countries. In Korea, contrarily, “doing together” has been highly valued in accordance with the groupism culture. People minded going somewhere such as the movie theater and the shopping mall alone, worrying that they might be seemed like they do not have friends.

However, “Honnol,” which refers hangout by oneself, is not a minor hobby anymore these days; that is, it began to be considered as a culture centering around younger generations. According to a research from Joongang Ilbo, 49.5 percent of the respondents out of 1000 adults said that they enjoy spending time by themselves than before. As well, Incruit, a website, conducted a survey of 443 college students and reported that around 75 percent of the students thought themselves Honnol people, and the majority of the student had a positive view about it. 

As the perspectives towards people who enjoy spending time alone have been changed, lone with lounging has been in the spotlight. A newly coined word “lone with lounging” from a book, Trend Korea 2013, is formed from the words alone and lounging which means going or moving in a leisurely, indolent manner. It includes going to a karaoke, a restaurant, a bar, shopping mall and a theater and even traveling alone and spreads out so fast as a trend. Besides, people post how amazingly they hung out by themselves as well as recommend good restaurants and entertaining activities for Honnol people through SNS.

Why is Honnol so popular?

One of the biggest reasons of Honnol is a remarkable growth in single population. Nowadays, living alone is becoming one of the main households and Korean single-member households has rapidly increased. They had accounted for 9 percent of the total population until 1990, but raised to 23.9 percent of the total population in 2010. Moreover, this situation is expected to continue, given the current trend that single people living alone are increasing around the world. 

In the increase of the single-member households, accordingly, the relevant businesses targeting them have developed. There are not only restaurants with a partition for solo customers but also popular BBQ restaurants with brazier only for the single customers which people never imagined before. Quiet bars for solo drinkers and karaoke for solo singer are opening too. They encourage single people to have fun by themselves rather than find friends to hang out with.

People are also fascinated with lone with lounging for practical reasons. Honnol culture comes from adesire to concentrate on what “I” want to do rather than concern other people. “It is more efficient to spend money and time alone doing my own hobby rather than hanging out with friends. Normally I am too busy to have much spare time with others,” said Park So-yeon, KNUE student. Kim Sang-hak, a sociology professor at Hanyang University, stated that younger generations these days feel pressured spending their time and money to socialize with others as well as have a kind of resistance toward groupism.

Some people worry that this society somehow incites modern people to get used to being alone. Unemployment crisis and too competitive environment make people put their most time and effort into works and deprives them time to socialize. People, in fact, feel lonely and they want to get along with others. For example, they consistently communicate with others through their smartphones like using SNS, watching the eating show, so-called Mukbang, even when they have a meal by themselves. Lone with lounging could be a kind of action for modern people to deal with their loneliness. 

Meanwhile, it is a structurally natural phenomenon in the growth of the number of people living alone. Honnol itself is not a culture we should see negatively, even though there are some worries. Spending time alone is not what the odds or social misfits do. It is the way for people to relax out of tension and anxiety from competitive life as well as to treat oneself better. Lee dong-woo, a neuropsychiatry professor at Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital, sees Honnol culture as the expression of modern people’s desire to be close to oneself. He says, “People tend to less pay attention to themselves under the cut-throat life concerning the evaluation of others. Honnol is a strive to recover the relation of themselves.”


박선주 기자  sunjup1103@hanmail.net
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