Why more Koreans are eating alone
29th May, 2016
Edited by Ms. Ye-lim Lee
A recent study by the Korea Health Promotion Foundation found that a large number of working Koreans aged 30-59 who eat alone do so because they want to save time or simply do not have anyone to eat with. Among the surveyed Koreans in their 30s, 38.7 percent of them said they eat alone because they do not have company during meal times. Meanwhile, 21.5 percent said they just did not have enough time to eat with someone else. Another 16.1 percent said they ate alone to save time.
In Jang’s case, it is a combination of both. His office only has two people, including himself, and his coworker often skips lunch because he wants to lose weight. Jang said, “Since I’m usually too busy with work before and after lunch, I don’t really want to make lunch plans – I don’t want to rush while eating with someone else,” he said.
There is a reason why Jang prefers boxed meals over dining alone at restaurants. He said he gets self-conscious when he eats alone in public, thinking others may judge him or think he is a “social outcast.” He often plays with his smartphone while eat at restaurants, in an attempt to “look very busy” rather than to appear as someone with no close friends or colleagues. “I think there still this public notion that if you are eating alone, there must be something wrong with your social life,” he said.
The unwelcoming attitude shown by servers or restaurant owners is also a factor. There were a number of times where he felt unwelcome during busy hours as he was occupying a table which was for three or four people, he said.
Overseas studies have shown that dining alone can be either good and bad for one’s health. A 2014 study by the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the U.S. found that eating behaviors can be “easily transmitted socially.” The study claimed that individuals who are surrounded by people who prefer high-calorie food are more likely to consume such food than solo eaters with healthy eating habits. Meanwhile, a 2013 study by the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer found that the “lonely nature” of solo dining can negatively affect individuals aged 40 or older. Researchers also found that elderly solo diners tend to consume fewer vegetables than those who eat as a couple, making them vulnerable to chronic health conditions such as diabetes. Among the Koreans who participated in the survey by the KHPF, 45.8 percent said they do not eat properly when eating alone, while 19.1 percent said they opt for fast food, such as hamburgers, when they have no one to eat with. At the same time, 15.3 percent said they tended to eat fast when eating by themselves, and 7.8 percent said they did not enjoy the food when eating without a companion, as they have no one to talk to.
“It’s no fun to eat by yourself,” Jang said. “Having lunch or dinner is not just about finishing your food. It’s a social activity – it’s all about sharing your food as well as your ideas and stories with others.” Yet South Korea has welcomed a number of restaurants that specifically cater to solo diners in recent years, some of which offer cubicle seats so guests don’t have to worry about the empty seat on the other side of the table.Shim Kwon-ho, a 31-year-old office worker in Seoul, said there is nothing wrong with doing activities alone – such as dining and going to concerts – and those who do it should be able to do so without having to worry about being judged. A frequent solo diner who also enjoys going to movies by himself, Shim said the biggest implication of the solo dining culture -- “honbap culture” in Korean -- is the word itself. “Why do we even need a separate, special word such as ‘honbap’ for those eating alone, while there isn’t a specific term for those who dine with others?” he said. “The very fact that people often think less of someone just because he or she is seen eating alone indicates the shared prejudice against those without the necessities defined by society, such as a girlfriend and friends.”
By Claire Lee(firstname.lastname@example.org)
● self conscious [self kɑ:nʃəs] : someone who always thinks about what others will think or what others will do if they do or say a certain thing.
● cater [keɪtər] : a group of people means to provide all the things that they need or want.
● opt for [ɑ:pt fə(r)] : to choose something; to make a decision about something.
● implication [ɪmplɪkeɪʃən] : The implications of something are the things that are likely to happen as a result.
● reluctant [rɪlʌktənt] : If you are reluctant to do something, you are unwilling to do it and hesitate before doing it, or do it slowly and without enthusiasm.
1. Do you feel anxious when eating out alone?
2. Why do you think some people are reluctant of eating alone?
Disclose Personal Information
about Brutal Criminals
We could see a long way to reach a consensus on whether to disclose personal information about vicious criminals or not until now. Time after time, the controversy of disclosure of individual information, including age, face and name, has been worsen.
When it comes to discussing this issue, pros argue that it is inevitable to reveal personal information of the criminals to public, for the sake of dewalfing the rate of vicarious crimes such as murder or sexual assault. Also, Most of powerhouses like England, Germany and France are in principle to disclose the criminal's information, putting a priority on the right to be informed for citizen and disclosure of the criminals' information, especially their face, can arise citizen's attention toward harsh crimes.
On the contrary, cons insist that the secondary damage could be occurred as an effect of opening personal information of the criminals.
Moreover, we cannot be sure that effect of opening information of criminals is positive.
Furthermore, most of the cases, as the criminals are not obviously confirmed about their crime, they are just suspected criminals.
Pros vs. Cons
Pros : 1. For the sake of dewalfing the rate of vicious crimes such as murder or sexual assault, it is unevitable to reveal personal information of the criminals to public.
2. Most of powerhouses like England, Germany and France are in principle to disclose the criminal's information, putting a priority on the right to be informed for citizen.
3. Disclosure of the criminals' information, especially their face, can arise citizen's attention toward harsh crimes.
Cons : 1. The secondary damage could be occurred as an effect of opening personal information of the criminals.
2. We cannot be sure that effect of opening information of criminals is positive.
3. Most of the cases, as the criminals are not obviously confirmed about their crime, they are just suspected criminals.
● consensus [kənˈsɛnsəs] : a general agreement.
● disclose [dɪsˈkləʊz] : make (secret or new information) known.
● vicious [ˈvɪʃəs] : deliberately cruel or violent.
● suspect [səˈspɛkt] : believe or feel that (someone) is guilty of an illegal, dishonest, or unpleasant act, without certain proof.