Not a Single House for Me1)
Independent living is always a topic of conversation among university students. There’s life in the dormitory or the renting of a studio apartment, but neither of them is easy to obtain. Entering the dormitory is typically done by a lottery system but rooms are also allotted to students who have achieved a high scholastic rank. At Sookmyung, dorm rooms are determined by a lottery draw, and about 4.2% of the student body will be successful in getting a room. Students who fail to enter the dormitory, despite living far from the center of Seoul, must look for housing on their own. House hunting, however, is never easy. According to statistics and analysis by Dabang, a real estate application, the average monthly rent for a place near Sookmyung in 2018 was 470,000 won. To cover their housing expense, students should work more than 56 hours a month based on a minimum wage system. With other expenditures such as room deposit, food, maintenance, and others, it is very hard for young people to make ends meet each month. Moreover, the conditions of the rooms are not worth the rental cost. A cheaper 300,000 won/month studio apartment near Sookmyung is typically a semi-basement room that is badly ventilated with no light. To have a decent home, a student should expect to pay at least 400,000 won a month.
Sookmyungians are not alone in their housing crisis. According to ‘2018 Social Trend in Korea’ by Statistics Korea, approximately 690,000 young households (15.2%) said they experience housing problems, and about 77.6% of those households said they experience financial difficulties due to housing. Kang Seonghyeon, a student at Hanyang University, who rents a studio apartment near her school said, “I have a studio apartment, but it’s much more like a ‘Goshiwon’ study room. Considering the condition of the room, the rental price of 400,000 won/month and the 50,000 won/month maintenance cost are quite expensive. However, because it’s Seoul, I rent the room even though the financial burden is quite hard to bear at times.” To help support students struggling with financial problems, the Korea Land & Housing Corporation (LH) provides a deposit base housing for young people. However, even with the supplement, it is hard to find decent housing. Chang Yunhye, a student at the University of Seoul, currently leasing her home, said, “I spent two months looking for a decent place. There were lots of places listed on LH, but they were not good for living such as semi-basement rooms. There is a lack of good housing listed on LH. I was really lucky to find this place.” With no practical resolution in the near future, the housing problem of young people living near universities will continue each semester for years to come.
1) Yoon Jieun, "The Average of Monthly Rent for a Studio Apartment Near a University in Seoul Is 540,000 Won...the Lowest Is Near Seoul National University and the Highest Is Near Seoul National University of Education", Aju Business Daily, Jan 31, 2019