Are You Really ALONE?
Are You Really ALONE?
  • Park Lee Dahye
  • 승인 2010.11.05 17:50
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One day, what would you do if you were left at home alone with no one?  In the movie, Home Alone (1990), it showed an interesting story when a little boy, Kevin Conway, was left at home without his family during the Christmas season.  Now, however, it is different.  Today, more and more people are likely to be alone themselves, unlike Kevin, and they want their own world by doing something alone, without others.  Although they look lonely, why do they want to call themselves *Cocoon or Outsider?

Only a few years ago, it looked miserable to see someone eating alone in a cafeteria or watching a movie alone.  But suddenly people hanging out alone are becoming more common, bravely calling themselves outsiders.  It is possible to readily find people who mainly enjoy drinking coffee or reading books, sitting in cafes and tapping their laptops.  However no one doubts what they are or sees what they do.  That’s because it is not awkward for students these days to study, shop, watch movies, and eat on their own.  A recent survey of 528 undergraduates by Incruit, the online job site, said that 34.5 percent of them responded they are ‘outsiders.’ This means today the number of university students in Korea who regard themselves as ‘outsiders,’ are increasing.  Such people enjoying lonely life is so called the ‘Myself Generation (Generation M).’






A Room of One s Own in Modern

In the past, Koreans would be likely to move around in groups.  It is very uncomfortable to express the individual’s personality in front of them.  This is why it even depends on individual future.  Therefore Generation M leads to definitely positive flows that help to establish one’s subjecthood, respect one’s indepencence, and need to their own time, based on reflection about the social atmosphere.1  Unlike *hikikomori in Japan, a loner suffering from social anxiety problems, Generation M indicates those who get self-satisfaction and happiness by putting stress on comfort given from their own space and who charge their energy through the time.  Nowadays, its concept is broadening more and more from the thing that means only being alone to the thing that means a kind of lifestyle of enjoying it.  “The alone or Generation M are more suitable for them than ‘Gloomy Generation’in that they seriously love themselves, respect their tastes, and enjoy their time and space in a diversifying world,” said Kim Ran do, professor of Consumer Behaviors at Seoul National University (SNU).”  Then, why do they enjoy being alone?  “Although, in the past people needed to share resources with their families, today is different.  Many people have enough money to be alone, which rapidly causes the self-reliance to swell on the spread of individualism,” Park Kyung-sook, a sociology professor at SNU explained.  With the individualism, each person faces a great deal of tough competition which causes stress.  That’s why people want to keep their space and time without any intervention in the society.  For this reason, there is a need of stand-alone places in addition to cafes, especially coffee shops, restaurants, and cafeterias.  However, it seems hard to make their room in the complicated world because they always meet others in different situations.  Nevertheless, people seem to succeed in the work if they put ear-phones in their ears or if they focus on their IT devices or digital devices like laptop computers, smart phones, PMPs, and MP3 players.  Lee A-young, a junior of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, “I always have the earphones because I can more concentrate on what I do without any interference and I can feel comfortable when I take subway, bus or walk alone especially.”  Actually, these items seem to be necessities to modern people.  In other words, they are always ready to make their room, against other people and society.  But, this is not considered as a selfish thing, rather a cool thing that enjoys their life now.

The Winner Stands Alone




Recently, the increasing Generation M shows the dignified outsiders at university.  A few years ago, the word meant a lonely student who didn’t get along with fellows at school and was very timid.  However, no longer does ‘outsider’ mean a negative thing, but a positive thing that indicates competent students who pay more attention to strength competition.  These days, they tend to decide for themselves more to be alone in university life than to feel a sense of belonging inside their department because they develop the power of their own SPEC (specification).  “The basic code of university is cool individualism.  Students don’t want to touch other’s privacy nor be intervened with others.  So, their campus life has been designed to maximize their taste and interest,” said Kim Ho-ki, a sociology professor at Yonsei University.2  In a survey of 2415 university students conducted by Albacheonguk, part-time job portal site, 39 percent of them responded that the reason they were alone was because they could move, depending on their own schedule.  Nineteen percent said they were used to being alone and seventeen percent said it was different to fit others.3 Thus, many students who are the alone try to efficiently spend their time on themselves for their goals and wishes.  Even it is said that two out of three think it is good for them.4  One of them said, “The reason they are continuously rising is that personal fulfillment and success is more important than before.” Jang hyo-im (23) said, “When I was freshman, I would get along with my fellows.  But after becoming a senior, I couldn’t help but be concerned about my uncertain future and I had to move alone.”  In other words, being alone is a necessary condition for achieving their goals because of social structure.  Namely, most students choose the way obliged to be alone, not to enjoy self-happiness.  Many students in Korea have no choice but to take a break from school and be alone due to the anxiety of not being able to succeed.  The amount of students that stay out of school temporarily has gradually increased, from 500,000 in 2000 to 600,000 in 2005.5 In this way, they concentrate on embodying their SPEC.  During the time, of course, it is very helpful for them to spend their time efficiently, but the time could only be subordinated to their goal.  This results from a potentially dangerous problem.  “If some don’t deal with being alone at the time, it could be connected to indifference toward relationships and communication with other people,” said Bae Kwang-ho, a researcher of IBG education center.  Jeong Ji-soo (Yonsei student, 24) said, “I know the merit of being the alone, but it has a serious problem that weakens adaptability of personal relationsips and sociality.  Although it is very hard to mediate between others, I could learn more through this process.”  Namely, there is an absence of communication with others.  What the alone care about is what they do, not what people do.  Indeed, will they be the winners because they are alone?

Alone with the Alone



In modern times, Generation M looks smart, brave, and cool.  However, human beings are social creatures, as Arisotle said.  It is not too much to say that human beings exist by themselves with the human to human relationship balance.  Thus, to stand on their own feet from society, people have to succeed in psychological independence as well as physical or financial independence.  However, a lot of people delude themselves that they are free if they are alone in their own room.  Commonly, going to a café by oneself is considered as a property of Generation M.  Then, what are they doing in the cafe?  Surprisingly, most of them try to share a conversation with others by logging in to a messenger or sending text messages, and they still stay alone in the cafe.  They could say, “I love doing things by myself,” but they upload their photos while traveling alone on their blog and share them with other people.  Indeed, is it possible to call that alone?  Seong Young-sin, a professor of psychology at Korea University, makes the point: “I can’t believe that most Koreans are the alone because they are sensitive to other people who are here where there is well-defined organic structure, attaching importance to WE not ME.”  Here, can we call people, always trying to network by Internet, the real loners?  Maybe, do they pretend to be just COOL?6  “Today, younger employees have a good skill of presentation and language ability.  Of course, outstanding business work in society is crucial, but the most significant thing they are required to have is communication and social ability, which means if they have the same ability, it could be the ultimate measure of how they harmoniously work with others.  Therefore, I strongly recommend that people have to develop their skill and get experience growing social ability.”  Park Jong-kuk, an executive of PR department of Hanhaw group, said.  Society people live in is linked to the string of the ‘relationship.’ The true ability brings out their real ability when people work with other people.  It is possible that those who reflect their inside and deal with it are able to communicate well with other people.  The important thing is not to fit oneself in society that requires SPEC, but to make a constant effort for self-improvement.  Therefore, those who consider everything around them and think it when they are alone would be the true alone.


1 Lee ji-min「, It is not different between inside and out」, Herald Media, 2007.08.21


* People who refuse to leave their house and isolate themselves from society


2 Lim Soo-jeong「, 〈2010 Campus〉①Outsider」, Yonhapnews, 2010.03.24


3 Min Ji-hee「, One out of two students, ‘cocoon’」, Datanews, 2008.06.20 


4 Rye Ji yeon Reporter「, What is Being Alone?」, Herald Media, 2010.04.04


5 Kang So-yeong「, Student Corner: Leave of Absence for Korean Students」, The Korea Times, 2010.03.09


6 Seong Young-sing「, Are You Myself Generation too?」, Weekly Kyunghang, 2007.09.18









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