One day, you heard one of your friends is living with her boyfriend. What do you think at first? The answer will be divided into two types. One is “they love each other, why not?” and the other is “um....really?” Cohabitation is a topic which is widely used in dramas or movies. For example, the MBC drama Ock-Tap-Bang Cat, the Korean movie You Are My Pet and so on, but in reality, it seems a little bit awkward to accept. In Korea, cohabitation without being married is considered immoral. Especially, there is nothing to speak of student couples who even cannot afford to live themselves. Nowadays, however, the rate of cohabitation of student couples is increasing.
We Love Each Other, Why Not?
A newspaper conducted a survey of university students in 2001 what they think about cohabitation before marriage. The result showed that about 72.8% of respondents said they agree with cohabitation.1 On the other hand, only 19.3% said it is unacceptable. The main reason why they go along with cohabitation is ‘love’ itself. Respondents said love is all, and questioned reversely, “why not?” It can be interpreted into a strong relationship with a partner. It means that once they fall in love, it does not matter whether they live together.
In addition, when a couple starts out living together, they can save more money than when they were living separately. Around university town, there are lots of rented rooms where give a discounts for two people in one room. The total monthly rental fee goes up, but down for individuals. That is definitely a benefit for university students, so some couples include this aspect for why they decide to cohabit. “If I can get a discount for getting a rented room, I can’t decline that contract. Also, I expect to reduce living expenses by paying jointly.” Kim Taeyeon, ’11 Department of Chemical
Engineering in Kyung Hee University, said. Respondents who think cohabitation is okay for just ‘love’ itself are considering love as the most, so the fact that they are students does not matter. Actually, there are many students couples who are living together in rented rooms around university towns. “For the first time when he suggested living together, I really hesitated. However, I followed him because we truly love each other. Also I thought once we start cohabitation, we can take care of each other every moment.” university student Kim, 22, said.2 Even from these small interviews, we can notice that how open minded youths are about cohabitation nowadays. Shortly, cohabitation became one way of expressing love. Do you think cohabitation can be admitted just for love? To answer this question, we should listen to people who oppose it.
Why It Concerns Us
Who choose the opposite gave 3 main reasons; irresponsibility on sex, social conventions, and trouble in each personal life. Above all, indiscreet sexual relation is the main side effect of cohabitation. Actually, it is reported that lots of single mothers emerge from indiscreet sex in cohabiting life. Also, a rate of abortion of university student is increasing suddenly, especially double from 2009. Shortly, cohabitation without being married is regarded as a main culprit of sexual problems.
Also, especially in Korea, social conventions about cohabitation exist. Once having experience of cohabitation, people around you start see you different from the past. One survey which is conducted by one female community site asked men, “If your girlfriend has experience of cohabitation, how do you feel?” 40% of men said they would keep dating, but never marry her.5 It shows that deciding to cohabit is easy itself, but most people do not want a partner who has cohabited with someone else. It seems such a selfish mind, but it is still in our society. “I lived with a boyfriend for 2 years during sophomore and junior year, but it was over. Although I did, whenever starting new love, I wanted my new boyfriend to never have cohabited.” Graduate student Han, 25, said.
Next, many of university students select this aspect why they oppose cohabitation. It is trouble in each private time. Once starting living together, they combine their all household goods as well as private time. They cannot have each own time without one of them is out of the house. It is connected directly that cohabitation impedes personal self-improvement time. “Whenever she was in the room, I could not concentrate on studying. We decided to not to disturb each other’s private time, but it was not easy. For finishing all the projects, I had to be in the school library.” university student, Jung, 24, said. Finally, they said cohabitation without any legal connection is dangerous, because any results of relationship like custody cannot be protected by law. It’s a main reason why student couples face irresponsible situations. Do you know how much married couples are protected by law? It is not visible, but it is enormous. From this point of view, we can notice how much the couples without being married are exposed to dangerous situations.
Why We Are Confused
As being called a ‘BLOG generation (Be a Liberal & Open Generation)’, we are so open and free to express our feeling. Our generation has grown up with innovative development of technology and lived in multicultural village. This environment was enough to make us behave different way from elders. We start out expressing ourselves actively and being free from many prejudges which have tied up our society for a long time. However, we could not be the BLOG generation entirely. Whether because the too rapid alteration of our society or not, whenever we face with a fatal situation like what cannot be accepted in our society easily, we have shown uncertain and tentative attitude. Especially cohabitation is one of problem which we are facing.
We consider our emotion and relationship among people as the most, but when it comes to express it, we become timid, just look on other’s behavior and at the end, we evaluate it. It seems awkward to call ourselves BLOG generation. However, if you recognize that present Korea society is undergoing transitional period, it is easy to understand why many phenomenon like cohabitations have not been solved yet. Shortly, our tentative attitude toward something unacceptable is natural, considering our transitional society condition. In this atmosphere, we can see and interpret other’s expression way, but do not have to evaluate and make any conclusion. Cohabitation is so proper problem to see in black and white point of view, but we would better keep looking on it carefully and questioning ourselves how we understand it.
Are You Really Certain?
Imagine this. Your lover comes up to you and asks you how about living together. Maybe, there is no one who consents immediately. If you could not naysay under his pressure, it is not cohabitating, but just a mistake. Usually, lots of university students think themselves as a person who is responsible to every moment, so they tend to overestimate their behavior. They are adults in law, but they do not need to be overconfident. After behaving easily, you start out thinking you can settle all the problems Whether or not it is a correct way, cohabitation is not your own responsibility, confidence and feeling. It is up to you and your partner. Shortly, there are more aspects you should take care. Think about this situation, you are living with your girlfriend without your parents knowing. One day, your mother calls you suddenly and says that she is almost to your house. For right now, what should you do? So, there are a heresay that in every student couple room, a big carrier is on a constant alert.
Do you think living together is the ultimate way to love? If so, your love story might end up with enormous sadness. Love itself is not what should be expressed by any language or behavior; moreover cohabitation should never be the last station. Have you ever considered that what you will lose during cohabiting is more than the value of love itself? Especially for university students.
Cohabitation is a hot potato to university students. Yet, there has been a lot of controversy over the propriety. Especially, you already have felt elders’ nag on the relationship. You should not ignore elders’ speech as just the Confucian traditions; almost every of their concerns overlap with that of ours. Our uncertain opinion for cohabitation means our tentative attitude and that means we can be placed in a difficult situation. It is connected with elders’ concern about cohabitation. As being called a ‘BLOG generation (Be a Liberal & Open Generation),’ we are so open and free to express our feeling. This cohabitation problem might be a transient phenomenon as BLOG generation has come. However, we cannot be the BLOG generation entirely, because they always say their love is beyond the world, but they feel the troubles to disclose their cohabitation. The main problem is this uncertain attitude. If you are not sure, it cannot be a best way. Ask yourself, am I really certain?