|▲ A customer is enjoying the service of a one-person beauty shop|
The percentage of single households in Korea has been skyrocketing since 2008, and in 2012 it became 25.3% of the whole population of Korea, which is over a quarter. Starting from the singles population, the new trend Alone with Lounging became popular and other people are also enjoying the new trend. According to the book written by Professor Kim Nan-do, 2013 Trend Korea, the definition of Alone with Lounging is adding the letters “ing” to “lounge,” which means the place where people can meet other people and take a rest. According to the terminology Alone with Lounging, you can see that people start to enjoy the lounge all by themselves. Through the Internet and mobile devices the span of human relations are wide but the people who feel the sense of emptiness try to handle their loneliness actively by Alone with lounging.
Alone with lounging is a trend that has developed by the desire of finding identity through rest and entertainment. Especially the post baby-boomer generation, unlike the older generation who are familiar with community culture, tends to invest on consolation and put emphasis on that value. Alone with Lounging operates on a vague concept of remarkable changes in various fields of the economy and you can see the changes by the word “solo economy” that this trend has brought about. A solo economy means that as single population starts to grow, companies develop and release the products and services that target the single population.
There are representative services of Alone with Lounging, one-person karaoke, one-person beauty shop and one-person restaurants. The most important one-person karaoke, “Soo Karaoke” consists of sixteen single rooms, and is far cheaper than existing karaoke. It costs 1,000 won an hour in the morning and 5,000 in the afternoon. Also the facilities are much better than that of existing ones. The qualities of microphones in each room are very high, just like professional microphones which singers use while recording. Also there are mixing machines that people can use while they sing in the karaoke room and if they bring a USB, they can play the songs they bring and even save the songs they sing in the room. According to the manager of “Soo karaoke” in Hongdae, probably the most famous one-person karaoke, their customers are mainly teenagers, people who are in their 20s, and even people in their 30s. On average 100 to 150 people visit this place daily to use. The average waiting time is two hours even on weekdays. One visitor of the one-person karaoke said that she was aware of the one-person karaoke by watching the program “Discovery of trends.” The reason why she prefers the one-person karaoke than pre-existing karaoke is the inexpensive price and she can sing the songs freely unlike times when she visits karaoke with her friends. She added that if she goes to karaokes with her friends, she cannot sing the songs as often as she would like to because of her friends, but in the one-person karaoke, she can sing one song until she is satisfied with herself.
The next service of Alone with lounging is the one-person beauty salon. To use this one-person beauty shop, the customer should make a reservation before they visit the beauty shop. Unlike existing beauty shops where customers can kill time by reading magazines or take a short nap during the time they do their hair, in a one-person beauty shop, customers can do several things like playing darts, guitar or handling cats in the beauty shop. The Post visited one of the most famous one-person beauty shops in Hongdae, “Bbing.” The owner of the beauty shop said that the reason why he started the one-person beauty shop is that he can customize the services for his customers. The main customers of the one-person beauty shop are mainly in their late 20s and 30s office workers who lack time and want to have customized services. In one day, there are five to six customers since the owner of the beauty shop does all of the services by himself. A customer in the one-person beauty shop said that the reason why she comes to the beauty shop is because she can get the services she wants, like hanging out with cats, while she does her hair and she does not have to worry about what other people think. Also since she loves to have massages, and the owner of the one-person beauty shop always gives her a thermal massage when she visits.
Lastly, another Alone with lounging service is the one-person restaurant. The number of restaurants which offers one-person dining is emerging. Not only do they offer simple dining food like ramen or noodles in the box but also dishes which were not normally eaten alone, such as shabu-shabu which is offered for the single-sumer.(single+consumer) To find out more about the Alone with Lounging trend, the Post visited the one-person restaurant “Ichimen” in Sinchon. When a customer goes inside the one-person restaurant, he or she can see a machine for ordering their dish. After ordering their dish, customers can sit on the seats for single people which are blocked off by a partition and push the bell button to choose the flavor of their ramen. Since all of the seats are blocked off, the customers do not have to care about what others think, who are also dining alone beside them, and can enjoy the meal in its entirety. In the case of this Post reporter, who is very slow when eating meals, not caring about other people’s pace of eating while dining was very pleasant and I was fully satisfied with their service.
There are several changes that Alone with lounging is expected to bring about. Since community culture is overflowing in Korean society, people think it is a weird thing to eat alone or to go to a karaoke room alone and sing. However, with the booming trend of Alone with Lounging, people are expected to understand the single-sumers who prefer to enjoy the services alone. According to an interview with a university student of Dongguk, she said that she did not understand why people would want to dine alone or go to see a movie alone. One day she watched the program, “Discovery of trends” and she was so attracted by the new services that the TV program suggested. “I was very impressed by the services while watching “Discovery of trends.” After watching the program, when I had free time, I went straight to the one-person karaoke and sang the songs that I liked to sing. This new trend of Alone with lounging is great. I would like to try a one-person restaurant when I have the time.”
Also, the solo-economy is expected to develop. For the single-sumers, there are various products which are packed in small portions. For instance, Pulmuwon offers “fresh tofu,” which consists of four packs of tofu and are packed individually. Since it is hard for the single-sumers to finish up the whole tofu at once, it is remarkable product for them. Samlip also offers six loaves of bread for the single-sumers. Another development of the business field is the companion animal business. Since single-sumers mostly live alone, they tend to feel lonely and ache with longing, and companion animals can unburden this loneliness of singles. This tendency is shown by developing the companion animal market. In spite of the recession in the overall economy, the companion animal market has grown to four trillion this year and is expected to heat up.
In conclusion, the Alone with Lounging trend is skyrocketing. This developing trend offers various services for the emerging single-sumers, such as dining alone, singing freely in single karaoke room, enjoying customized hair services. This Alone with lounging is growing and expected to permeate as other businesses are filed. Why don’t we all enjoy Alone with Lounging?
Lim Su-mi firstname.lastname@example.org
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