More people are living alone for various reasons: divorce, death, freedom, family problems and many others. One out of four households is a person living alone. Can we consider this situation abnormal? Do we not need pastoral concern for this new reality? An article in the Catholic Times visits this issue and gives the readers an idea of where we are now in society where the numbers living alone continue to grow.
Miss Kim is a computer programmer with 15 years of experience. She is able with difficulty to live alone with her income. More than half of her ten college classmates are still not married. She left home 7 years ago because her mother wanted her to marry and she had no desire to raise a family in the hell like situation of education in Korea. She borrowed some money and bought a small apartment.
Mr. Lee is 26 without a full time job; with odd jobs is trying to make money to go to graduate school. He finds it difficult to pay rent and live on the odd jobs he finds. He still needs help from his parents. Thinking of marriage is not possible.
Mr. Park divorced five years ago. He is 55 and failed in his business, in debt, fortunately his children are married and not a concern. He eats at a convenience store so no fear of malnutrition and works in a nearby sauna. He says he is comfortable living along.
Voluntary or involuntary many are in a situation where they live alone in office buildings, one-room and two room apartments. Korean society has gone from the extended family to the nuclear and now the beginnings of the living alone households. Eating alone, drinking alone, "you only live once", and TV programs which portray the lives of those living alone reflect the favorable view of this life style with many.
The increase in single person household is a world wide trend due to the change in the status of women in society, the welfare system, the new information technology and our aging society. Many older people who have lost their mate prefer to live alone than with their children who in most cases take care of the parent.
The traditional family of father, mother and children remains the main concern of the church. However, considering the single person household as abnormal is not the response of the church. The need remains to show the value of marriage and need for the sanctification of the family, and at the same time to be concerned with those who for one or other reason choose to live alone. This is a new pastoral challenge.
The fact is that those voluntarily living alone for the most part still pursue community values. They do not want to live in isolation. Many are involved in regular meetings with friends, club activities and on line networks and those with problems want to get out of that situation. Even if more people are living alone, community is still an important element of life. The need is present to implement the possibilities of community life which acknowledges the single living style.