This is one of the many new Korean officetels being built near my apartment. When I first came to Dongtan, there wasn’t much where I lived. In fact, many of the other buildings were empty. Then Samsung announced that they were expanding and bringing 7,000 new jobs to town.
The announcement ushered in a construction boom. I had high hopes for the new places, seeing as my previous officetels were quite nice and the one we have now is amazing. However, that isn’t the case. Take another look at the photo above. Each of the units is roughly 3.3m² – a 10ft. by 10ft. box where one must sleep, eat, and relax.
I bring this up, because The Chosun Ilbo recently ran a story, noting that nearly 10% of Seoul married couples are living apart. Unfortunately the article really didn’t dive into why couples were living apart, but I suspect it has to do with job prospects around Seoul.
The metro area, not only is it the highest population center in the country, but it’s also where the best jobs are. Since congestion is high, commuting time can often be hours long. As a result, some employees opt to rent a second place where they stay throughout the work week. It’s also not uncommon for the bread-winner to work in Seoul, while the family lives 4-5 hours south.That’s why so many of the places in Dongtan are on the smaller side of things now. Families live elsewhere, where housing is cheaper, and the employee travels here only to work.
Looking at the small dwellings, which look like nothing more than a box for a bed, I think to myself, “Would I be able to live here?” I’m not sure I could. I’d want to be with my family. I completely understand the need to go where the work is and to provide for my family, what ever the cost. But choosing such a life if it was avoidable wouldn’t be something I would want to do.
What about you? Could you live in small 10×10 room?