In recent years, the emergence of new words such as "hon-bap" and "hon-sul", meaning eating or drinking alone,. have shown that people were growing comfortable with being by themselves instead of seeking company.
But now the rise of another word -- "il-conomy," or "solo economy" -- suggests a paradigm shift in Korean society.
Indeed, according to a 2016 survey by Statistics Korea, the number of one-person households went from slightly over 1 million back in 1990 to over 5.2 million by 2015 -- an increase of 400-percent.
Now, they have become the most prevalent form of household, representing 27.2 percent of the whole population, edging out two-person households, which take up 26.1 percent.
"The biggest reasons for the growth in one-person households.is the decline in the birth rate and longer lifespans. The most prevalent age group is people in their 30s, followed by those in their 20s, and then those over 70. "
Indeed, more companies have begun to recognize the potential of this market.
Take the spa package offered by this hotel in Seoulwhich offers modern day workers living a rare opportunity to indulge in what may seem like an act of self-gratification.
"Young workers often get vacation time on short notice, and they don't have time to go somewhere far away. They also prefer spending time by themselves. That's why we came up with this package."
The client can select the kind of treatment they want, be it a mini-facial, a body massage or a bubble bath.
"There are also significant differences in the way single people invest, and financial management companies are seeking to capitalize on that by developing specialized products for them."
For example, KB Financial Group recently started offering something called the "Ilconomy Youth Package" targeting young people who live on their own.
It offers a consolidated financial plan that addresses six major needs -- including a loan for renters seeking to live in officetels or studio apartments, and a rewards credit card that offers points for convenience store purchases. But that's not all
"People who live alone are particularly concerned with post-retirement savings and emergency funds, so we've addressed these needs as well."
Meanwhile, it appears that il-conomy is here to stay.
But what is perhaps more important is that one-person households are increasingly being accepted in Korea as both a conscious and enjoyable choice -- rather than something that happens due to external circumstances beyond the person's control.
Kim Jung-soo, Arirang News.