South Korean Woman Advocating Single, Child-Free Life Becomes YouTube Star

In her rural South Korean home, Seen Aromi practices yoga, enjoys lazy mornings, and advocates to her over 200,000 YouTube followers not to fear, feel ashamed of, or be guilty about their single status.

“Not getting married is my greatest achievement,” 37-year-old Seen told AFP, saying that she had never seen becoming a “good” wife or mother as the ultimate purpose of her life.

“They say it’s a ‘disaster’ that women are not having children in South Korea. But when I think about the potential downsides of not having children, [for me] there is nothing.”

Not just a YouTuber, Ms Aromi is also a published author. She wrote about the joy she found in opting out of society’s expectations and embracing solo living in her book I Can’t Help but Live Well on My Own, which became a surprise hit.

In her book, she detailed about having “the freedom to be as lazy as I want” and not being criticised for it.

“While some people might marry because they dislike being alone, others choose not to meet anyone simply because they enjoy lying around,” she wrote.

South Korea is currently facing world’s lowest birth rate and a rapidly ageing population and a looming demographic crisis in the country.

Experts have indicated that numerous young Koreans choose to forgo marriage and raising children, partly due to economic factors such as sluggish growth, exorbitant home prices in Seoul, and fierce competition for lucrative jobs.

Additionally, broader cultural factors are cited. South Korea retains social conservatism, disapproves of single parenthood, does not legally recognize same-sex marriage, and often sees married women leaving the workforce. Statistics reveal that married women spend 3.5 times more time daily on household chores and childcare compared to their male counterparts.

“Traditionally defined gender role expectations in the family domain as well as tension between genders are definitely related to the current low birth rate,” says Hyeyoung Woo, a sociology professor at Portland State University, in the US state of Oregon.

For Seen, relinquishing the conventional markers of success in South Korea-such as a Seoul apartment, a lucrative job, and a loving partner-has enabled her to discover true happiness.

“I’ve never worked for a big conglomerate, do not live in the city and never been married,” she says.

Ms Aromi describes her life in Seoul as miserable, marked by a grueling commute and a stressful, abusive workplace. After spending years abroad, working various jobs-from hotel housekeeping to packing meat in a chicken factory-and sharing videos about her experiences online, she returned to South Korea and settled in a rural town. She renovated an old family house that belonged to her late grandfather, and her YouTube channel, which covers topics like living alone, traveling, fitness, and yoga, gained popularity, amassing over 200,000 subscribers.

Now, a single YouTube video earns her five times more than her monthly salary in Seoul, allowing her to “live a much more autonomous life – which is extremely satisfying,” she says.

However, her social media posts about her joyful single life have also attracted criticism, with some claiming she must be lonely and others labeling her “selfish” for not getting married.

“Married people often post photos of their children and share happy images of their married life, and no one really criticises that,” Seen says.

“But when I said I was happy, [some people] strongly denied it. They seemed to think there’s no way that could be true.”

Seen says she has been in several fulfilling relationships, but her autonomy and adventurous lifestyle are her top priority, over starting a family.

The fact that her book has become a runaway success proves that you “can still be the best at something even though you live a non-mainstream life”, she says.

Most couples who have children do it because it will make them happy, not out of concern for humanity’s future – and people who live alone have also made choices aimed at happiness, which should be respected, she says.

She is proud of her contributions to the world. While others were having children, “I gave birth to two YouTube channels and a book,” she says.

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