The focus of the ethnography of Jesook Song’s Living on Your Own is a set of thirtyish young women residing in Seoul and Pusan with whom Song conducted research in 2005–7. They were unmarried by choice for a variety of reasons, and thus identified with the new category pihon yŏsŏng, which Song translates as “women unassociated with marriage,” rather than the more conventional mihon yŏsŏng, women not yet married. They tended to be underemployed, unstably employed, or poorly paid in some combination, and thus had had little opportunity to amass personal monetary capital. Despite this, they sought, against the considerable difficulties posed by South Korean social expectations and its system of rental housing, to live independently of their families. Furthermore, Song notes that some 90 percent of her participants were former student...

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