Share House culture emerges as new solution for housing problem
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Share House culture emerges as new solution for housing problem
  • Lee Sang-ha
  • 승인 2013.05.11 19:11
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Illustration by Jeong Hyun-joo.
University students living apart from their families are burdened not only with the problems of paying high tuition, but also with finding a decent and affordable place to live in. Many students spend almost half of their living expenses on housing, only to be confined in a small space with vulnerable security. Amid the chronic housing problems, Share House has recently emerged as a new solution to such problems.
Share House is a new form of accommodation in which three to 10 people rent a house together and share community spaces such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room while having their own private room at the same time. Share House residents can interact and communicate with one another by sharing the community space which cannot be achieved in one-room apartments or goshiwon (single rooms around 5 square meters where students preparing for national exams often live). Thus, students residing in Share House can enjoy the pleasure of living with others as well as save their housing expenses.
This new concept of Share House was first introduced in Japan where single households predominate. During the past five years in Japan, the popularity of Share House has been skyrocketing in a sense that it enriches the living quality of single households through intercommunication with other people.
Similarly, Share House is gradually gaining popularity among Korean university students as well. A social housing project called WOOZOO is a representative Share House in Korea. WOOZOO implies that Share House is like a “different world” in the current society.
All of the members of WOOZOO are university students or those who just obtained occupation in society. They have gathered helping hands to solve young people’s housing problems. To provide a Share House, WOOZOO first rents old and empty houses and renovates them. Then, it subleases these houses at a low price to young people.
“The housing expenses have always been burdensome for university students,” said Cho Sung-shin, the marketing manager of WOOZOO. “Although students pay an enormous amount, their benefits are limited. Therefore, WOOZOO started off with an aim to solve these problems with a new concept of Share House.”
A total of three Share Houses are open in Korea so far, and the fourth and fifth are in the midst of opening in the area around Hongik University and Jongno-gu.
“WOOZOO wants to solve the housing problem not by simply providing cheap and decent houses but by creating a community and new housing culture,” Cho said.
Residents are also fully satisfied with their Share House.
“The benefits that I can gain from sharing a house with other people outweigh the difficulties coming from living with others,” Choi Jang-ho (Dongguk University, 3) said. “I major in Computer Science & Engineering and my two housemates are majoring in Art and Business. I am very glad that I can get to know about the fields that I did not know before as I now live with other people.”
Another example of Share House is the Borderless House which originated from Japan. The scale of the Borderless House in Tokyo is very large with 50 Share Houses containing approximately 500 residents. Witnessing the same housing problem occurring in Korea with that of Japan, the Borderless House has begun to operate in Korea as well.
“We compose one half of the residents with foreigners who would like to learn about Korean culture and the other half with Koreans hoping to have cultural exchanges with foreigners,” said Lee Seiichi, the representative of Borderless House. “Residents are provided with a spacious living room and kitchen which they share with other housemates along with their own bed and desk at a relatively low price. Under these given circumstances, we would like to create a Share House that feels like their second home.”
Foreigners in Borderless House are content as they can naturally acquire both the Korean language and its culture while living with Koreans in a well-priced house.
“Living in the Borderless House provides me with opportunities to interact not only with Koreans but also with foreigners from various countries,” said Wu Szu Hsuan, a student from Taiwan who is studying at the Ewha Language Center. “It also met my expectations of getting to know more about the Korean culture.”
Opening five houses until now, the Borderless House plans to continuously expand its operations.
“We are aiming to open 20 more houses at a speed of opening one house every month,” Lee said. “Furthermore, we are planning to host monthly events to encourage more active interactions between residents and provide foreigners with opportunities to experience the Korean culture.”

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