Trends associated with individualism in South Korea

You may have heard a lot about the group mentality among Koreans which is heavily influenced by Confucianism.  However, recently, there has been a rise of individualism in the Korean society, especially among the younger generations.  There is an increasing number of people in South Korea who live alone and do a lot of activities alone, e.g., eating out, drinking, watching movies, etc.  In my blog post dated 12 March 2017, I have talked about the rise of solo economy which is associated with individualism. In this blog post, let’s talk about two more trends associated with individualism in South Korea.

Untact Marketing for Shopping

With the rise of individualism and the people being used to searching information on the internet on their own, more and more Koreans prefer to shop alone without interruption by anyone else, including the shop assistants. As a result, untact marketing techniques have been adopted by some shops to cater for this type of shoppers.  “Untact” is a combination of the prefix “un” and the word “contact” which means refusal of person-to-person interaction.

Below is some examples of untact marketing techniques used in shopping in South Korea:

  • A cosmetics shop offers two types of shopping baskets to their customers.  One type has the green sign with Korean words “혼자 볼게요” (meaning “I can do myself”) written on it, and another type has the orange sign with Korean words “도움이 필요해요” (meaning “I need help”) written on it.  The shop assistants will not talk to the customers holding baskets with green signs on their own initiative unless the customers ask them questions. This allows the customers to choose whether they want contact with the shop assistants and indicate their preferences by using the baskets with the relevant signs.
  • Another cosmetics shop uses smart table for customers to get more product information on their own by placing the product on the surface of the table, which is actually a screen displaying the relevant product information.
  • Smart mirror, which uses facial recognition technology, is used in another cosmetics shop to help customers to check if certain colours or styles of make-up suit them without actually putting the make-up on their face.

Cost-emotiveness in Dining Trend

Do you have the experience of missing the home-cooked food, e.g., when you have been living alone for a while and need to cook the food yourself or eat out alone? With the increasing number of Koreans living alone, “cost-emotiveness” has become a keyword in dining consumption. So far, the Koreans have been looking for cost-effectiveness by consuming mass-produced fast food. Recently, more and more people miss the meals cooked by the parents or grand-parents in their childhood days and are looking for cost-emotiveness by consuming home-made style food which may evoke the good memories of home-made food. For example, a Korean food company makes home-made-like Korean side-dishes by picking the fresh ingredients and delivering the food to the customers’ doors, hoping that the customers will feel loved like eating food prepared by their parents or other family members.

Do the above two trends appeal to you? Both look interesting and you may give them a try when you have a chance in South Korea.

Reminder: You can follow my blog by clicking the “Follow” button on the sidebar to receive email notifications of new posts.  For flash news on Korean culture, you can also follow me on Twitter (Kalbi8888).



Won Jung-hwan, “Cost-emotiveness, a change in the trend of dining consumption“, Arirang News, 2018-01-05

Park Hee-jun, ” ‘Untact marketing’ forecast to change consumption pattern“, Arirang News, 2018-01-02

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