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Apartment for All: SNU's New House Sharing Project

Jun 24, 2015

SNU’s dormitory (picture above) is the students’ most favorite, but it only houses only 5,000 students
SNU’s dormitory (picture above) is the students’ most favorite, but it only houses only 5,000 students

Before the beginning of every semester, finding accommodation is often a troublesome task for many Seoul National University students. With the exception of those who already live nearby campus, getting selected to live in SNU's Gwanaksa Residence Halls would be the best scenario for most people. But in reality, there are hundreds of students who are struggling to find themselves accommodation outside of campus, especially because rental fees are on the rise. In order to make this process easier for students, SNU is promoting a new project"Apartment for All," according to which eight students to live together in one apartment for just 200,000 won (180 USD) each per month.

Organized by SNU Student Council, and partially funded by a cooperative called "KnBauiFace (큰바위얼굴)," created by SNU alumni, the"Apartment for All" project seeks to reduce housing difficulties faced by students. Each group of eight students will share an apartment of 138.6 m2, while each person pays 3,000,000 won (2,700 USD) of deposit, besides the monthly rental fee. Considering that many studio apartments or one-room units at Seoul National University Station and Naksungdae Station, where quite a number of SNU students currently live, require an average of 500,000 to 600,000 won of monthly rental fees,"Apartment for All" is a relatively cheap option.

The motivation for this house sharing project came from the investigation results concerning the quality of residential environments for university students in Seoul. According to research done by The Institute for Democracy and Policies, 36.8% of youth in Gwanak-gu were residing in a space less than 13.86 m2, the national minimum housing standard for one person, or in other very small rooms, such as rooftop houses and semi-basement rooms. Each year, SNU accepts more than 3,000 freshmen from all over the nation. Many students come from areas far away from Seoul – if they fail to get a room in the dormitory, they have no choice but to find a room elsewhere, which can get very expensive. Unfortunately, the Gwanaksa Dormitory buildings can only accommodate about 5,000 students, including graduates. As a result, SNU dorms are unable to provide residence to all students looking for a place to stay.

In addition to offering SNU students a decent option for accommodation,"Apartment for All" is an attempt to let students feel a sense of community. Residents selected will be required to discuss among themselves to come up with house rules about how to divide the rooms and arrange furniture, or who will be in charge of laundry and dish washing. Therefore, SNU Student Council will be selecting students who are eager to experience communal life to take part in the housing project. Applicants will first have to answer a survey about communal life in general, and then participate in an interview that will ask for their personal opinions about shared housing and communal life.

Because"Apartment for All" is in its testing phase, SNU Student Council will choose only eight students to start residing together on August 1. Later, 16 more students will be selected to live in two more apartments starting September 1. The current president of the Student Council, JOO Moo-yeol, expressed that he planned on expanding the project during his term."I hope to arrange at least 20 'apartments for all,' which would be able to accommodate about 200 students."

YANG Ki-chul, Chairman of KnBauiFace, explained that"Apartment for All" would begin as a pilot project at SNU. Later Mr. YANG will expand the project to other universities without dormitories or universities in the Gangbuk area, where the student residential environment is much worse, in terms of the availability of housing for students."I hope this project can financially support university students," he stressed.

This article referenced the following:

Written by YOON Jiwon, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Eli Park Sorensen, SNU Professor of Liberal Studies,