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healthcare in South Korea
South Korea is one of the many countries in the world that provides universal health care for its citizens. This universal health care is both a source of relief and national pride for many South Koreans. This pride is further amplified by the fact that modern health care in South Korea rose out of the devastation of the Korean War. With the recent COVID-19 global pandemic, South Koreans rely, now more than ever, on their health care system.

History of the South Korean Health Care System

South Korea’s health care system was developed at the end of the Korean War in 1953. One of the first projects that aimed to help South Korea was the Minnesota Project, launched in September 1954. Under the Minnesota Project, Seoul National University agreed to receive medical education and equipment from the University of Minnesota. The U.S. Department of State also contracted the University of Minnesota to assist Seoul University with staff improvement and equipment aid.

This project allowed the health care system to grow and flourish over tte next couple of decades. In 1977, the Korean government mandated all companies with more than 500 employees to provide health insurance programs for employees.

How South Korean Health Care Works

Established in 2000, the National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC) is still in charge of national insurance enrollment, collecting contributions and setting medical fee schedules. To provide coverage for all Korean citizens, the NHIC gathers contribution payment from all citizens as part of their taxes. In addition to the contribution payment, the NHIC gather their funds through government subsidies, outside contributions and tobacco surcharges. This wide range of funding sources allows South Korea to provide clinics that are both modern and efficient.

Prevailing Issues

The South Korean health care system does have some issues, however. While the overall quality of health care in South Korea is excellent, access to high-quality medical care can still be difficult for rural residents. According to a WHO case study of South Korea, 88.8% of physicians in South Korea were employed by non-governmental clinics. These non-governmental clinics are usually located in urban areas. About 25% of all elderly over the age of 65 years reside in rural areas, where they are at high risk of falling and other physical injuries. With physicians mainly located in urban areas, the South Korean government recognizes the need to improve health care in rural areas.

A more recent issue that the South Korea health care system is facing is the treatment of foreign nationals. In the past, there were some foreigners who forewent payment after their medical treatment in South Korea. Termed “health care dine and dash,” the Korean government now requires all foreign nationals to sign up for the National Health Insurance scheme within their first six months of living in the country. Once a foreign national receives their Alien Registration Card, they can benefit from Korea’s National Health Insurance Scheme and private insurance.

A Model of Universal Health Care For the World

Developing out of the devastation of the Korean War, the excellent quality of health care in South Korea is a prime example of how a country can implement and sustain universal health care. Despite needs for improvement, the South Korean health care system remains an international model for universal health care. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, South Koreans recognize the importance of their continuous support for the universal health care system.

 – YongJin Yi 
Photo: Pixabay

 Homelessness in South Korea
It is easy to dismiss homelessness in South Korea, as the nation ranks as one of the top 20 economies in the world. High-tech society can overshadow the unfortunate reality that many of the homeless face in South Korea. In 2017, the South Korean government estimated that there were more than 11,000 homeless people in South Korea. This is not a surprise to many South Korean. When walking in Seoul for an extended amount of time, it is common to come across the homeless.

Factors that Contribute to Homelessness

  1. Housing Index: While homelessness in Seoul has dropped significantly, from 4,505 people in 2014 to 3,478 in 2018, there is still a sizable homeless population in Seoul. A variety of factors contribute to homelessness in South Korea. The rapid rise in housing prices all around the country is making owning a home more difficult for many Koreans. The housing index, a trend of average housing prices across the country, in South Korea is on a constant rise. The housing index rose from 33.60 points in 1987 to 100.20 points in 2019. This lack of affordable housing is one of the factors that contributes to homelessness in South Korea.
  2. Financial Bankruptcy: Financial bankruptcy is another leading cause of homelessness in South Korea. According to a study by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, 24 percent of the homeless lost their homes due to snowballing debts. The study stated that the average age of homeless people in South Korea is in their mid-50s.
  3. Alcoholism: For the homeless who suffer from alcoholism, receiving support can be especially difficult. Mr. Lee, a homeless in Seoul who was interviewed by South China Morning Post, testified to this issue. Since many homeless shelters have a zero-tolerance policy toward alcohol, many of the homeless elect to live on the streets. When questioned about why he left the homeless shelter, Mr. Lee said, “I used to receive support from organizations, but I stopped going to these centers because there was no freedom there.” This further reflects the prevalence of alcoholism among the homeless in South Korea.

Government Efforts to Reduce Homelessness

The South Korean government is making positive steps toward reducing homelessness in South Korea. In Seoul, the homelessness problem is still easy to spot; however, the homeless population is in a steady decline. A 2017 assessment by the Seoul government found that there had been a 30 percent decrease in the homeless population in Seoul since 2010.

South Korea’s commitment to supporting the homeless is also very public. With the election of President Moon Jae In, the Ministry of Welfare announced an expansion to assisting the homeless. The South Korean government pledged to increase the supply of housing for the homeless, creating jobs and providing job training programs for the homeless.

Currently, the city of Seoul is running an outreach program. Simin Chatdongi or “People Visiting Their Neighbors” is a program that encourages citizens to alert the authorities about their neighbors who might be on the verge of becoming homeless. Citizens who want to participate can sign up for the outreach program online or visiting a program booth at a residents’ assembly or neighborhood festival. As of Dec. 2019, the program gathered 8,563 reports.

 

Homelessness in South Korea is caused by many factors, including the housing index, financial bankruptcy and alcoholism. However, the South Korean government’s commitment to helping its less-fortunate populace leaves a silver lining to this otherwise bleak reality. Many in South Korea look forward to the positive changes that are to come for the homeless.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

South Korea AidNorth and South Korea have been separated since the end of World War II when the Soviet Union took control of the northern half of the peninsula and the United States took over the South. The two halves of Korea have been at war with each other since.

North Korea has since become a nation of poverty. The greatest threats to North Korea are its water pollution, waterborne diseases, deforestation, soil erosion and degradation. In 2017, one in five North Koreans did not have access to clean water and 41 percent of people were undernourished. Since the country’s poverty level has been increasing, North Korea has been reliant on international aid. Recently, South Korea has announced it will be sending $8 million in food aid to North Korea.

The good news about South Korea’s $8 million aid is that it expected to begin reducing tension between the opposing governments while reducing poverty levels in the North. North Korea previously chose not to accept aid from the South. The Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, is now open to receiving the aid due to the current harvest being the worst in the past decade and the current drought problem, which is currently the worst it has been in over three decades.

Expected Benefits

  • Decrease in Poverty LevelsFood aid will help the 40 percent of North Koreans that are suffering from severe food shortages. It will also provide access to clean water and reduce the number of people affected by waterborne diseases.
  • Vaccines and Medicine Will Also Be Provided – South Korea’s $8 million aid will also include $3.5 million in vaccines and medicine. This secondary aid is supplying treatments for malnutrition in children and pregnant women. It will also include other medicines for the population.
  • Tensions Between the North and South Should Improve – Despite tensions between the North and South, South Korea is still willing to give aid to the North regardless of the political situation between the two halves. This aid is letting the North know that South Korea is not willing to let those in need suffer.

Taking a Stand

Tensions between North and South Korea have been high since the end of World War II. In a press release, the South Korea Unification Ministry made it clear to the public that its tension with North Korea was not a reason to deny the country humanitarian aid. South Korea’s aid will begin to lessen those tensions. It will also provide food and medical aid to the suffering population and begin to reduce the poverty levels.

Most countries have been hesitant to send international aid to North Korea due to their involvement in missile and nuclear weapons developments. South Korea is taking a stand and using compassion to state that political issues do not affect the fact that almost half of the North Korean population is starving and in need of help.

Chelsea Wolfe
Photo: Pixabay

Countries That Escaped From PovertyEradicating poverty from a country can be a difficult and daunting task, but it is not impossible. Some countries are able to develop solutions that bring their economy and their people out of disastrous living conditions. Here is a list of five countries that escaped from poverty and created a better future for their citizens.

5 Countries that Escaped From Poverty

  1. Ghana: In 1990, this small West African nation had a GDP per capita of $1,900 with a poverty rate of 52 percent. By 2018, their GDP had reached an all-time high of $4,211.85 and their poverty rate was cut to 21 percent. Their extreme poverty rate also dropped from 35.6 percent to 18.2 percent within the same time. How were they able to do this? The country focused on educating its citizens to be a well-educated workforce. This allowed them to industrialize and put people in charge that had the knowledge and resources to succeed. Agriculture was the main area of employment back in 1990, but with a diversification of the economy, they were able to boost other sectors to create more jobs. This included the manufacturing and exportation of technological goods and mining that helped them become one of the top producers in gold in the world.
  2. Norway: Having the highest standards of living in the world is not an easy feat. The GDP per capita of Norway as of 2018 is sitting at $8,1807.20, the highest in the country’s history. But they haven’t always had this success. Norway was once one of the poorest nations in the world. During the turn of the 20th century, the Northern European nation’s economy was reliant on agriculture and fishing industries. When these began to fail, hundreds of thousands of Norwegians began to leave the country to escape from poverty for economic opportunity elsewhere. It wasn’t until after World War II that Norway’s economy began to trend upward. The United States provided aid to the country that was ravaged by the fighting and they used the aid help kick start their battered economy. Once oil was discovered off their shores in the North Sea in the 1970s, their economy flourished and they have been consistently trending upwards ever since.
  3. Singapore: The small city-state of Singapore gained its independence from Malaysia in 1965. It was a rough start for the people and their economy. The country’s GDP per capita stood at $516 and more than 70 percent of the people lived in the slums with half of the population unable to read or write. Lee Kuan Yew was prime minister at the time and he installed reforms that were very successful for the people of Singapore and their economy. He began by revamping the education system and creating a workforce that was highly skilled and well trained. To bring in foreign investment, Singapore developed an attractive tax system that is one of the lowest in Asia. This would bring in shipping and manufacturing businesses to their shores. With the influx of money and a rise in the economy, they were able to improve the infrastructure and housing of the country that gave a boost to the standard of living. The country’s escape from poverty has been a success, as Singapore’s current GDP per capita is $57,714.30 as of 2017.
  4. Bolivia: Once regarded as one of the poorest nations in South America, landlocked Bolivia is now a rapidly growing economy. The country’s poverty rate plummeted from 59 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in 2015, while at the same time extreme poverty dropped from 38 percent to 18 percent. The recent success of Bolivia can be contributed to the policies of the current leader Evo Morales installed to fight poverty. He implemented price controls over the products being sold in Bolivia such as food and gasoline so the poor could properly afford these items. While this didn’t create jobs, it did increase spending and allowed the economy to grow. Morales also created a pension of $258 to go towards those aged 60 and up to allow the elderly to escape from poverty.
  5. South Korea: After years of Japanese occupation and the end of the Korean War, South Korea’s economy was suffering in the 1950s. South Korea was not an industrialized nation and the main focus of its economy was agriculture. In 1960, South Korea’s GDP per capita was $79, which changed once General Park Chung-hee took charge of the country. Chung-hee implemented a five-year plan in 1962 that industrialized South Korea, creating jobs for the people. Companies like Hyundai, Samsung and LG would receive economic incentives, such as tax breaks, to help grow their businesses. South Korea also took advantage of U.S. economic assistance in exchange for letting the United States military keep troops in the country. Today, South Korea is a thriving economy, and as of 2017, enjoys a GDP per capita of just under $30,000. In addition, the country now accounts for $56 billion of U.S. exports, indicating a strong return on the $5.6 billion of aid invested decades ago.

Being able to rid a country from the grips of poverty involves a certain level of risk and ingenuity. Whether it’s by using the resources in their country, receiving foreign aid from other countries or changing their economic system, these countries that escaped from poverty show it is possible.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

korea sharing food
The end of World War II brought the division of North and South Korea. The fragmented region became occupied by the United States in the south and by the Soviet Union in the north. While both nations now hold sovereign status, they are still not on good terms. An area that spans the width of both countries and is roughly two and a half miles long separates the north from the south today. This zone, called the demilitarized zone (DMZ), is rarely crossed to travel from one country to another. That has changed recently, though.

Potential for Change

On Wednesday, the South Korean government announced that they will give North Korea 50,000 tons of rice to offset rising malnutrition rates in the region. South Korea sharing food with its neighbor marks the first humanitarian venture across the DMZ to provide food aid in North Korea.

Historically, North Korea has faced numerous issues providing the proper nourishment to their population. Here are a few quick facts on North Korean malnourishment:

The Bleak Facts

  1. Roughly half of North Korea’s population of 24 million live in extreme poverty. North Korea holds the lowest spot on world personal freedom rankings. Poverty, coupled with a lack of freedom, has led to very poor living conditions for its citizens.
  2. One-third of children in North Korea have stunted growth because of malnourishment.
  3. The Global Hunger Index ranked North Korea tenth from last, stating the hunger levels seen in this country are a serious health threat. One-third of children are thought to have their growth permanently stunted due to malnourishment. The lack of food not only affects children, it has also dropped life expectancies by five years.
  4. North Korea has lost hundreds of thousands of people to malnourishment due to historical famines. The largest, which occurred in the 1990s, had a disputed death toll that varied widely from 800,000 people to 3.5 million. This famine, although it killed several hundred thousand, if not millions, has never been acknowledged by the North Korean government.
  5. Currently, the country is facing the worst drought in a decade, which led to a 1.36 million ton shortage of grain. This shortage forced the North Korean government to reduce rations to only 11 ounces per person daily. If nothing is done to counterbalance the food shortage caused by this drought, up to 40 percent of the population is at risk of needing food aid in the next few months.

A New Precedent

These facts paint a bleak picture of life in North Korea, yet South Korea is trying to offset this growing problem by offering food aid. South Korea sharing food is an act of good faith aimed at improving relations between the two countries. The possibility of South Korea sharing food in the future with its estranged neighbor depends on North Korea ending its nuclear weapons program and improving ties between the two countries.

An act of humanitarian aid between two divided countries gives hope that someday food, not fences, will be shared between the two countries and that the world will see a unified Korea sharing food.

-Kathryn Moffet
Photo: Flickr

water quality in south koreaOver the past several decades, water quality in South Korea has remained poor due to poorly-operated water management services and sewage systems. It was not until the 1970s that the Korean government made headway in improving its water services, with help from the World Bank and other nations.

Perceptions Today

According to The Korea Herald, in 2013, the Environmental Ministry conducted a survey of 12,000 South Koreans, and only 10 percent responded that they drank tap water, whether boiled or not. Meanwhile, 55 percent said they only drank tap water after boiling it.

This is despite experts’ opinions that Korean tap water is some of the best in the world. A 2003 United Nations report ranked water quality in South Korea as the eighth highest in the world, ahead of that in the United States (twelfth highest). Incidentally, in 2013, 82 percent of Americans surveyed indicated that they drank tap water.

Why the Disconnect?

Koreans, at least as of 2013, seem to be living in the past on this issue. According to The Korea Herald, 30 percent of those surveyed cited concerns about old water tanks and pipes for their wariness toward tap water, and 28 percent were worried about reservoir sanitation.

Indeed, those were once major issues. The World Bank reports that, in Korea, in “the late 1980s, accelerated urbanization took its toll, and surface and underground water bodies became polluted.”

Then, in the 1990s, the chemical phenol was leaked into the water supply, which caused severe illness to those who drank it. Meanwhile, several reported cases of ‘red water’ increased awareness of aging, rusting underground pipes.

But today, the same concerns are nonissues. Korea’s water and wastewater service are very nearly universal. The Korean government continually monitors tap water quality against a minimum of 59 criteria, including pH levels. Old public pipes have been replaced with new, rust-proof ones, and city governments have offered subsidies for people who want to replace pipes in their private residences.

The water is clean, say the experts. Pain can leave muscle memory, but in time even that fades. If Koreans continue to come together to demand only the highest standards from those they charge with regulating their water systems, they should have nothing to worry about when it comes to drinking tap water.

Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Flickr

Hagwons in South Korea

In an interview with BBC News, 16-year-old Hye-Min Park explains that her studious efforts are all in the name of achieving her dreams of becoming an elementary school teacher. Attending hagwons in South Korea is a part of that journey.

A day in the life of a South Korean Student

Park leaves her home for school at 7:30 a.m. which she attends until 4:00 p.m. She returns home for a quick bite, leaving again for private lessons at her hagwon from 6:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

After her hagwon lessons conclude, she heads back to school for a study session until 11 p.m. Once she gets home, she continues studying until 2 a.m. Her alarm is set for 6:30 a.m. to wake up later that morning to do it all over again.

Despite seeming like a long and intensive day, Park explains that she is able to forget her hardships when she sees her efforts pay off in the form of good marks at school.

What is a hagwon?

Hagwons are for-profit private institutions throughout South Korea that students often attend in substitution of public kindergarten or preschool, as an after-school program and sometimes both.

Some have nick-named these institutions “crammers” as hagwons in South Korea typically teach a fast-paced curriculum in various subjects including English grammar, mathematics, fine arts and music.

Nearly 100,000 hagwons can be found throughout the country, and 95 percent of students have taken lessons from these institutions by the time they graduate high school.

The Cost

South Korean parents spent over $15 billion, or 18 trillion Korean Won, on private education annually. That’s more than triple the average Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country’s expenditure on private education, and more than anywhere else in the world.

The hagwon structure may be evolving the educational system, acting as a market in which supply and demand rule all.

Three-quarters of Korean students prefer their hagwon lessons to their day school classes. Sohn Kwang Kyun, a math teacher at Sky Education (a top-grossing hagwon), thinks this is because hagwons are consumer-oriented. Hagwon lessons match students’ abilities with the appropriate lessons and pace.

Choi Jung Yoon is also a teacher at Sky Ed. Yoon believes that the preference towards hagwons is also because they are elective; because students elect to take them, they are more engaged.

But how optional are they? The importance of gaining admission into top universities fuels the demand for supplementary lessons from private institutions like hagwons. Further, increasing competition may necessitate hagwon attendance.

The price of hagwons may come at another cost: a loss of interest and motivation in the formal education system and increased stress.

Self-harm was the number one cause of premature death in 2016. Self-harm claims approximately 900 lives annually and continues to be the second leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults under 30. Depression and anxiety disorders rank fourth and ninth, respectively, for health problems causing the most disability.

Hagwons in South Korea is designed to enhance students’ cognitive abilities and contribute to South Korea‘s admirable reputation of educational devotion. However, the added responsibility may also add pressure on Korean students and compromise their mental health.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr

Health of North Korean Refugees

When defectors from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea risk their lives to leave the country, they are running not only from a dictatorial regime, but also from famine and sickness. The physical and mental health of North Korean refugees is much worse than that of their South Korean counterparts. But, upon reaching South Korea, North Korean defectors discover healthcare and resources that transform their well-being.

Nearly 30,000 North Korean refugees have managed to enter South Korea. These individuals suffer from both physical and mental illness. Depression and PTSD are prevalent issues experienced by North Korean refugees, who have spent their lives in a stressful environment of oppression.

Despite the fact that North Korea offers a universal socialist healthcare system, economic strife renders that system ineffective. Much of North Korea’s medical equipment is outdated, and many doctors sell medicine on the black market in order to pay for food. A recent study showed that approximately 40% of North Korean refugees who needed care while in North Korea were unable to receive it.

In South Korea, with access to reliable healthcare, the health of North Korean refugees is finally managed properly. On average, North Korean defectors visit the doctor twice a month.

The most common disorder suffered by North Korean refugees is malnutrition and stunted growth. Unlike the rest of the world, including South Korea, North Korea’s malnourished citizens have not experienced an increase in height over the past few decades. Even when exposed to the boundless diet available in South Korea, North Korean refugees continue to exhibit smaller statures than South Koreans, due to long-term damage caused by malnutrition.

Malnutrition has the most severe consequences for children. North Korean children exhibit stunted growth and anemia resulting from malnutrition. According to the World Health Organization, 25 out of 1,000 children in North Korea die before the age of five, as opposed to only three out of 1,000 in South Korea.

Concerned for North Korea’s suffering children, South Korea recently approved $8 million of aid, which will be divided between the U.N. World Food Programme and UNICEF to target illnesses in North Korean infants and mothers. Despite the benefits South Korea’s aid is expected to provide, any form of aid to North Korea is veiled in controversy because of its recent nuclear tests.

In 1952, South Korea became a recipient of U.S. aid. Following the Korean War, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. U.S. aid provided food and consumer goods, and within decades, South Korea became an aid donor. Today, such aid is desperately needed to supplement the lives of individuals living in North Korea.

Aid allowed South Korea to make an outstanding economic recovery and avoid the destitute fate of North Korea. South Korea has even become one of the foremost leaders in global health, which allows them to effectively improve the health of North Korean refugees who have relocated to the south.

Mary Efird

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in South Korea
While in many poor countries poverty disproportionately affects the young, the opposite is true for South Korea. After the Korean war of the 1950s, South Korea saw a period of extreme poverty, followed by a fifty-year rise to economic power. And while this rise was good news for most of the country, it also meant that the bulk of all poverty in South Korea was pushed onto its elderly population, with nearly half of all citizens over the age of 65 living in poverty.

One reason for this has been what many people have called South Korea’s cut-throat nature. Known for its ruthless competition over test scores and prestigious jobs, South Korea’s population has accumulated wealth at such a fast pace that social mores have struggled to keep up with the pace of change. In much of Asia, it has long been a tradition to honor and care for elderly relatives as part of a Confucian social contract. However, as the country’s young population has migrated to cities, away from the family unit, expectations have drastically changed. In just the past fifteen years, the percentage of young South Koreans who believe they should care for their parents has plummeted from 90 percent to 37 percent.

In the absence of this social expectation, there exists little to no government program to take its place. South Korea was ranked second-to-last in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in terms of spending on welfare for the elderly. Only a third of the elderly population receives a pension, and the pension itself makes for a threadbare living at best. Many people do not even attempt to receive the government pension out of embarrassment, since, to be eligible, an applicant has to prove that his or her children are unwilling or incapable of providing support.

Elderly and Poverty in South Korea

In 2012, South Korea enacted an ill-conceived way to improve the situation, called the “National Happiness Pension,” which only slightly raised pensions, and only for the poorest 70 percent of seniors. Addressing elderly poverty is, sadly, still not a first priority for the South Korean government, which has widespread unemployment and a tumultuous relationship with North Korea to contend with.

Since 2012, however, young South Koreans have begun to recognize the need for action. The Korea Legacy Committee, begun by Mike Kim, an entrepreneur in Seoul and the director of Asia-Pacific partnerships at Google, is dedicated to addressing this issue. Consisting of Kim and eight other Korean entrepreneurs, all working in different fields, the Korea Legacy Committee is tasked with solving this crisis of poverty, first and foremost by raising awareness of the issue. Since 2015, the KLC has held monthly events for their volunteers to interact with elderly pensioners from the Seoul Senior Welfare Center, and quarterly fundraisers, the money from which goes to the senior center’s meal program. So far, the organization has raised more than $20,000.

While South Korea’s elderly population still suffers from poverty and neglect, the rest of the population is slowly coming to terms with the depth of this issue and is finding ways to help. This will be the first step in solving this crisis. Though the end to poverty in South Korea is within sight, there is still a long way to go.

Audrey Palzkill

Poverty Rate in South KoreaThe poverty rate in South Korea not only decreased in the past few decades, but it now also continues to decline. When examining the poverty rate in the country, however, there seems to be one apparent issue: the poverty rate among people who are 34 years old or younger and people who are 65 years old and older have both increased.

Comparing the two, the poverty rate among people aged over 65 is significantly higher than people below the age of 34 — 64 percent compared to 12 — and therefore a greater cause for concern for the country.

These numbers directly contrast the overall movement of the poverty rate in South Korea. Among people aged from 35 to 50 years old, the poverty rate hovers around six percent and the rate among 50 to 65 years old stays at approximately 12 percent. Seeing as the poverty rate in South Korea tends to dramatically vary based on age range, it begs the question as to what is causing such wealth disparity between the different age groups in South Korea.

The answer to such a question can primarily be attributed to two main factors: increased competition in the work force and age discrimination among employers.

As the population of South Korea continues to grow, so too does the competition for jobs. Many young South Koreans seek employment opportunities in a competitive marketplace that only becomes more competitive over time.

In combination with the slowing of the world economy, this can have devastating effects on the young as the rate of competition for jobs slowly continues to increase while the number of jobs available paradoxically decreases. This explains the youth unemployment rate in South Korea, which rose to approximately eight percent at the end of 2016.

Another major issue is the inability for people aged 65 and older to generate income. This occurs because many elderly citizens are forced out of the workplace and then do not receive enough government subsidies to survive. It is typical for companies to force employees who are in their mid-fifties into retirement with the interest of bringing in younger, “fresher” workers.

To further exacerbate this issue, the public pension system in South Korea was only established in 1988 and leaves many people who retired in the mid-2000s with little to no retirement. It is the combination of these two issues that has been significantly contributing to the increasing poverty rate in South Korea.

In order to lower the poverty rate, it may become essential that South Korea prioritizes making its public pension system more efficient so as to provide more people with funds after retirement. Without such correction, it may become impossible for elderly people in South Korea to sustain a healthy lifestyle once consistent sources of income cease.

Garrett Keyes

Photo: Flickr