[CARD NEWS: Opinion] Do the elderly deserve a free ride?
적자라도 공짜로 퍼주는 ‘착한’ 대한민국. 노인 무임승차, 이제는 한계라고 합니다
Can Korea continue to let senior citizens ride the subway for free?
1) In a cabinet meeting held 37 years ago, a motion was passed which marked a milestone in history.
2) The motion let seniors ride the subway for free.
The decision was eventually to cut the ticket price in half for people older than 70.
3) Four years from then, in 1984, the free riding policy for people over 65 was implemented following the order from former President Chun Doo-hwan.
4) The decision was adopted without major resistance.
Not only was the policy the president’s command, the whole generation at that time took respect for the aged for granted. In addition, seniors accounted for only four percent of the whole population then.
5) Today, however, South Korea is an aging country.
In 2030, one in four people is expected to be over 65 years old.
6) Proportion of subway free riders in Gwangju (2015) : 33.3%
Proportion of subway free riders nationwide (2015) : 16.6%
Losses from the free rides were 493 billion won ($431 million) in 2015.
7) “Please raise the age criteria from 65 to 70.”
Subway corporations from each city have constantly asked the government to solve the long-standing deficit in subway operation.
8) In 2010, then-Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik insisted that,
“Giving away subway tickets to seniors for free is a form of excessive welfare.”
9) Some people say it is welfare populism when the subway operators let seniors ride with no charge even though the subway system cannot afford it.
10) Our country has an aging society.
Some propose that the standard for free subway tickets should be based on income, not age.
11) However, government officials cannot easily change the policy, as they are afraid of losing popularity with seniors, which could lead to losses in elections.
12) The authorities evade constant inquiries from the subway corporations under the excuse that the corporations don’t have any legal evidence, saying “Solve it on your own.”
13) The contentious situation now has almost reached a boiling point.
Eventually, a local subway corporation will file a constitutional appeal.
14) An aging society, where 13.2 percent of the population are seniors.
The senior population is expected to increase at a rapid pace.
Korea is facing a tipping point boundary. Can it continue to provide free tickets?
15) < Senior Poverty Rate >
South Korea : 48.6% Average figure for OECD countries : 12.4%
Source: OECD, 2015
Meanwhile, Koreans also cannot neglect the fact that the senior poverty rate of the country is four times as high as the average figure for OECD countries.
16) Nevertheless, reality must be changed. We should discontinue the outdated, ineffective senior welfare policy.
17) We should consider an appropriate welfare policy that works in an aging society, such as employing seniors who want to work, not a policy that attributes all responsibility to subway operators.
Directed by Lee Jeong-bong
Constructed by Kim Min-pyo
Designed by Seo Ye-ri
Translated by Son Min-young
Edited by James Constant