[EDITORIALS]Economic woes deepenWith the aggravating economic situation of the nation, the afflictions of working-class people are growing. The shrunken job market and increasing debts force them to become credit defaulters and jobless. Their homes are ruined, children are sent to orphanages and they themselves become homeless. The number of the homeless, jobless and elderly who get free meals at Seoul Station is said to have increased by 50 percent over last year. Even though 300 meals are prepared for each distribution, they disappear just in a moment. A machine for steaming rice broke down because it was overloaded.
The number of people whose residence card numbers were deleted from the national database has increased as well. It increased by 70,000 in three years and now the figure is about 580,000. They are people who fled due to debts, and many of them are in their 20s and 30s. The young population, who should be working now, became homeless due to debts and are wandering in the dark.
There are even more problems. The number of houses put up for auction to repay debts has soared, and the number of people who are eligible for unemployment benefits is the highest since the 1997-98 financial crisis.
What is more serious is that it is hard to find a way out of such difficulties. The number of credit defaulters has already reached 4 million and there are millions of people who are in a state of de-facto default. Many small and medium businesses are on the verge of collapse due to stagnant domestic consumption. Economic outlook reports drawn up by research institutes are all gloomy.
If this kind of situation continues for a long time, Korean society will fall into turmoil. The homeless will lose hope and may commit crimes, disrupting society. The government should prepare measures to help the homeless out of their despair. Institutional measures such as restricting the possibility of being erased from the national residence database are necessary. All parts of society should make an effort to help the homeless.
A fundamental solution is to revive the economy. Some in the governing party, even though rather belatedly, are saying that protecting the livelihood of the people and reviving the economy are important. The party lawmakers should go to the spots where the common people suffer from economic distress. Then they will realize what the party’s priority should be.