The twilight years

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The twilight years

Korea is rapidly becoming an aged society. As of July 1, citizens aged 65 or over account for more than 10 percent of the entire population, the National Statistical Office said.

According to the United Nations, a country is considered an aging society if the senior population makes up more than 7 percent of the whole. If seniors make up 14 percent or over, it is an aged society.

By this definition, Korea became an aging society in 2000 and is in the process of becoming an aged society.

The main problem arising from this phenomenon is how to provide economic support for the older generation. According to the NSO, each senior is now supported by seven working-age adults. However, based on current trends, by 2030, one senior will only be supported by 2.7 people.

This means that the generation being born now will have to spend one-third of their income in supporting seniors when they become adults.

The issues need to be dealt with systematically. The government needs to improve the social safety net and ensure that seniors have a basic level of living and a pension.

Creating jobs for seniors is also important. Over 41 percent of Koreans aged between 65 and 79 want jobs. Unemployment among seniors is a serious issue.

The career information system needs to be overhauled to help seniors find jobs easily. A peak wage system should be adopted more widely so that the retirement age can be extended. Companies need to be encouraged to re-employ retirees.

Insurance schemes for senior citizens should also be enhanced. Insurance plans for seniors were introduced in July but supply is scarce relative to demand.

Even if it takes more financial resources, the government needs to build more state-run facilities for seniors and increase the number of care workers to help them live a healthy life.

The public health insurance system also needs to be improved. The government should consider introducing additional schemes like Japan, which adopted an insurance system whereby seniors can receive medical services equivalent to how much they contributed to the insurance system.
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