Golden Agers want a little more time to shine

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Golden Agers want a little more time to shine

When does a senior citizen become a senior citizen?

According to the Korea Golden Age Forum, it shouldn’t be 65 anymore.

On Monday, the forum submitted a proposal to the Blue House, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs and the Labor Ministry saying that the age standard needs to be adjusted.

“The senior citizen standard of 65 years of age or older was set back in 1950, at a time when people of that age had waned physically and needed help from others.

“But at present, people who are 65 years old are much healthier,” said Kim Il-soon, an honorary professor at Yonsei University and head of the Korea Golden Age Forum, which was created last October.

Kim said that many Koreans who are 65 or older now lead “resigned” lives, unable to do anything outside their homes because society considers them elderly.

The senior citizens’ group pointed out that the government will not be able to support welfare fees for senior citizens if the standard remains unchanged.

During the 1950s, only 2 percent of the population was over 65 years old; now, the rate is around 11 percent. By 2050, almost 38.5 percent of Korea’s population will be over 65.

Although in Korea there is no “official” senior citizen age set by the government, most of its key welfare policies base the age criteria at 65. These policies, including basic senior citizens’ pension, cost the government 2.7 trillion won ($2.38 billion) annually, in addition to senior citizens’ long-term home insurance costs of 1.3 trillion won.

In its proposal, the group wrote, “If the age limit is adjusted to 70 years old, around 1.8 million people will be exempt from these [government welfare] benefits.”

Not every retired citizen agrees. Lee Sim, head of Korea’s biggest senior citizens’ group, the Korean Senior Citizens Association, said, “The 65-year-old standard was designated by the United Nations during the 1950s and is an international standard.”

The government also has doubts about raising the age standard.

“There are no instances globally in which the senior citizen age standard has been raised to older than 65,” said Kim Won-jong, an official at the senior citizens policy division at the Health Ministry.

By Shin Sung-sik []
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