Retirement posing challenges for some boomers

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Retirement posing challenges for some boomers

Goh Hyeon-su, 55, has worked for the same map company for 30 years and has less than five years until retirement.

“When I think about quitting work, I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I am worried about life after retirement.” Goh has insurance and some savings, but not enough. “I had no money left to save for myself after raising four children and paying for all their education fees,” he said.

So Goh is busy learning skills that will help him after he retires. Recently, he got a doctorate in civil engineering. Every morning, he goes to an English-speaking hagwon, or private education institute.

Korean baby boomers like Goh, born between 1955 and 1963, have a very different attitude toward retirement than previous generations, according to a survey by the Seoul city government.

In the survey of 8,993 baby boomers living in Seoul, 85 percent said that they want to live separately from their children when they retire, because they don’t want to be a burden on them. Most of these baby boomers grew up in an extended family environment where several generations lived together under one roof.

Out of this 85 percent, 33 percent said that they want to live in a retirement facility, while 47 percent said that they want to live near their children but in a separate home.

Yun Seon-hui, 50, says that she doesn’t want to feel self conscious around her daughter-in-law or be a burden on her son, so she’s planning to live near them but under a separate roof.

“When I am older, I want to enjoy my golden years going to singing classes or sports dance classes,” she said.

The survey also reported that 55 percent of respondents said they believe parents should sacrifice themselves for their children’s education. Also, 72 percent of baby boomers said that they have some kind of insurance to prepare them for life after retirement.

At present, there are around 7.1 million baby boomers in Korea - or 15 percent of the population. Around 1.4 million of them live in Seoul.

The Seoul city government said that by 2020, when most of the baby boomers will be senior citizens, the elderly population will increase from the present 9.4 percent to 14.9 percent.


By Han Eun-hwa [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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