One-third of Koreans feel socially isolated: Statistics Korea

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One-third of Koreans feel socially isolated: Statistics Korea

One in three Korean citizens suffer from social isolation and loneliness, according to a report by Statistics Korea Friday.
 
The Covid-19 pandemic has kept many at home, without much social interaction, leaving them without a person to look for when they need support, mental or otherwise.
 
Ms. Choi, 38, says she feels lonely especially after she finishes her work. She has not dated anyone in the past few years. She doesn’t participate in any similar-interest groups for fear of the coronavirus. Even before the pandemic, conversations with her colleagues were strictly work-related.
 
“I did think about attending some sort of gathering, but the pandemic stopped me,” Choi said. “Also, it's not that easy for me to make new friends.”
 
Statistics Korea in its biannual survey on the topic said 34.1 percent of Korean citizens have difficulties finding mental support, up 6.4 percentage points from 2019. The pandemic, and the rise in the elderly population and single-person households, have contributed to the country seeing the largest percentage ever for the statistic since the institute started the research in 2009.
 
About 27.2 percent of Korean citizens responded that they don’t have anyone to whom they could ask for help with their chores when they are sick, and 20.4 percent said they don’t have anyone to talk to when they feel depressed.
 
The elderly feel more isolated — about 37.1 percent in their 50s and 41.6 percent in their 60s answered that they feel left alone. This is compared to 26.7 percent in their 20s, 27.9 percent in their 30s, and 31 percent in their 40s.
 
Those who answered that they participate in group activities were at 35.8 percent, down 30.3 percentage points from two years ago. About 66 percent of those in their 30s said they do not part in any social groups.
 
“How happy or depressed one feels all depends on how much social interactions one has,” said associate professor Kim Ju-yeon of the University of Seoul’s department of urban sociology. “Support from [the government] is necessary to solve the rising problems in regards to social isolation and the growing elderly population.”

BY JEONG JIN-HO [kjdnational@joongang.co.kr]
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