—When attempting to volunteer with a senior citizen
welfare center in Seoul, I was originally turned away due to my
age. Once persuading the center to allow me to volunteer, I
began to realize that there was a bigger issue at hand than
simply assisting the elderly. The issue of the high rate of poverty
amongst these individuals and many others across South Korea
was alarming and motivated me to investigate further into the
root cause of the issue, what is currently being done to combat it,
and what can be done further to lessen or eradicate this
problem. Nearly half of South Koreans at the of 65 or more, are
living in poverty; which is the highest among member nations of
Organization for economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD) . While almost 60 percent of their total income is
earned, 15 percent rely on the national pension, and South
Korea was ranked the second lowest among all members of the
OECD in terms of spending for the welfare of the elderly .
With the increasing senior population in South Korea and the
rising rate of poverty within that population, the government
and general public must move towards accommodating their
needs through more agencies and organizations designed to
assist them as well as a more established welfare system. Not
only this, but there must be a shift in cultural views that will
allow the financial responsibility to not be put upon families,
but rather become a part of the government’s concern for its
population, young and old.
—Elderly poverty, South Korea.
Sun Jae Lee is with the Korea International School, South Korea (e-mail:
Cite: Sun Jae Lee, " Poverty amongst the Elderly in South Korea: The
Perception, Prevalence, and Causes and Solutions," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 242-245, 2014.