The population of elderly Koreans aged 65 or above surged to more than 5 million and now accounts for more than 10 percent of the population. Only four years have passed since their number first exceeded 4 million.
According to statistics released by the National Statistical Office on Wednesday, there were 5,016,000 elderly Koreans as of July 1 2008, taking up 10.3 percent of the whole population.
An NSO official said Korea is expected to become an aged society where those aged 65 or more account for 14 percent in 2018, and a super-aged (20 percent) society in 2026. The elderly dependency ratio, which represents the senior population divided by the total working population aged 15 to 64 was 14.3 percent, which means that seven economically active people support one elderly person. By 2050, approximately 1.4 people will support one elderly person.
There are a growing number of divorces and remarriages among elderly couples. Divorce stood at 1,427 among elderly women last year, up 14.1 percent from the previous year and 5.8 times from 10 years ago. Some 3,622 elderly men got divorced, up 17.3 percent from the previous year and accounting for 2.9 percent of divorces among all men. Remarriage soared 13.8 percent for men and 19.8 percent for women, up 2.3 times and 3.7 times from 10 years ago.
The leading complaints of the elderly were health problems (43.6 percent), economic difficulties (38.4 percent), and lack of pastimes (5.3 percent). More than six out of 10 elderly people were not living with their children. Out of those aged 55 to 79, 57.1 percent wanted to be employed and as many as 41.7 percent out of those aged 65 or above wanted to work. The biggest reason was to earn a living (21.4 percent).