Korea's employment, welfare and pension systems are currently designed on the premise that people will retire between the ages of 60 and 65. But as life spans increase, more and more people are delaying retirement or trying to find other jobs. According to a Gallup poll of 513 people over 30 for the Chosun Ilbo last month, two out of five respondents or 40.6 percent want to work into their 70s, and one out of seven or 14.9 percent want to work into their 80s.
More than half or 56.2 percent said the average retirement age of 65 is too young. Some 36.1 percent think 65 to 69 is appropriate, while 12.2 percent said 71 to 75 and 2.6 percent 76 to 79. Some even picked 80 or above (2.1 percent), while others recommended scrapping the retirement age altogether (3.2 percent).
Work is considered one of the main factors determining happiness among elderly people. The Chosun Ilbo polled 422 senior citizens at a welfare center and found that 246 of them who make between W50,000 to W200,000 (US$1=W1,119) a month are twice as satisfied with their lives than those who do not. And one out of three elderly people who work (35 percent) said they are very satisfied with their lives, while only one out of six (17 percent) of those who do not work gave that response.
Among those who work, some 87 percent said that they want to continue work even if they have enough money to lead their life. They cited as the biggest reason the fact that it keeps them physically fit (61 percent), followed by enjoying work itself (31 percent), providing chances to socialize (18 percent) and spending their time better (11 percent).