There has been an increase in elderly parents suing for monetary support from their children, often when the children refuse to help with living and medical expenses.
In 2002 there were only 68 such cases, but last year the number almost tripled to 203. A court official said, "As the number of senior citizens increases, we are seeing a rise in the number of cases where they sue for financial assistance from their children."
In one such case, a 73-year old man is seeking support from his children in order to pay his medical bills. The man, who suffers from high blood pressure and heart disease, said, "I have no income other than state welfare support. I asked my two daughters, son and son-in-law for money to help me get by, but they refused, saying they don't have enough money even for themselves."
A court ruled earlier this month that the children and son-in-law must each pay him between W100,000 and W150,000 (US$1=W1,129).
The main reason is that many elderly parents have no other source of income. A typical complainant is over 70 with no income and suffering from various ailments.
Those with children who are capable of supporting them do not qualify for basic living subsidies, which amount to a maximum of W436,044 a month and must rely solely on state welfare support for the elderly, which is a mere W90,000 a month. If they have no children, they are entitled to some W500,000 in government support payments.
A judge at a Family Court said, "With the sharp increase in the number of senior citizens, we need to come up with more systematic measures to help the elderly who are being ignored by their children."