January 10, 2012 07:44
More and more Korean men in their 40s and 50s are being ostracized by their families when they lose their job and find themselves in desperate circumstances. "Every month, we get telephone calls from about 200 men in their 40s and 50s who ask for counseling," said Lee Ok-yi, the director of a hotline for men.
Lee said men who have lost the ability to earn money "become a nuisance to their families and are treated with contempt even at home." Many of them are ignored by their wives and children and forced to get divorced or separated. "They are kicked out of their home and live in flophouses or bedsits," she added.
These men often suffer loneliness and depression. "They are living hard and lonely lives as day laborers. When they call us, they usually say they want to die," Lee said. Many have worked for their families all their lives but are given no credit for what they have done.
According to Statistics Korea, the unemployment rate for men in their 40s is 2.5 percent and for men in their 50s 2.9 percent, lower than the overall unemployment rate for men of 4 percent. But actual unemployment is estimated to be much higher, and employment centers are always crowded with men in their 40s and 50s looking for jobs.
The number of men in this age group who live separately from their family rose steeply from 163,000 in 2000 to 400,000 in 2010, Statistics Korea said.
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