More men over 60 now have jobs than men in their 20s, a first for Korea since statistics started in 1963.
Statistics Korea on Monday said 1.8 million men aged 60 or older were in employment last year, up 100,000 from a year ago, compared to only 1.72 men in their 20s.
The number of employed men in their 20s was the smallest among all age groups except for teenagers. Those in their 40s were most economically active with 27.3 percent, those in 30s made up 25.3 percent, those in their fifties 22.2 percent, those in their sixties 12.5 percent, those in their 20s 12 percent, and teenagers 0.7 percent.
The total number of employed men and women in their 20s was 3.6 million, slightly more than the 3.1 million people over 60 still in employment, but the gap is narrowing. In 2008, the gap was over 1.2 million, but now it is a mere 500,000.
Experts cite two major reasons why men in their 20s struggle in the job market. Competition has intensified with an increasing number of women looking for jobs, and the two years of mandatory military service make it more difficult for men in their twenties to prepare for the job market.
An official in the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said, "Men in their 20s these days prefer good, stable jobs in big companies so they spend more time preparing their resume."
A change in the population structure also plays a part. In 2002, people in their 20s took up 17 percent of the total population, but that dropped to 14 percent in 2012. On the other hand, there are now more people over 60s, making up 17 percent of the population.