Most Koreans have to work until they are well over 70 in order to make ends meet due to a weak social safety net and lack of savings.
The OECD in a report on Monday put the actual retirement age for Korean men at 71.1 as of 2012, second only to Mexico, where it was 72.3. The actual retirement age for women was 69.8, second after Chile (70.4).
According to the OECD, Koreans work another 11 years on average after retirement, the longest in the world, often taking part-time or low-paid jobs or opening small shops.
The main reason is a lack of financial preparation. The Chosun Ilbo commissioned the Korea Employment Information Service to survey 3,517 people born between 1938 and 1953 and found that their average annual income stood at W19.8 million, and for one-person households at just W11.34 million (US$1=W1,023).
About 41.7percent of the respondents said they regard themselves as poor, while a mere 3.9 percent said they belong to the wealthy class.
The elderly people surveyed had only W157,000 of spending money, or just W5,000 a day. The money is spent on transportation and lunch. The amount depends mainly on whether they work or not.
For employed elderly people, the average monthly disposable income is about W188,000 a month, compared to just W130,000 for those who do not work.
The reason they have so little disposable income is that most of their cash goes on living expenses and medical costs. Some 21.3 percent of two-person households and 58.1 percent of single-person households in the survey make less than W7.5 million a year.
That more or less rules out any leisure activities. Respondents said they could afford to go on outings on average 1.1 times a year. They only go to the movies, plays or sporting events once every five years.