December 21, 2019 08:30
Koreans are still dying from malnutrition or committing suicide due to penury despite a massive rise in welfare spending.
According to a recent report by Statistics Korea, 109 people died from malnutrition in 2017 and 91 last year.
The number peaked at 291 in 1998 at the height of the Asian financial crisis. It declined to an average of 60 a year from 2002 to 2016, only to surge again recently.
One preventive medicine specialist said, "People who have been dying of malnutrition recently were not killed by the old scourges of war or famine but because they lost the will to live in poverty and stopped eating."
The number of suicides, which had been declining from 28.5 per 100,000 people in 2013 to 24.3 in 2017, rose again to 26.6 last year.
Kim Won-shik at Konkuk University said, "A closer look at government welfare policy shows it does not have a comprehensive plan but only stop-gap measures. This is why a lot of money is being spent but there are no tangible changes."
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