70 Years of Independence Bring Huge Changes

      August 04, 2015 12:57

      Koreans are now much taller than they were seven decades ago, but a longer lifespan also means more illness, and affluence has reduced the birthrate to alarming lows.

      A recent report on changes in Seoul since the country's liberation from Japanese colonial rule released by the Seoul Institute on Monday shows that 17-year-old boys in the capital in 2013 were 173.9 cm tall and weighed 69.6 kg on average. That was an increase from 163.7 cm and 54.3 kg in 1965.

      The figures for girls stood at 161.3 cm and 51 kg in 2013, up 4.4 cm and 5.7 kg over the same period.

      But the number of newborns in the capital decreased to barely more than a quarter since liberation, from 37.3 babies per 1,000 people in 1947 to just 8.4 in 2013. In 1947, 99.3 percent of babies were born at home, but now 99.8 percent are born in hospital.

      There were also big differences in the causes of death. In 1947, pneumonia accounted for 12.6 percent of the deaths, followed by childbirth-related diseases (12 percent). But in 2013 cancer (31 percent), cerebrovascular disease (8.7 percent) and cardiac disease (7.9 percent) were the main causes of death.

      In 1942, the life expectancy for men was just 42.8 years and for women 47.1 years. Now men can expect to live 78.5 years and women 85 years.

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