Many Elderly Confined to Squalid Studio Flats

      July 06, 2021 10:34

      The overheated housing market starkly reflects the growing gap between rich and poor in Korea, the latest figures show.

      While households that own more than five homes increased from 137,899 in 2015 to 160,172 in 2019, those that do not own any home also grew from 8.41 million to 8.89 million and now account for 43.6 percent of all households, according to Statistics Korea.

      The most vulnerable people who do not own their homes are the elderly. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has found that 42.8 percent or 3,796 households who lived in squalid one-room flats last year are over 65. Others live in small, low-rent rooms for students studying for exams or in boarding houses.

      The number of senior citizens who have to work to make ends meet is also increasing. The so-called economic participation rate of people aged 65 to 69 grew from 39.9 percent in 2008 to 55.1 percent last year.

      Ku In-hoe at Seoul National University said, "The biggest worry among senior citizens living alone is housing. We urgently need to increase the number of senior citizens eligible for housing support and benefits."

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