Young People Drain out of Seoul

  • By Ahn Joon-ho

    April 08, 2022 08:45

    Soaring property prices are threatening to drive the younger generation out of an increasingly geriatric Seoul, with all the loss of vitality and vibrancy that entails.

    The capital's population in their 20s and 30s has fallen an alarming 8.2 percent over the last seven years, compared to an overall decline of 5.1 percent as people decamp to the suburbs and satellite cities.

    According to the Seoul city government on Wednesday, there were 2.86 million people in their 20s and 30s -- 1.46 million women and 1.4 million men -- left in Seoul last year, accounting for 30.1 percent of the city's population. But that was down from 3.11 million in 2015.

    The overall population of the capital has also declined from 10 million to 9.51 million.

    Many people escaped to other cities. Last year alone, 5.67 million Seoul residents moved to other cities and almost half of them were in their 20s and 30s. The top reason why people in their 20s left was due to family, followed by jobs, while those in their 30s cited housing and family.

    One 39-year-old tech company worker used to live in a flat in Seoul's Dangsan-dong but moved to Goyang north of Seoul in 2019 when he got married because he could not afford to lease an apartment in Seoul with the W350 million he had (US$1=W1,219). And when his contract ended last year, his landlord jacked up the lease and he was forced to find an apartment in the satellite town of Gimpo in Gyeonggi Province for W400 million.

    Now he has a long commute to work in Gangnam every day. "I was forced to move further away from work because of soaring apartment prices," he said. "I would like to move back to Seoul when I have a child, but the high apartment prices make me think that won't happen."

    Meanwhile, 71.5 percent of Seoul citizens in their 20s and 30s use public transportation to go to school or work. Some 46.6 percent said they are stressed, be it as a result of inter-personal relationships, finances, or excessive work or homework.

    The city surveyed 20,000 households including 2,500 foreigners from September to November of last year.

    Park Jong-soo at City Hall said, "We will put more effort into improving housing for younger residents." 

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