The Korea Herald


26 percent of divorces involve elderly couples

By Kim Yon-se

Published : Dec. 10, 2013 - 20:13

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The number of divorce cases among elderly or middle-aged Koreans surpassed 30,000 for the first time in 2012, according to Statistics Korea data released on Tuesday.

According to the state statistics agency, the number of divorces among people whose married life exceeded 20 years reached about 30,200 last year. This comprised 26.4 percent of the total number of divorces in 2012 among couples of all ages.

Further, this marked the first time that the number of divorces among elderly couples surpassed that of young husbands and wives who had been married for less than four years. This group comprised 24.7 percent of the total, with about 28,200 divorces.

The number of divorces among senior Koreans has continued to increase since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

While this group accounted for only 7.2 percent of the total number of divorces in 1994, the figure rose to 14.2 percent in 2000, 17.8 percent in 2003, 19.1 percent in 2006 and 28.3 percent in 2009. This contingent was involved in only 1.3 percent of the divorces 30 years ago.

“The idea of marriage among the old generation, the so-called baby boomers, has been changing rapidly. It seems that the conventional idea of staying married for the sake of the marriage is losing ground,” said an official at the agency.

More and more social organizations reiterate that policymakers should pay extra attention to the phenomenon of baby boomer couples hitting the rocks. They say that active counseling as well as other forms of support are needed.

On the other hand, the number of divorces among younger people has been in decline over the past decade. The number of cases among couples who had been married for less than four years peaked at 49,000 in 2003. The figure, however, dropped to 33,700 in 2009 and 28,200 in 2012.

A downward trend could also be seen among those who have been married for between five and nine years, between 10 and 14 years and between 15 and 19 years.

Meanwhile, female Koreans posted 227.6 percent in terms of the number of remarriages over the past 30 years ― from 17,200 cases in 1982 to 56,500 cases in 2012. This far surpassed the growth rate of 93.5 percent recorded among male Koreans.

By Kim Yon-se (