An increasing number of people are dying alone in Korea, a report from the Ministry of Health and Welfare showed Tuesday.
Last year, 878 people died completely alone with no identifiable friends or family members. The report compiled data from 2011 to 2013 and was revealed by Rep. Kim Choon-jin of the New Politics and Alliance for Democracy.
During that time, the number of people dying in solitude increased each year from 682 in 2011. About 79.2 percent were men, while 18.2 were women. The rest of the bodies did not have their gender recorded.
Contrary to the widely-held belief that senior citizens ― aged 65 or more ― are most prone to dying alone, it was found such deaths were more common among those aged 51-60, with the latter outnumbering the former 87 to 66.
A total of 46 people were from age group of 61-64, followed by the 41-50 group with 38. Only 10 victims were aged 40 or less, and the age of the remaining eight were not identified.
But the data only covers those who have no family. Rep. Kim said that since there are several people with family members that die alone, the actual figure for solitary death must be much higher.
“The government must come up with measures to solve the issue of solitary deaths, which has become a serious problem,” he said.
The Welfare Ministry is currently preparing several programs to protect one-person households of senior citizens, which include creating communes for elderly people who live alone. The number of senior citizens living by themselves is estimated to exceed of 1.25 million as of 2013, but the figure is expected to triple to 3.4 million by 2035, according to the government.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)