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[News Focus] Portion of Koreans aged 50 or over exceeds 40% for 1st time

1 in 6 Koreans are seniors, aged 65 or over

Students of a senior model class, offered by a federation of local artists, pose after completing their training courses in Mok-dong, Seoul in May 2019. (Federation of Artistic & Cultural Organization of Korea)
Students of a senior model class, offered by a federation of local artists, pose after completing their training courses in Mok-dong, Seoul in May 2019. (Federation of Artistic & Cultural Organization of Korea)

SEJONG -- The percentage of South Koreans aged 50 or over topped the 40 percent mark for the first time last month.

According to the Ministry of Interior and Safety, the number of those aged 50 or more reached 20.78 million as of June. This made up 40.09 percent of the entire population, up from 28.6 percent of the population in June 2010.

The tally for those aged 50 or over first rose past 20 million in 2019.

Those in their 50s topped accounted for the largest group in the June 2020 population, totaling 8.6 million, outstripping those in their 40s at 8.3 million, those in their 30s at 6.9 million and those in their 20s at 6.8 million. The people aged 10-19 and those aged under 10 numbered 6.8 million and 4 million, respectively.
 
(Graphic by Kim Sun-young/The Korea Herald)
(Graphic by Kim Sun-young/The Korea Herald)

Those in their 60s came to 6.5 million, followed by those in their 70s at 3.6 million and those in their 80s at 1.6 million. Over 240,000 were in their 90s.

Further, the number of centenarians also reached an all-time high of 21,134 last month, compared to 2,757 in June 2010.

South Koreans’ average age reached to an all-time high of 42.9 years as of June, compared with 37.8 a decade earlier. The average age reached the 40 mark in October 2014 for the first time.

The average ages for men and women were 41.8 and 44.1, respectively, across the country.

By region, South Jeolla Province recorded the highest average age, at 46.5. North Gyeongsang Province ranked second at 46, followed by Gangwon Province at 45.6, North Jeolla Province at 45.3 and Busan (the nation’s second-largest city) at 44.8.

Meanwhile, the number of Koreans aged 65 or over -- whose are classified as seniors -- posted 8.29 million as of last month.

The percentage of seniors has topped the 16 percent mark for the first time since the nation compiled the data. This means nearly 1 in 6 Koreans are aged 65 or above.

The lifespan of Koreans is quickly extending. South Korea ranks 14th in the world in life expectancy, at 82.4 years.

The country is projected to overtake France (10th as of 2020), Sweden and Israel (joint 11th) and Canada (13th) by 2040, and to further surpass Italy (sixth), Australia (eighth) and Iceland (ninth) by 2060, according to a United Nations forecast.

The longer lifespan is seen from the portion of Koreans aged 80 or more and a comparison of data over the past decade.

In June 2010, the number of Koreans in their 80s or older stood at 911,598, which was only 1.8 percent of the. The figure rose to 1.35 million (2.6 percent) in June 2015, and to 1.95 million (3.7 percent) in June 2020.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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