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S. Korea redrawing overall welfare plan for senior citizens

   South Korea is redrawing the country's senior citizen welfare plan to better cope with the steady aging of the population, the government said Thursday.

   The move comes as more and more people are expected to live longer in the coming years due to advances in medicine. The sharp drop in the country's birthrate is another source of worry since there will be fewer economically active young people available to support retirees in the future.

   Statistics showed that while five people are currently paying for the welfare of one senior citizen, by 2050, one wage-earning worker will effectively be responsible for one senior citizen, who does not have a steady income.

   The finance ministry said it set up a so-called centenarian welfare project task force in March that is reviewing various measures, such as getting more senior citizens to remain active in the workforce, and ways to ensure steady sources of income and counter sharp hikes in medical-related spending that can become a burden on individuals and the country as a whole.

   "There is a need to revamp the entire paradigm to meet the needs of an aged society," an official said. He stressed that it is prudent for the government to lay groundwork under the assumption that many people will live to 100 in the future, although no concrete plans have been set aside at present.

   Besides the finance ministry, other ministries such as the welfare, knowledge economy and labor ministries are engaged in coming up with new ideas along with the Financial Services Commission.

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