The Korea Herald


Generational conflict severe in South Korea: study

By Claire Lee

Published : Sept. 6, 2018 - 17:56

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Generational conflict is severe in South Korea, especially between the elderly and the younger generation, with almost 90 percent of young and middle-aged adults saying they cannot “communicate well” with elderly Koreans, a newly released report showed. 

The report, authored by Jeong Sang-hwan from the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, was submitted to the third ASEM Conference on Global Ageing and Human Rights of Older Persons, which was held from Sept. 5-6 in central Seoul this year.

The study surveyed 1,000 Koreans aged 65 and older, as well as 500 Koreans aged 18-64. 

A group of elderly women spend time at a community center in Busan. (Yonhap) A group of elderly women spend time at a community center in Busan. (Yonhap)

The researcher said rapid aging of the population and industrialization have caused severe conflicts among Koreans today.

Almost 90 percent of the 500 young and middle-aged Koreans surveyed said they have problems when they try to communicate with elderly Koreans. Almost 80 percent of them said they feel that South Korea has a serious problem with generational conflict.

At the same time, 51 percent of the seniors surveyed said they encounter communication problems when interacting with the younger generation. Nearly 45 percent of them said the country’s intergenerational conflict is a serious issue.

Notably, 61 percent of the seniors surveyed said they feel that their opinions are being valued and considered when society makes important decisions, while only 36 percent of young and middle-aged Koreans felt the same way.

The report also showed that 99.3 percent of the seniors surveyed spend their free time watching TV or listening to the radio, and a very small proportion of them engaged in social activities, such as volunteering.

At the same time, 60 percent of the seniors surveyed said they could not find jobs post-retirement because of age restrictions, and some 45 percent said they have experienced ageism at workplaces.

Among the seniors who were caring for their grandchildren, only 24 percent said they volunteered to do it. More than 75 percent said they were only doing it because they couldn’t say no to their children, especially if both parents worked full-time.

The study also found that 35 percent of the seniors surveyed had no post-retirement savings, and 26 percent had thought of taking their own lives at least once. Almost 25 percent said they were afraid of dying alone without anyone noticing.

“Most Korean senior citizens are economically vulnerable and suffering from health issues such as an increase in medical expenses and a need for care,” Jeong wrote in his report.

“In addition, they are more likely to lose their jobs against their will, and it is difficult to find re-employment. They are also exposed to various types of human rights violations in many aspects of life, including prejudice, discrimination, and abuse.”