The Korea Herald

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1 in 4 over-70s still working in S. Korea

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Feb. 19, 2024 - 12:25

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About 1.55 million people aged 70 and above were still in work as of January 2024, accounting for 24.5 percent of South Koreans in that age group.

The number of over-70s working rose by 11.4 percent compared to the 1.39 million the year before, according to the Korean Statistical Information Service operated by Statistics Korea. The group made up 5.6 percent of the overall working population of the country this year, up from 5.1 percent in January of 2023.

Roughly half of those who still work beyond the age of 70 were aged at least 75 -- 750,6000. This meant 18.8 percent in the 75 and above group were still employed.

The statistics showed that some 30 percent of workers aged 70 and above were in agriculture, fishing and forestry. The next most common fields were social affairs and the services industry, with 22.8 percent.

Some 42.1 percent were what the Ministry of Labor defines as "simple laborers," referring to non-specialists whose job training only requires a few hours of training. About 29.6 percent of the 70 and above workers were specialists in agriculture, fisheries and farming sectors.

In light of the South Korean society rapidly aging, an increasing number of older people have been incorporated into the workforce. A recent statistic by the KOSIS showed that 20.1 percent of people who sought new jobs through the state-run Worknet last year were aged 60 and above.

In a May survey by Statistics Korea, 55.7 percent of respondents aged 65-79 said they wished to continue working.

About half -- 52.2 percent -- of the respondents who expressed their wish to continue working said they "need the money for living," while 38 percent said they do it "because they enjoy working, as long as their health allows it."