Sunday, October 07, 2018

Korea's crisis of the elderly

Depressing article here. Excerpt:

Mr Lee, 76, is one of hundreds of old people living out their twilight years in rooms barely the size of cupboards, crammed side by side into the warren-like corridors of dismal hostels in the shadow of Seoul’s modern skyscrapers.

Time passes slowly in Dongjadong Jjokbangchon, a pensioners’ ghetto where old men and women sit in solitude in the park or shuffle slowly past rundown buildings before making a meagre dinner on a camping stove.

Like many others, Mr Lee, a former house painter who arrived in Seoul over 50 years ago, does not wish to burden his three children with his financial woes. “They are too busy taking care of their own children. I don’t want any support from them,” he said.

He rents his sparse living quarters - where he keeps a roll-up mattress, a fridge, fan, and a wire on the wall as a makeshift wardrobe - for $200, one third of his monthly state pension. Toilets and a shower are shared with his neighbours.

“It’s uncomfortable but I have to live with it,” he said. “Everyone here is in a similar situation to me.”

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