Category: Healthcare System

Young South Koreans say they don’t want their children to inherit their kind of life(Hankyoreh)

Young South Koreans say they don’t want their children to inherit their kind of life

Young people gathered on Aug. 31 at the Future Office at Seoul Innovation Park, located in the Eunpyeong District of Seoul, to share their candid opinions about South Korea’s low birthrate with a group of South Korean lawmakers.

#downsizing_population #low_birthrate #Korea

At meeting to discuss low birthrate, young people argue that gov’t needs a careful look at why young people are not getting married or having children

“I don’t want my children to inherit the kind of life I’m leading right now.” –Kwon Ji-woong, chair of the steering committee of the Seoul Youth Policy NetworkAround a dozen young people gathered on Aug. 31 at the Future Office at Seoul Innovation Park, located in the Eunpyeong District of Seoul, to share their candid opinions about South Korea’s low birthrate with a group of South Korean lawmakers.

The lawmakers are members of a National Assembly research forum that aims to find ways for lawmakers to help South Korean society overcome its extremely low birthrate.Rep. Yang Seung-jo and Rep. Kim Jeong-woo, both lawmakers with the opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, and Yun So-ha, a lawmaker with the opposition Justice Party, organized the meeting to hear from young people – the people who are, or rather aren’t, having children – about how to fix the low birthrate.

“A low birthrate is a statement by the majority of the members of a society that they do not want to perpetuate their current way of life. It amounts to a society deciding to commit suicide,” said Kwon, who is 28, during the meeting.

“Rather than trying to figure out how to encourage people to have children, we need to start with the question of how we can make people consider their lives as being worth living.”

“For structural reasons, young people who are able to enjoy the normal lives enjoyed by our parents’ generation – of dating, marrying and having children – are becoming a minority. Government policy should also begin by acknowledging the reality that young people are joining the work force later and are disinclined to get married, rather than demanding young people to get a job as soon as they graduate and to get married once they reach a certain age,” Kwon suggested.

Lim Gyeong-ji, 28, chair of the Min Snail Union, says lack of housing for young people is a reason for the low birthrate.“Since young people have low incomes and have to pay rent, it’s not very likely that they will be able to save enough money to buy a house. Instead of always coming up with supply- and loan-focused housing policies that promote home ownership, we need policies that can provide a stable lifestyle even for people who remain tenants their whole life and never manage to buy a house,” Lim said.

“Not long ago, the new chairman of the Korea Student Aid Foundation said that debt is what motivates people to work hard. But the reality is that young people face so much pressure to pay back their debts that it’s hard for them to picture a normal future,” said Han Yeong-seop, 36, director of the Youth Money Habit Training Center.

Han argues that the fact that a significant number of young people are going into debt to cover the cost of university tuition, housing, and living expenses is the main reason that they are putting off or even giving up on marriage and children.

“I’m over 30, and I’m dating someone, but even I’m still not sure whether I should get married. Rather than going on about how the low birthrate is a problem, the government and politicians need to take a careful look at why young people are not getting married or having children,” Han said.

The three lawmakers who organized the meeting said they will listen carefully to the difficulties that are actually faced by young people in a low-birthrate society and will attempt to address those difficulties through government policy. They added that they believe that this meeting should be taken as an opportunity not to simply say that Koreans need to have more children but to look at the structural problems in South Korean society.

By Hwangbo Yon, staff reporter

 

Original article from: http://bit.ly/2bQFBfL

Housing costs burden young women living alone(Koreaherald)

#single_household #housing_cost #Korea

 

Women in their 20s and 30s who make up single households in Seoul voluntarily decided to live alone, mostly because they sought freedom and convenient commutes. However, they often find themselves weighed down by housing expenses, data showed Tuesday.

According to a survey by the Seoul Foundation of Women and Family in June, 87.8 percent of respondents in the 20-39 age group said they chose independent lifestyles out of their own free will, while 65.1 percent cited the need to shorten commutes.

On the other hand, the older generation was more driven by factors such as separation with their spouses, either by death or divorce, living separately from their grown-up children and family discords.

Among the 500 respondents of the 40-59 age group, 55.6 percent said that they started to live alone due to family splits. The corresponding figure was much higher for those 60 and above, at 92.5 percent.

Meanwhile, 74.2 percent of those who make up single households in their 20s and 30s said they faced the financial burden of housing costs.

Already OECD lowest, South Korea’s birthrate getting worse(hankyoreh)

South Korea fertility rate and number of births. Data: Statistics Korea

Government’s many measures have had little effect on raising the low birthrate

The reason the South Korean government has been left resorting to public “appeals” to overcome the low birth rate crisis stems from the fact that the rate has remained stagnant despite various measures to raise it over the years. The total fertility rate for women of childbearing age (15 to 49) stood at 4.53 in 1970. It fell steeply through the 1970s and 1980s before hitting rock bottom at 1.08 in 2005. While it hasn’t fallen any further since then, it also has shown almost no rebound in the ten years since. Last year, the South Korean birth rate was just 1.24. In terms of numbers of newborns, the decline has also been dramatic: from one million in 1970 to 438,000 last year. As of 2014, South Korea registered the lowest birth rate among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries.

Number of births this year

Maintaining the current population would require a replacement birth rate of 2.1. Countries that fail to achieve this level are called “low-birth rate societies”; those with a rate below 1.3 are called “ultra-low birth rate societies.” South Korea was already considered a low-birth rate society by 1983, but it was not until 2005 that it began vigorously pursuing measures to raise the birth rate. Since then, administrations have come out with measures to combat the low birth rate every five years – but the young couples who would be having the children are feeling little effect from them.In addition to number of newborns, declines have been occurring for most major indicators for low birth rate. The number of marriages between Jan. and May 2016 was down by 9,000 from the same period the year before. Employment conditions have failed to improve for young people, with the youth unemployment rate rising year after year (10.3% as of June). The number of women aged 25 to 39 – considered the most likely to have children – fell from 6.25 million in 2005 to 5.26 million last year.In announcing its third framework plan in Dec. 2015, Seoul set a total fertility rate target of 1.5 by 2020. Initially, it had pledged measures to increase the number of newborns this year to 445,000. The plan was to increase births by around 8,000 per year to reach the target of a birth rate of 1.5. But experts warn that with little impact perceived from the current measures, the number of births could drop below what has been called the “Maginot line” of 400,000.

By Hwangbo Yon and Noh Hyun-woong, staff reportersPlease direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

Article from: http://bit.ly/2bwuyTY

2 workers die in renovation from a motel to hospital (Koreaherald)

Renovating motel to hospital seems common practice in S.Korea thesedays.

#worker’s_death #motel_to_hospital #Korea


Two workers died and four were injured when the roof of a three-story building collapsed Sunday during renovation work in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, Monday.

Three of the six workers were buried under the debris when the roof collapsed during work to transform the third floor from a motel to hospital offices.

(Yonhap)

Two of the buried workers died, but one was found alive after a 14-hour rescue effort.

The building’s structure was too weak use heavy machinery in the rescue operation, and the number of workers assigned to the rescue had to be limited to 20 at a time to avoid a secondary collapse.

Two of the workers were found to have been crushed to death by the debris.

(Yonhap)

A third was found to have survived, having stepped outside to smoke against a wall minutes before the sudden cave-in, avoiding the direct impact of the fallen roof.

The authorities suspect that the workers had unwittingly knocked down a wall that supported the roof, mistaking it for a non-supporting partition wall to separate motel rooms.

The mistake may have arisen partly because the building differed from typical Korean structures as it was built entirely of unreinforced brickwork, and blueprints of the original construction were missing, authorities said.

(Yonhap)

The authorities plan to question whether there were any legal breaches in the reconstruction work.

The first floor of the building is being used as a Chinese restaurant and the second floor is a hospital office area.

The renovation had been intended to expand the hospital’s premises.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)

Original article from : http://bit.ly/2bwt0ZU

Fiscal plan inadequate to cover welfare spending

#Welfare_spending #10.4%/GDP(2014) #S.Korea #fiscal_plan_for_welfare_needed

http://bit.ly/2bzoVZd

Finance Ministry officials have suggested the national budget will exceed 400 trillion won ($364 billion) for the first time next year, while reassuring the state debt will still be held below 40 percent of gross domestic product.

A senior ministry official said last week the 2017 budget would increase by more than 3.5 percent from this year’s 386.4 trillion won to hover slightly above the 400 trillion won mark.


The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that, despite the planned increase in fiscal spending, it might be possible to keep the national debt to GDP ratio in the 39 percent range.

The figure, which remained at 34.3 percent in 2013 when President Park Geun-hye’s administration was installed, is projected to rise to 40.1 percent in 2016. Submitting an 11 trillion-won supplementary budget plan to the parliament last month, the Finance Ministry said the national debt to GDP ratio might be down to 39.3 percent.

Behind financial authorities’ confidence that an expansionary budget will not further undermine fiscal soundness is a continuous increase in tax revenues.

According to government data, national tax revenues rose by 19 trillion won from a year earlier to 125.6 trillion won in the first half of this year. The amount accounted for 56.3 percent of the annual revenue target of 222.9 trillion won.

Corporate, income and value-added taxes were collected more than expected due to improved profitability of companies, a boom in the real estate market and an increase in private consumption.

Finance Ministry officials say the increase in tax revenues enables them to minimize the issuance of state bonds and repay part of the existing government debt.

South Korea’s national debt as a percentage of GDP may not seem high compared with other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The country’s national debt to GDP ratio of 37.9 percent in 2015 was far lower than 230 percent for Japan, 113.6 percent for US and 78.7 percent for Germany.

What is worrisome is that Korea has been seeing its national debt rise at the fastest pace among major economies in recent years and this trend is seen to accelerate in the coming decades.

In its long-term fiscal outlook released last year, the Finance Ministry warned that the debt ratio could surge above 90 percent by 2060 if new spending programs were put in place amid a slowdown in economic growth.

In a bid to secure fiscal soundness over the long term, the ministry last week disclosed a draft bill that would make it compulsory for the central government to keep debt below 45 percent of GDP and set the ceiling for the annual budget deficit at 3 percent of GDP.

Critics raise doubts about whether such fiscal targets will remain within reach down the road as the draft law leaves room for the government to go beyond the spending limit when the economic situation worsens.

This consideration may be necessary to prevent the economy already stuck in a low-growth rut from being dragged deeper into recession.

What is more worrying for experts is a lack of concrete measures to finance expanded welfare programs, which they note will make the government’s fiscal scheme unviable in the long run.

In a recent meeting with reporters, Vice Finance Minister Song Eon-seok dismissed concerns that welfare spending would be reduced to meet the fiscal requirements.

“The government will remain committed to adequate expenditure on welfare,” he said.

But he fell short of suggesting credible measures to fund an expanded set of benefit programs, the cost of which will increase rapidly due to an aging population and a low birthrate.

According to OECD data, Korea’s welfare spending to GDP ratio remained at 10.4 percent in 2014, less than half of the OECD average at 21.6 percent.

Experts note it may be too complacent for government policymakers to expect tax revenues to continuously increase to shore up their long-term fiscal scheme. Corporate profits may decline amid the prolonged economic slump and private consumption and real estate deals are likely to dampen as stimulus measures run out of stock.

Experts say serious consideration now needs to be given to raising taxes to meet rising welfare demand while keeping fiscal health.

“What is urgently needed is a way to ensure a stable and substantial increase in revenues rather than an adherence to fiscal rules,” said Oh Gun-ho, who leads a civic group devoted to building up a welfare society.

The administrations of President Park and her predecessor Lee Myung-bak have opposed increasing taxes, arguing the measure would hamper efforts to reinvigorate the economy. However, experts say that it is time to discuss overhauling the taxation system to increase revenues in a way the additional burden will be shared by big corporations, the rich and a larger proportion of wage earners.

By Kim Kyung-ho (khkim@heraldcorp.com)

Nurse at Samsung hospital diagnosed with tuberculosis

#tuberculosis #first_in_OECD_countries #nosocomial_infection #K-CDC #testing_all_Koreans_twice_lifetime #seriously??


A nurse working at a pediatric unit at one of the major general hospitals in Seoul has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, just weeks after another TB case was reported among nurses at a different hospital in the city, raising concerns over the nation’s control of the disease.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 27-year-old nurse was diagnosed with the disease Monday during a regular health examination provided by her employer — the Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul.

Prior to the diagnosis, she had been working at a pediatric unit at the hospital, specifically caring for patients with blood cancers. A total of 86 children who have been treated at the unit, as well as 43 health care workers who spent time with the nurse, are being tested for TB, the KCDC said. So far, 37 of the 43 health care workers have tested negative. Results are still pending for the other six.

Last month, a 32-year-old nurse, who was also working at a pediatric unit at the Ewha Womans University Medical Center, was diagnosed with TB through a regular health checkup. She had been working at the hospital’s intensive care unit for newborns. Following her diagnosis, 166 babies and 50 health care workers were tested.

Among them, two infants were diagnosed with latent TB — a condition in which the TB bacteria is in the body but inactive and causing no symptoms. Without treatment, about 5 to 10 percent of latent TB patients are known to develop TB at some point in their lives.

South Korea has recently seen a number of TB cases at facilities with a large number of people, such as schools and postpartum centers. Last year, TB cases were reported in 974 schools, 332 military bases and 91 day care centers and postpartum care facilities.

To tackle the issue, the Health Ministry announced in March that all Koreans would be required to be tested for latent TB at least twice in their lifetime, at age 15 and 40, starting next year.

TB treatments became free for all patients in Korea last month. South Korea currently has the highest incidence rate of TB among nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, partly due to the lack of epidemiological research of the disease since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Those who have visited the Samsung Medical Center and would like to get tested for TB can contact the hospital at (02) 3410-2227 or the state-run health center in southern Seoul at (02) 3423-7133.

Earthquake occurred just around 50 km from high concentration of nuke plants(hankyoreh)

Earthquake occurred just around 50 km from high concentration of nuke plants

#earthquake #nuclear_safety #Civic_Action_against_nuclear_power #Korea

As government pushes to build more reactors in densely populated area, civic groups seeking tighter safety checks

Capable fault lines and nuclear reactors in Busan, Ulsan, South Gyeongsang. Data: Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co.

The epicenter of the 5.0-magnitude earthquake that occurred in waters off the coast of Ulsan on the evening of July 5 was only 50 or 60 kilometers away from the Kori and Shin Kori and the Wolsong nuclear power complexes, which are the greatest concentration of nuclear power plants in the world. The proximity of the earthquake to these nuclear plants is increasing concerns about the safety of South Korea’s nuclear power industry. Given studies that suggest the Korean Peninsula is vulnerable to earthquakes up to 7.5 in magnitude, there are calls for the nuclear reactor safety standards to be strengthened.

“The earthquake that occurred in waters east of Ulsan on July 5 is believed to have been caused by a 1-kilometer break in a strike-slip fault at a depth of 10 kilometers,” the Korea Meteorological Administration and the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) announced on July 6.

“Earthquakes frequently occur in the waters off Ulsan, but you couldn’t say that this earthquake resulted from specific conditions,” said Seon Chang-guk, KIGAM’s chief of earthquake disaster research.

“For a big earthquake to occur, there has to be a series of smaller earthquakes along a certain fault line. Since we are not seeing a linear alignment in the earthquakes occurring around the epicenter, this should not be taken as a sign of a bigger earthquake,” said Ji Heon-cheol, chief of KIGAM’s seismic research center.

But given repeated studies showing that the strongest earthquake that can occur on the Korean Peninsula would have a magnitude of 7.5, the possibility of a major earthquake cannot be ruled out.

In 2001, Kim Seong-gyun, professor emeritus at Chonnam National University, estimated that the greatest possible earthquake on the Korean Peninsula would have a magnitude of 7.14±0.34. In 2014, Hong Tae-gyeong, a professor of earth system science at Yonsei University, made an estimate of 7.45±0.04.

“Since Korea is located where the neighboring tectonic plates are pushing along an east-west axis, there have always been a large number of capable faults,” said Oh Chang-hwan, a professor of earth and environmental science at Chonbuk National University. “It takes longer for the Eurasian Plate to build up energy than in Japan, but that doesn‘t mean that a large earthquake couldn’t occur.”

Studies show that about 60 capable faults are distributed around Busan, Ulsan and Gyeongju – which also happens to be where a total of 16 nuclear reactors are concentrated (including reactors that are planned but not yet built).

The epicenter of the earthquake that just occurred near Ulsan is 51 kilometers away from the Wolsong nuclear plant, where six nuclear reactors and a waste disposal facility are in operation. The epicenter is also 65 kilometers from the Kori and Shin Kori nuclear power complexes, where six nuclear reactors (including Kori No. 1) are currently running and where four more reactors are supposed to be built.

There are only 11 sites (6%) in the world where six or more nuclear reactors are clustered together, and all of South Korea‘s nuclear reactors are located in this area.

“These nuclear reactors, which are located in the part of the Korean Peninsula with the most frequent earthquakes and the greatest distribution of capable faults, are designed to withstand earthquakes up to the 6.5- to 6.9-magnitude range. But that’s 20 to 30 times weaker than the seismic energy in a 7.5-magnitude earthquake, which is the greatest expected magnitude,” said Yang-Lee Won-yeong, who leads the energy and climate team at the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement.

A team of researchers from the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology published an article in the June issue of “Geosciences Journal” contending that the Ilgwang Fault, located near the Shin Kori reactor, is connected to a capable fault off the coast of Busan, which means that it might be a large-scale capable fault.

“The earthquake-proof values refer to the Richter-scale magnitude that the reactors are designed to withstand assuming that the earthquake occurs 10km immediately below them. Considering that there is virtually no chance of an earthquake occurring immediately below the reactors, the current earthquake-proof design is at a very high level,” said Cho Seok-jin, press liaison with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP).

On Wednesday, civic groups from the Busan and Ulsan areas called for a complete and thorough assessment of the safety of nuclear plants and demanded that the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission revoke its approval for plans to build Reactors No. 5 and No. 6 at the Shin Kori complex in Eulju County, part of the Ulsan metropolitan area.

“The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission and the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety either excluded capable faults from the earthquake risk assessment or failed to even investigate them when they allowed Wolsong No. 1 to be restarted and when they approved the construction of Shin Kori No. 5 and No. 6,” said two civic groups called Busan Civic Solidarity Against Nuclear Power and Ulsan Joint Civic Action Against Nuclear Power.

Rep. Kim Jong-hun and Rep. Yun Jong-oh, independent lawmakers who represent Ulsan in the National Assembly, also issued a joint statement in which they demanded that a detailed investigation of undersea faults be carried out immediately. “Geologists believe that this earthquake occurred on the Tsushima-Goto Fault, which is an capable fault, and that a bigger earthquake could occur there,” the two lawmakers said.

By Lee Keun-young, senior staff writer, Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter, Kim Young-dong and Sin Dong-myeong, Ulsan correspondents

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

South Koreans no longer count on upward mobility for their children(hankyoreh)

South Koreans no longer count on upward mobility for their children

#social_mobility #inequality #Korea #멍멍꿀꿀


Long-term survey finds growing pessimism about hard work as a way of improving social status across generations

Comparison of views on inter and intra-generational social mobility. Respondents with optimistic views (Unit: %)

The results of recent research show that most members of South Korean society do not expect themselves or their children’s generation to be able to raise their social status.

Statistics Korea collected and analyzed data from more than 200,000 people surveyed in a study conducted from 1999 to 2015. The study is particularly noteworthy as a rare academic attempt to read society’s “awareness of possibilities” by means of long-term time series data. In a paper titled “South Koreans’ Thinking about Upward Mobility: Focusing on the Effects of Age, Period, and Cohorts,” presented jointly at a conference held by the Korean Sociological Association, Lee Wang-won, a researcher at Korea University’s Center for Applied Cultural Sciences, and Kim Moon-jo, professor emeritus of sociology, summarized their findings by saying, “Everywhere in South Korean society we find that people believe that no matter how hard an individual works, he cannot better his social status, and furthermore, neither will his children.”

The research team used the results of the survey of people’s thinking about intergenerational and intragenerational upward mobility. The questionnaire used included such queries as: “Is it possible for a member of our society to raise his or her socio-economic status by working hard at it?” “To what degree do you think the next generation can raise its socio-economic status to a level higher than that of the parents’ generation?” The first question focuses on the effectiveness of individual effort, while the second seeks to learn what expectations respondents have for changes is the distribution of resources. The researchers said, “These items are important because they show the individual’s awareness of and interpretation of social structure and milieu.” Of the data, the research team analyzed a sample of 224,715 respondents aged 18 to 80.

The 15-year average of those who thought that intragenerational upward mobility is possible was 29.4 percent, meaning that since 1999, only about one in three South Koreans have been optimistic about that possibility, while more than two-thirds did not believe it was possible. There was little change in these attitudes over the 15-year period. In terms of age groups, respondents in their early 20s who were still in university or had just graduated, and were thus less worldly-wise, were the most optimistic, whereas the number of those with a positive attitude about upward mobility decreased with age.

On the other hand, the 15-year average of those who thought that intergenerational upward mobility is possible was a considerably higher 40.6 percent. The researchers say, “This means that about 40 percent of Koreans, even after the financial crisis of 1997, believed that their children would be able to reach a higher status than they had.” The percentage of respondents who said their children would be better off reached a peak of 48 percent in 2009, right after the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, but afterwards the figure dropped steeply, falling to 32 percent in 2015, meaning that only about a third of Koreans think the next generation will be better off than themselves.

The difference in expectations for intragenerational versus intergenerational upward mobility has diminished over time, and the two figures are now converging. This gradual convergence began in 2006 and in recent years the fluctuations in the two trends have been similar, with both of them dropping continuously since 2008. This seems to indicate that even those whose attitude about their children’s generation had been positive right after the financial crisis have come to have greater doubts.

The researchers say, “We can infer that people lost faith in the possibility of upward mobility during the long slump that came after the initial upbeat outlook for the economy after the 2008 crisis.”

The researchers are particularly concerned about today’s youth, who pessimistically talk of abandoning their ambition for many things and even resigning themselves to remaining at the level of their parents’ generation. As a frustrated, depressed generation that has lost hope for the future, they need to “think deeply about the ill effect their negative attitude about upward mobility is having on South Korean society.” If all means of raising one’s social status have been obliterated from South Korean society, we need to ask ourselves whether this might not mean that we have already set out an a path that leads back to feudalism. We should think deeply about what could await us at the end of such a path.

By Kang Hee-cheol, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

[A Country Where Memorials Are Becoming the Norm] Guui Station, Gangnam Station, Sewol: Citizens’ Lives Increasingly Impoverished, While Government Remains Without a Solution(Kyunghyang)

[A Country Where Memorials Are Becoming the Norm] Guui Station, Gangnam Station, Sewol: Citizens’ Lives Increasingly Impoverished, While Government Remains Without a Solution(Kyunghyang)

#risk_society #human_security #Korea #Sewol_tragedy #Gangnam_misogynic_crime #Guui_worker’s_death

“I came here to remember the victim, because it did not feel like someone else’s affair,” one citizen spoke, at Guui Station, Seoul where a nineteen-year-old temporary worker died while trying to fix a screen door alone.

For some time now, memorials have become the norm in South Korea. A nineteen-year-old subcontract worker died while fixing the screen door at Guui Station; a twenty-something woman was killed in a unisex bathroom near Gangnam Station; a string of subcontract workers took their own lives in Ulsan and Geoje; and two years ago, the Sewol sank to the bottom of the ocean. Each time such a tragic event occurred, citizens rushed out to the streets, to squares, and remembered the dead. The frustration at the living conditions that never seem to improve and at the government that doesn’t have any solutions has turned such memorials into a daily routine.

A Screen Door, Now a Door of Memories: On May 31, notes and chrysanthemums are posted next to the screen door 9-4 in the platform at Guui Station, line 2 of the Seoul Metro. Citizens continue to visit this site, where a nineteen-year-old temporary worker died on duty. Kim Chang-gil

At the site of the accident at Guui Station, where the young worker, so busy that he didn’t even have the time to enjoy a decent meal, died on duty, citizens stopped to post messages remembering the victim on the screen door, and in the evening, they voluntarily engaged in a silent protest. Near Gangnam Station exit 10, located near the site where a woman in her twenties was killed at the hands of a man she did not know, more than a thousand notes with messages remembering the victim were posted. The citizens continued to come to remember the victim for ten days.

South Korea, which went through modernization in a relatively short time, suffered constant tragedies: in 1994, the Seongsu Bridge collapsed; in 1995, the Sampoong Department Store collapsed; in 1999, a fire burned down Sealand; in 2003, there was a fire in the Daegu subway; and in 2014, the Sewol sank. But the way people responded to such disasters changed with the Sewol tragedy. The one leading the memorial changed from the state to the citizens. Shortly after the accident, citizens rushed out to remember the victims and later brought the tragedy into the public forum. The Gangnam Station murder, once known as a “random murder” was redefined as a misogynic crime, because of the memos posted by young women.

The social network services (SNS) have become a catalyst in making memorials a daily routine. After the Gangnam Station murder, a Facebook page called “Gangnam Station Exit 10” (over 5,100 followers) emerged, and after the screen door accident at Guui Station, a Facebook page called “Guui Station Platform Screen Door 9-4” appeared.
Citizens are not simply remembering the victims. Behind the stream of notes lies the calm awareness of the contradictions in our social structure. An office worker we met at the site of the Guui Station accident, Yi So-yeong (30) said, “Our social structure is set up so that we cannot know who will die or how.”

Some experts claim that such a phenomenon is the expression of anxiety that the citizens have as they live in a risky polarized society. Yi Gwan-hu, a researcher at Sogang Institute of Political Studies said, “In a society without hope, we are comforted by the sympathy among hopeless people, by the fact that there are people ‘like me’ everywhere.”
The constant stream of memorials also brings with it fatigue, because nothing has actually changed even after the issue has been openly discussed by our society.
Lee Taek-kwang, a professor at Kyunghee University said, “Issues of a scale that cannot be solved by mourning and remembering the victims alone should be solved at the social level, but since politics, which should mediate the problem-solving, is not functioning correctly, people end up tired and frustrated. The government and the political parties should become the media in solving social problems.”

 

 

Number of Newborn Babies Reach Lowest Ever: South Korea’s Growth Engine Dies Down(Kyunghyang)

Number of Newborn Babies Reach Lowest Ever: South Korea’s Growth Engine Dies Down(Kyunghyang)
The total number of newborn babies this year has recorded the lowest ever as of April. If this trend continues, the number of babies born this year is expected to drop below the lowest annual figure of 435,031 (2005). The number of marriages has also sharply declined compared to last year, so the low birth rate trend is expected to worsen. The country is stuck in a marsh of slow growth and the number of newborn babies continues to drop every year. On top of that, as the productive population also heads downward, the South Korean economy is likely to see its growth engine deteriorate. Some experts even claim that the government’s policies to encourage childbirth and support childcare are actually fueling the current low fertility phenomenon.

“The Vicious Cycle of Slow Growth: The Problem of the Low Birth Rate” Due to the falling birth rate, the number of newborn babies this year is expected to reach a record-breaking low. An empty baby bed is seen in a neonatal unit at Cheil General Hospital in Jung-gu, Seoul on June 23. Kim Chang-gil

According to the “April Population Trend” released by Statistics Korea on June 23, only 35,300 babies were born in April, a 7.3% decrease from a year ago. This is the lowest monthly figure since they began collecting statistics in 2000. The decrease rate compared to the same month last year was also the biggest since November 2013 (-12.3%). The total number of babies born from January to April this year was 137,900, a 5.2% (8,100) decrease from the same period last year (156,000). The total number of newborn babies from January to April was smaller than the same period in 2005, the year that saw the smallest number of newborn babies (153,800). At this rate, we are likely to break that record this year.

The only local area where the number of newborn babies increased from January to April was Sejong-si. Daejeon saw its figures decrease by 11.8% and Seoul (-5.4%) and Gyeonggi-do (-5.2%) also witnessed a big drop in the number of newborn babies. Given that the reason for the increase in Sejong was because of special factors such as the relocation of government departments and national research institutes, the number of newborn babies is actually decreasing nationwide.

This is because young people are reluctant to get married and have children due to the economic recession and the growing housing prices. The number of marriages this year from January to April was 94,200, 6.9% less than the previous year (101,200). If the number of marriages thus drops, it will be difficult to expect the number of newborn babies to rise next year.

By next year, the number of children 14 years and younger will fall below the number of senior citizens aged 65 and older in South Korea, and the productive population (15-64) will decrease for the first time. The country is in desperate need of measures to slow down the rapid decrease in the population, but the government is only fueling distrust in childbirth and childcare policies with the recent controversy surrounding “customized childcare (limiting the time families can put their children aged 0-2 in childcare to six hours a day for single-income families)” following the conflict over the Nuri program. The government released a series of policies that raised labor intensity, such as performance-based salaries and easier layoffs, while neglecting to secure and expand the social safety net. Thus the nation is farther away from creating an environment where people can give birth to a child with peace of mind.

Jang Jin-hee, a research fellow at Seoul Foundation of Women & Family said, “When we analyze the reason people put off pregnancy and childbirth, the number one reason is economic conditions such as expensive housing prices and the cost of child-rearing. After giving birth to their first child and experiencing the difficulties in infant care, childcare, education, and also in keeping their careers, couples tend to give up on the idea of having a second child.”

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