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Leisure Activities for Senior Citizens in Korea

2009/03/26 | Permalink | Source

It's a bit cold to be outside but many senior citizens are spending their afternoon in the park. Korea is one of the most rapidly aging societies with the nation's elderly population now reaching 5 million out of a total of about 49 million. And as a part of its social welfare program the city of Seoul opened a movie theater designed for seniors two months ago.

[Interview : Yoo Young-hee Audience] "I used to watch movies at home on TV, but now I can come here".

An average of 2-hundred people per day come to enjoy films for less than a third of the price they would normally pay.

[Reporter : Choi Won-young] "People come here to watch films that bring back old memories. And this is one of the few leisure activities available apart from watching television or taking a stroll in the park".

Other alternatives are to visit the local senior welfare center. People participate in various programs and some form their own social and activity groups with people sharing the same interests.

[Interview : Lee Sang-hee Program participant] "We have no where else to go other than the center every day. This is how we keep ourselves healthy".

Centers like this one often provide free lunch and about 3-thousand people come to this location daily. However there is a nationwide lack of such facilities to accomodate the fast-aging population.

[Interview : Ham Sang-won, Manager Senior Welfare Center of Seoul] "Although the number of senior citizens are increasing there are not enough spaces and activities available for them".

A survey carried out by Seoul shows that nearly 70 percent of those aged over 65 want to have more leisure activities for their spare time.

But in reality roughly half of the senior population is limited to watching television walking about in parks or just resting at home. In contrast across the water in Japan 60 percent of the elderly population do regular physical exercise and this is according to data compiled nearly 10 years ago.

With life expectancy for the average Korean now an astounding 80 years old people are often facing 20 years of post-retirement boredom without much to do.

Choi Won-young, Arirang News.

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