The woman’s death is part of one of South Korea’s grimmest statistics: the number of people 65 and older committing suicide, which has nearly quadrupled in recent years, making the country’s rate of such deaths among the highest in the developed world. The epidemic is the counterpoint to the nation’s runaway economic success, which has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries.
That contract was built on the premise that parents would do almost anything to care for their children — in recent times, depleting their life savings to pay for a good education — and then would end their lives in their children’s care. No Social Security system was needed. Nursing homes were rare.
But as South Korea’s hard-charging younger generations joined an exodus from farms to cities in recent decades, or simply found themselves working harder in the hypercompetitive environment that helped drive the nation’s economic miracle, their parents were often left behind. Many elderly people now live out their final years poor, in rural areas with the melancholy feel of ghost towns.
Such social shifts are not uncommon in the industrialized world. But the sudden change has proved especially wrenching in South Korea, where parents view their sacrifices as the equivalent of a pension plan and where those who are suffering are falling victim to changes they themselves helped unleash as they rebuilt the economy from the devastation of the Korean War.
Actions have consequences? Holy crap!
Old people, like children, are a burden.
Pretending they aren’t isn’t a great first step to solving these problems.
Relying on others to look after you — especially people who never asked to be born in the first place — was selfish and shortsighted.
It doesn’t matter if you were looking at the government for your “pension plan,” or your kids.
Any society that doesn’t value personal responsibility and the right of the individual over community or family is doomed, as we see here.
A stifling, conformist “traditional family structure,” no matter how old and entrenched, will erode the second people trapped within it sense a way out, the way the Berlin Wall was demolished in one day based upon nothing more than a rumor.
A group of grasping, shallow, selfish, materialistic people who “sacrificed” themselves for the “betterment of their children,” i.e., their own bottom line?
Those are “family values”?
Your customs are stupid. Get new ones.