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Countering ageism and intergenerational tension

Graphic: Older Koreans play chess in a local park

An international conference hosted by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea has explored the multiple challenges facing older people.

Almost 80 per cent of young and middle-aged Koreans believe that South Korea has a serious problem with intergenerational tension, a study by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) has found.

And almost 90 percent of young and middle-aged Koreans surveyed said they are not able to "communicate well" with older people in the community.

The report findings were presented to the Third ASEM Conference on Global Ageing and Human Rights of Older Persons, hosted by the NHRCK in Seoul from 4-7 September 2018.


Most Korean senior citizens are economically vulnerable and suffering from health issues …They are exposed to various types of human rights violations in many aspects of life.

National Human Rights Commission of Korea Logo National Human Rights Commission of Korea

The NHRCK study surveyed 1,000 Koreans aged 65 years and older, as well as 500 Koreans aged 18-64 years.

Approximately 60 percent of older people surveyed said they could not find jobs after retirement because of age restrictions, while 45 percent said they had experienced ageism in their workplaces.

The study also found that 35 percent of older people surveyed had no post-retirement savings and 26 percent had thought of taking their own lives at least once. Almost 25 percent said they were afraid of dying alone without anyone noticing.

The ASEM Conference was an opportunity for representatives from government, national human rights institutions, civil society groups and international agencies to explore the multiple challenges facing older people, especially those living in ageing societies, as well as strategies to address the discrimination and human rights violations that many older people experience.

As part of the conference, the NHRCK hosted a special session of the GANHRI Working Group on Ageing to follow up on discussions at the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing in July 2018 and identify key activities for the coming year.


"[We need] to move from discussion of the problems that have been abundantly documented to drafting a new convention that can contribute concretely to their resolution."

Read GANHRI's submission to UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing


The conference also included a roundtable discussion on the operation and activities of the ASEM Global Ageing Centre, established in June 2018, which will serve as a hub for research and good practice to promote and protect the rights of older people.

Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat, will contribute to the work of the ASEM Global Ageing Centre as a member of its Steering Committee.

Date: 17 September 2018


Image credits

  1. Older Koreans play chess in a local park - tlimphotography, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1P5mnMS