Work after retirement is a must for many Koreans born in 1960s, finance expert says

Older adults attend a job fair at Mapo District Office in Seoul in this December 2023 photo. Yonhap

Koreans born in the 1960s have a unique life experience. Born into a country deeply impoverished by the Korean War, with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of only $79, they are now retiring in a developed nation where the figure has soared to $32,000.They began their careers during the so-called “three lows” era — low oil prices, low interest rates and a low (weak) Korean won, which together, fueled sharp economic growth. Finding jobs was relatively easy, and year-on-year wage increases were substantial. At that time, 70 percent of the population believed they belonged to the middle class.As a result, Korean society now views this generation as “rich” and “powerful,” with them making up a significant amount of the population (8.6 million).Entering the 2020s, individuals born in the 1960s are now approaching retirement.Yet, for many, not working anymore seems like a distant dream.”This generation is the last to take full responsibility for caring for their parents and the first that may not receive care from their children. As they embark on the second act of their lives, they face uncertainty about their lifespan, inadequate retirement savings, and unstable national pension finances,” Kim Gyung-rok, executive advisor at Mirae Asset Financial Group, told The Korea Times in a recent one-on-one interview. Kim, a seasoned expert in the retirement and pension sector, recently published a book titled “The 1960s Are Coming (direct translation)” and shared his analysis of their characteristics and expected futures.

Kim believes that polarization is a key term to describe the post-retirement experiences of Koreans born in the 1960s. They experienced distinct labor market divisions after enduring the Asian economic crisis in 1997 and witnessed a shift from traditional to advanced industrial sectors.”Those born in the 1960s who have held permanent positions in the so-called ‘good’ labor market, such as in big corporations, are generally well-prepared for their post-retirement lives. They had a chance to save their stable income and contribute to the national pension for over 30 years,” Kim said.”However, others whose situation was not favorable, including the self-employed or those who have jumped between temporary jobs, are less prepared and face many struggles. If they retire at the age of 60, they have to survive almost 30 years without earned income, savings, or a sufficient pension. They have no choice but to undergo the reemployment process,” Kim added.In addition, the legal retirement age in Korea, 60, is five years earlier than in many advanced economies. Yet it is common for individuals to leave their main jobs as early as between the ages of 50 and 55. This trend is influenced by the large number of baby boomers in their 50s, coupled with the wage system, which is based on seniority rather than performance.As a result, many retirees, still young and active, choose to reenter the job market. In 2023, the workforce expanded by 327,000 compared to the previous 스포츠토토존 year, with those in their 60s accounting for 72 percent of this growth.

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