Koreans are having far fewer children than in the past, with the average birth rate, 1.41 children per person, between 2000 to 2005 (according to the United Nations Population Fund), putting Korea 26th in the world, for birth rates. With a decreasing young population and increasing old population, despite the potential for problems with pension funds for the older Koreans, the long-term future looks healthy. With a shortage of young people entering the work market, the problem of graduate employment will eventually decrease by natural means and companies will gradually need to keep older employees, as graduate numbers become less. The knowledge and experience of older businessmen and women will likely do companies no harm. Very similar to in the UK, pension funds is an issue in government, with concerns over having enough to cover state pensions in the future.
Reports in European media about Korea, reflect positive thoughts about the future economic growth. Koreans themselves can sometimes be pessimistic about the future and Korean media sometimes seems to reflect this. Concern for example, that another crisis such as the IMF crisis will happen again, or that problems with the American economy in the future will affect the Korean economy, are understandable. Nevertheless, Korea has risen from the ashes to become one of the top economies in Asia and there seems no reason why they cannot remain strong.
My concern is that when the two Koreas do eventually re-unify (as I am sure they will at some point), a huge burden will be placed monetarily on the South. South Korea has attempted to consider this issue and an attempt has been made in the last 8 years to send certain aid items North of the border, i.e. for agriculturally use, in order to improve the standard of living and to try and bring the level in the North closer to that in the South. Such issues have been addressed and most students told me that, if it meant Korea re-unifying, then they would not mind the economic burden.
There was one expression I heard a few times in Korea and if it is true, many men in Korea will likely still have something to be happy about in economic hardship. It is an interesting expression.
“When the Korean economy goes down, the fashion for short skirts goes up”
Paul writes about South Korean culture and Paris holidays and travel.