The standard of living and social conditions have improved radically for most South Koreans from the 1960s onwards. The development was temporarily broken when the country was included in the great Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998. Deeply shaken South Korea and many living conditions deteriorated as industrial giants dismissed employees in large numbers.
Those who lost their jobs also lost the social security associated with the employer: most of the health insurance, cheap housing, subsidized school fees, discounted purchases and more.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in South Korea, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Since the turn of the millennium, living standards have again risen significantly. However, according to the cooperative organization OECD, the income gaps have widened between employees in large companies and other groups in the labor market.
Health care has improved significantly in recent decades. The health insurance system from 1989, like the pensions, covers almost all citizens. Some groups, such as civil servants, military, and teachers, have better social benefits from the state than the general conditions of all South Koreans.
Korean society is traditionally hierarchical, strongly influenced by Chinese wisdom doctrine Confucianism. Duty, loyalty and honor are emphasized, as is education and obedience to the authorities. Humiliation is a characteristic feature of Koreans. Respect for parents and ancestors is most important of virtues, and woman is subordinate to man.
Family names, wealth and social contacts have been crucial to success, but nowadays study background is of great importance for advancement in South Korean society.
Industrialization and urbanization changed the hierarchies and created a new power elite, the industrial class. A new middle class emerged consisting of officials and academics, at the same time as workers increased in numbers and developed martial-arts trade unions.
Family, family and clan are at the heart of Korean culture. Obligations towards the family are overriding other duties. The father is the head of the family and the eldest son has special responsibility. In modern cities, traditional family values have weakened and three generations have become two in households.
The woman’s position has partly improved, but she is often responsible for homes, children and older relatives, even if she works for work.
Arranged marriages in cities have usually been replaced by love marriage and professional contact. Nowadays women also have the right to divorce, but economic and social discrimination makes it more difficult for them. Young women have borne much of the industry’s success. Now more and more women are getting higher education, but many leave the profession when they get married. Female submissiveness in the public is often switched to leadership roles in the home, where women often control the family finances.
Traditionally, the eldest son received most of the inheritance due to duties towards aging parents. Now the law gives equal inheritance rights between sons and daughters.
In the past, infants were carried on the mother’s back, and they are still given close attention by parents. Traditional gender roles are encouraged, men are made more dependent on their parents and women become more independent. A lot of resources are invested in children’s education.
Confucian family views only accept heterosexuality. Some openness prevails today, but a general resistance to homosexuality remains.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 3 per 1000 births (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 99.6 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 100.0 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 7.4 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 2,044 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 17 percent (2018)
Four dead in North Korean attack
November 23 – Two Marines and two South Korean civilians are killed in an attack by North Korean artillery against South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.
A few days later, demonstrations are held in Seoul as a protest against the government’s inaction against North Korea.
Kim Hwang-Sik new Prime Minister
Parliament elects Kim Hwang-Sik as new prime minister
The ruling party loses votes
The GNP government party suffers severe losses in local and regional elections.
North Korea was behind the attack
An international investigation revealed in May that it was a North Korean submarine attack that caused Cheonan’s loss. South Korea stops all trade with North Korea, while North Korea interrupts diplomatic relations.