Friday, November 30, 2007

Article on the elderly who live alone

The Joongang Ilbo has a depressing article about the number of elderly people living alone.
According to the foundation, a 66-year-old woman living in alone in a rundown part of Mapo was found dead last month in her home two days after she died. The cause of death was starvation. She had no contact with relatives and had been refusing to get help from the district office.
Also in October, a 67-year-old man was found dead at home. Alerted by a bad smell, the landlord called police, who found a body that had been decaying for at least a month. The man had been suffering from tuberculosis. [...]

There are an estimated 880,000 elderly living alone currently, but the government expects the number to rise to 1 million by 2010.
I can't help but think of a Simpsons episode where their dog becomes a nuisance, and the family thinks about getting rid of the dog. Lisa responds thusly:

"This is our pet. We can question his integrity and disposition, but we can’t question his heart. Are you trying to teach us that the way to solve a problem with something you love, is to throw it away?"

The camera then pans across town to Grandpa Simpson in his room at the retirement home. He looks at the phone, which isn't ringing, picks it up, and says, "Hello? Is anyone there?" Though it is, to a degree, played for laughs, it was obviously commenting on a rather ugly aspect of (North) American society. Reading that "She had no contact with relatives", I can't help but think that it's too bad that this aspect of western society (or capitalist modernity in general) has become a trend in Korea as well. So much for "respecting your elders".

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