Go to contents

THE DONG-A ILBO Logo

Lonely deaths

Posted September. 13, 2017 08:11,   

Updated September. 13, 2017 08:54

한국어

The Korean movie "The Bacchus Lady" released last year is about an elderly woman who makes living by being a sex worker for old men. She meets an old man who hopes to end his life that she actually kills him. The movie is ultimately a story about aging problem such as disease, poverty and loneliness. Though it's only a movie, no one would be able to throw a stone on her.

Meanwhile, waste disposal sites in Japan are flooding with money that has no owners. According to NHK's report citing Police White Book, the amount of money that was picked up in the waste disposal sites reached 17.7 billion yen (161 million dollars) last year alone. The money was mostly stored in closets of people who died after living alone. The amount of money that was sent to state coffers because there was no one to inherit them reached 42 billion yen (382 million dollars) in 2015. This represents a serious situation that Japan's super aging society faces.

Back in 2012 in Japan, son in his 60s killed himself and lied besides his father in 90s who have been dead for six months. In the same year, a mother in her 70s died in Tokyo due to lack of care after her daughter in her 30s died of illness. The Japanese government is pushing for a "zero lonely death" project through which electricity and gas usage is checked for old people living alone while civil servants and residents are recommended to visit these homes. However, there have been limitations in stopping deaths since there are many people who tend to alienate themselves and don't want to be interfered by neighbors and governments.

Also in Korea, news are coming out of dead bodies being discovered after several months of death. Korea has the fastest aging rate in the world and single-person households take up 25.3 percent of total households as of 2012. Due to late introduction of basic pension system. the poverty rate of people aged 65 and over is sharply higher than in Japan. While there is no accurate data on lonely deaths, the number of dead people that the government managed reached 1,008 in 2014, meaning that there could be more die alone people. While the role of the government is important, neighbors' warm greetings and care is more important to prevent lonely deaths.