Life in Transit: South Korea's Senior Subwayers
It is 8 AM, and the Seoul Metro Station buzzes with commuters and office workers hurrying to catch their trains. However, this bustle subsides during the afternoon hours when the train’s onboard passengers become more of a senile demographic. They can be seen nodding off in their seats, gazing at the passing scenery, and engaging in shoulder stretches. This has now become a common occurrence in South Korea, with its rapidly aging population and its policy of free fare rides.
In 1984, South Korea implemented its fare-free policy for those over 65 when the percentage of senior citizens was relatively low. However, fast forward to the present year, the percentage has surged to 18%, compared to the mere 4% in 1984. Demographers like Shin Seong-il express concerns that this issue would worsen, with Statistics Korea projecting a rise to 30% by 2035 and a potentially staggering 45% by 2070.