South Korea is paying ‘lonely young people’ $500 a month to re-enter society


Seoul, South Korea

Some young South Koreans are so cut off from the world, the government is offering to pay them to “re-enter society.”

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family announced this week that it will provide 650,000 Korean won (about $500) per month to isolated social victims, to support their “psychological and emotional stability and healthy development.”

About 3.1% of Koreans between the ages of 19 and 39 are “lonely youth,” defined as “living in a confined space, disconnected from the outside for more than a certain period of time, and experiencing difficulty living.” do. a normal life,” according to Ministry report, Citing Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.

According to the ministry, this makes up about 338,000 people nationwide, with 40% starting their isolation in adolescence. Many factors are at play, including financial hardship, mental illness, family problems or health challenges.

The new measures specifically target young people as part of the larger Youth Welfare Support Act, which aims to help those most withdrawn from society, as well as young people without guardianship or school protection. who are at risk of crime.

The monthly allowance will be available to single youths ages 9 to 24 who live in a household earning less than the median national income — defined as about 5.4 million won (about $4,165) per month for a family of four in South Korea. is Youth can apply for the program at the local administrative welfare center; Their guardians, counselors or teachers can also apply on their behalf.

Emphasizing the importance of “proactive support,” the ministry said, “Alone young people may have slow physical development due to irregular lifestyles and unbalanced nutrition, and may suffer from mental problems such as depression due to loss of social roles and delays in adjustment.” may face.”

Tuesday’s report detailed several case studies, including a young student who had suffered from mental health problems and social problems since adolescence; She struggled to adjust to college, eventually choosing not to attend, and withdrawing further into herself.

Another student faced domestic violence and hunger at home – making it difficult for him to leave the house or interact with outsiders. None of the individuals have been identified.

The report also elaborates future plans for further action, such as distributing guidelines to local governments, strengthening youth social safety nets and early detection systems, and youth welfare facilities such as shelters or rehabilitation centers. Working more closely with

Some cities and local governments already have similar systems; Seoul, the nation’s capital, has a “reclusive youth support project” that provides mental health counseling, hobby development and work training, and life coaching for isolated youth.

This phenomenon is not unique to South Korea.

There is a similar problem in Japan, which has about 1.5 million single young people hikikomori, According to a recent government survey. Some go out only to buy groceries or for occasional activities, while others don’t even leave their bedrooms.

The phrase was coined in Japan in the early 1980s. Officials in that country have expressed increasing concern over the issue over the past decade, but Covid-19 has made things worse, the survey found.

Of those surveyed, more than a fifth cited the epidemic as an important factor in their sedentary lifestyle. Other common reasons cited were pregnancy, job loss, retirement and poor relationships.

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