Korean Elderly Are Open to Re-Marrying

luvsmiling, March 2, 2015, 10:22 a.m.

A new generation of single elderly people between 60 and 75 are actively seeking new partners, unlike the generation before them who often resigned themselves to loneliness.  In fact, this age group is the most positive about remarriage because they retain some conservative social and political values. 

In a survey by Statistics Korea last year, only six percent of people in their 20s replied that it is absolutely necessary or better to get married again after divorce or bereavement.  Fourteen percent of those in their 30s, 15 percent of those in their 40s, and 18 percent of those in their 50s gave the same answer.  But among people over 60, the proportion was 23 percent. 

A separate straw poll by the Chosun Ilbo and matchmaking company Sunwoo of 300 single elderly people produced similar result. About 45 percent were positive about finding a new partner after divorce or the death of spouse, and 40 percent viewed remarriage after the age of 60 positively.

Prof. Kwak Keum-joo at Seoul National University explained, "This age group who had at least 30 or 40 years of marriage knows more than anyone the importance of a life companion. This is why they are more open to the idea of remarriage." 

They often actively seek a new partner. Many meet their partners naturally through various activities provided by local welfare centers, and keep in touch with each other using Smartphone messenger apps, just like young people. 

The number of people between the age of 60 and 74 who are marrying again has been on the rise, from 1,851 in 1993 to 6,571 in 2013. They accounted for 6.3 percent of the total number of remarriages in 2013, a big increase from 2.6 percent in 1993. 

This drastic change is more noticeable among women, who used to be discouraged from remarrying by a patriarchal culture. The number of women between the age of 60 and 74 who got remarried was 2,079 in 2013, 5.4 times more than two decades ago. 

The biggest obstacle to remarriage is opposition from children, cited by 43 percent in the Sunwoo poll, while 25 percent picked inheritance issues. 

Young people seem to have double standards on the issue. They support their parent's relationship with new partner following divorce or death of spouse, but they are against the idea of remarriage because it could cost them their inheritance and complicate family relations. 

According to a poll by matchmaking company Duo among people in their 20s and 30s, 62 percent said they support a romantic relationship that their parent has, but 60 percent said they do not want them to get married again.

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