Rising Unemployment Leads to Korea’s Kangaroo Families

Article from Herald Business:

Rising Number of Unemployed 30 Year Olds in “Kangaroo Family”…Half of Children Living with their 60 Year Old Parents

kangaroo family south korea unemployment children parents

The number of 30 year olds in “kangaroo families” who live off their parents, or are not financially independent, is rising during the worst unemployment crisis in history.

Parents who look after their “grown-up children” are constantly thinking, “it will be hard for our children to have a better life than us.”

According to statistics from the recent “Seoul Citizens’ Hopes for Elderly Life” report, 45.2% of those in their 60s live with their children. One out of two of those older than 60 live with their children.

39.7% of children who live with their parents answered “economic and health reasons make it impossible to be independent.”

Almost half of people older than 60 (46.5%) live with their children “to support them,” including 6.8% who said they were living with their children “to support them with their grandchildren’s upbringing and housework.”

Thirty-two year old Mr. A graduated from a university in Seoul, but has been unable to find a job in this unemployment crisis, and is part of a kangaroo family. He eats “food prepared for him by his mom” and occasionally takes “his dad’s car” out. From time to time, Mr. A works a part-time job to earn spending money, and is preparing to take a certification test. Marriage is still a far thought for Mr. A, who is still not independent from his parents because of economic and psychological reasons.

One housewife in her fifties who lives with her employed thirty year old son said, “My son has just started working, so he hasn’t saved up any money yet” and “Since he needs to save money for marriage and work hard, I’m helping him with all his living expenses, and if he needs to go out, I let him use my husband’s car.”

As the elderly are looking after their children, there is no one to look after them.

A considerable number of parents with children who are unemployed or who have just started working are part of the “Baby Boomer” generation born between the mid 1950’s to the early 60s. It is estimated that of the 710,000 Baby Boomers, many are are not prepared for their old age.

Parents are taking responsibility for their dependent children, but there is a slow decline in childrens’ sense of responsibility towards supporting their parents.

According to a recent report by the Korea Development Institute (KDI) titled, “The Role that Families, the Government, and Society Have in Social Security,” in response to the question ‘Who is responsible for taking care of aging parents?’ the percentage of people who answered “their families have to look after them” decreased by more than half from 2002 (70.7%) to 2014 (31.7%).

KDI Finance and Welfare Policy Researcher Kim Hwi-sam said, “Parents in this generation are not able to see their children live independently, and rather than putting money towards providing for themselves in their old age, they tend to spend all that money on their children’s education, while the younger generation is establishing a rational culture where they focus on their own responsibilities.” “Parents today are the last generation that will support and live with their parents and there is a high possibility of it becoming a generation where parents will not get support from their children.”

Comments from Naver:


Sorry mom and dad…


Do you know how many years it will take you to buy a house on your own even if you work at a big company?…It’s better to live with your parents while saving money.


There are many 40 year olds in kangaroo families.


I’m really sorry to my parents..I will definitely succeed and be a good filial child.


Cheer up…it’s difficult for everyone.


When I was young, I didn’t envision my thirties to be like this…


“It’s Youth Because It Hurts” is such a garbage book fit for kindling…the writer was born with a gold spoon in his mouth so he never lacked for anything and didn’t encounter any difficulties so he has never faced reality and thus wrote this crap book. It’s still on the bestseller list at the bookstore, but shouldn’t we boycott it?


As we get older, it becomes a burden to live off of our parents, and we are in a rush to find a job, and we end up working at a weird workplace, waste time, and then leave the company…there are a lot of young people stuck in this vicious cycle.


They say Westerners have a strong sense of independence, so from early on, they become independent without help from their parents. But in my opinion, they seem to have a strong economy, and there are plenty of jobs, such that you can make enough to live on even if you don’t graduate from college, and you have certain amenities. So their society as a whole was able to emphasize the value of independence. But recently, they’re having a hard time too, so there is an increasing number of people relying on their parents. They are probably similarly jealous of those with wealthy parents. Compared to Westerns, Koreans do not have as strong a need for independence, but this is not intrinsic, it’s just become this way because of social and economic factors.


My dad always says if I move out, I’ll have to spend a lot of money…


If we raised our hourly wages like Japan, I would work a part-time job like hell and live by myself from a young age keke It’s a vicious cycle because the wage is pathetic while our cost of living remains high ke

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  • MeiDaxia

    These are surprisingly even-tempered responses to this topic. I’m impressed. I wouldn’t expect this kind of reaction from a report on the topic in the USA.

  • chucky3176

    A) You don’t need money to get married. At least in most countries outside of Korea. It’s practically only in Korea where the institution of marriage is tied to how much money you have.

    B) Western countries have lots of jobs? LOL… what planet is that person from who wrote that? Yeah in Korea they don’t have any jobs, so that’s why Korea need to import 100,000 new foreigners every year to fill the plethora of vacant positions just because they are manual labors, and not office jobs. The labor shortages are so acute, the experts say many SME companies are closing down.

    C) In the West, young couples start out as poor couples, they start out by living in rental housing with monthly rents. Then the couple work at poorly paid jobs, save up their money, get better jobs as they gain experience, and then move into a better place or they buy their own place with the help of the banks.

    D) In Korea on the other hand, young couples expect to own their new homes, drive a fancy car, and hubbies already established and working at Chaebol dream jobs AS SOON AS they’re married. If you don’t already have these set up, then you can’t get married. And it’s always with the help of their parents who has to give their kids the new house, new car, new furniture, on top of having to educate the kids.

    E) In the West, if they can’t find the job they’re looking for, they’ll take jobs that are low paying. And if they can’t find even low paying jobs, or they’re financially struggling, that’s when they move in with their parents as an absolute last resort.

    F) Korea on the other hand, grown kids stay and live with their parents at least until they get married. That could be well after 30 years old. If they can’t find a job they’re looking for, they’ll postpone their college graduations as long as they can, and continue to live with their parents until that big company Chaebol dream job from Samsung comes along. Going to work for small/medium size companies working for 2 million a month? No way, not even when the hell freezes over. Then they have the audacity to whine ‘there are no jobs in Korea’. Get off your goong-dengi’s, pick up that shovel and do some real hard work for a change. Why should Korean parents spoon feed you people forever?

    • redwhitedude

      A) You mean that Korea is far more blatant than other countries. Other countries people do factor it but not as blatantly as Korea.
      B)Well other countries people tend to shun certain jobs but in Korea it tends to be “codified” as a 3D job. But this isn’t only a Korea only thing in Asia. It also depends on the socioeconomic situation in a country. Like people in Korea generally will not do what their grandparents did for a living unless their grandparents had whitecollar job to begin with.
      C)True. Koreans need to learn to be more modest and marriage and family is not something that comes ready made with money.
      D)It’s a country that has gotten spoiled in that regard.
      F)Sky high housing prices do factor into that. But it isn’t a Korea only thing. I hear about the living with parents thing in Europe too.

      • chucky3176

        F) Koreans are very reluctant to go for the monthly rental agreements because they don’t like the fact that they are losing money every month. Compared to most countries in the west, the monthly rentals are fairly low. The reason for sky high housing is the fact that if Koreans must rent, they prefer the lump sum Jeonsae deposit system in which they are only losing interest monies, and they get back the entire deposit at the end of their rental terms. But with very low national interest rates, the landlords are charging deposits that are almost high as the cost of the homes. The Jeonsae system is increasingly becoming costly, and it’s the reason why the sky high housing prices.

        • redwhitedude

          Koreans should start refusing such a system and insist on other arrangements.

    • Black_Plague

      No wonder my parents often say that people in Korea during the 1980s seemed a lot happier with their lives, even though it was under a military dictatorship at the time.

      Granted, those were different times when the economy was skyrocketing and people were willing to work a hell lot harder to make a better living.

      • redwhitedude

        Yeah. Koreans have gotten prouder but this is the wrong side of it.

      • David

        I lived in Korea in the 80’s both before and after democracy (85, 86 & 88, 89) and people were both poorer and happier with what they did have. But it was the same for my father’s generation who grew up during the great depression in the U.S. The kids of today (even the ones I am teaching in middle and high school still) only know what they have been told their whole lives. Which is if they listened to their parents and studied hard they could go to/graduate from a great university, get that great job, marry the pretty girl, buy a great house, have two great kids (first a boy and three years later a girl) and make lots of money to travel around the world while they take care of their parents and pay for their children’s education.

        • redgirls

          Wow, that sounds almost identical to the irish dysphoria.

  • x1sfg

    I told you, I didn’t want salmon! This wedding is horse shit!

    You can call me, Dragon.

  • Z Kim

    This is one reason why 800+ defectors have moved back North.

    • nils

      Whats the reason why thousands risk their life to escape the north.

    • redwhitedude

      That many? What’s your source?

  • commander

    I think late career start is a worldwide occurence. The emergence of automation, knowledge economy and deepening and widening free trade on a global scale have curtailed simple labor and has demand workers with creativity and originality.

    S. Korea, whose economy have flourished on exports of hardware things such as automibiles, mobile phones and other home appliances, stands at a crossroads for software-fueled growth.

    Not to be outdone in the Internet of things era, corporate Korea should make massive investment in fostering visionaries who will develop a next big thing despite growing uncertainty that many CEOs routinely bring up as a reason for reluctance in making investments.

    Granted, corporations alone could not cope with the task of identifying future growth engine for the nation. The government and colleges alike need to pitch in cultivating creative talents that knowledge economy requires.

  • Korean Peninsula

    You mean one child family. WTF is Kangaroo family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Korean Peninsula

    Problem with Koreans. Koreans cannot adopt to change in fast pace like 500 year old Chosun Dynasty. Perfect example, North Korea.

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