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Friday, November 04, 2005

collecting waste paper

Pressian has an article on old people collecting wastepaper to earn even a tiny income. It is stated that it'd be a new phenomenon, but I recall seeing a lot of that already in the 1990s before the crisis. Must be also the neighborhood in southern Seoul where I've resided, with relatively many poor old people as far as I know.
Many of the wastepaper collectors fall outside the government criteria for welfare recipients, like being owners of property like car or house or having children who are legally obliged to provide the livelihood.
Grandfather Im owns an apartment which he bought with his retirement pay. He lives there with his wife and two sons who both are handicapped and unable to work. The sons are provided some welfare assistance by the authorities, but the ownership of the apartment disqualifies Mr Im from being a recipient himself.
Grandfather Im is the head of his family responsible for its livelihood. He gives the impression of responsibility. He says he earns almost 10 000 won (8€) a day by collecting paper. As the price for waste paper is 50 won a kilo, it means he collects about 200 kilos a day, which is hard to imagine for his 65 years of age. For this, he leaves home early every morning and doesn't rest even on Sundays.

There are some who collect paper to get exercise or to be as small burden for their children as possible, but for the most of them it is an unavoidable means of livelihood.

How to put it - falling between the idea of Confucian filial piety that the official welfare policy maintains and the differentiation of generations and nuclear families and the lack of comprehensive welfare system (or even citizen's pension system).

What a lefty government the Republic of Korea has.

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Comments to note "collecting waste paper" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Anonymous Richardson> said on 5.11.05 : 

I always wondered how much those paper/cardboard collectors made. Sadly much less than I thought. But I suppose man-won per day could feed the Grandpa and his wife, in Korea anyway. I wonder when Korean retirement kicks in?


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