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07/16/2018 Interview > Faculty

Title

Population Problems of the Aging Korean Society

Professor Lee Sam-sik (Department of Policy Science) as the director of the Institute of Aging Society

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Hanyang University's Institute of Aging Society, according to Professor Lee Sam-sik (Department of Policy Science), has a lot of advantages as an academic institute with such an interest. Having Lee as the director, the institute was established in 2008 and has been dedicated to conducting research regarding today's aging society problems in Korea. This week, Lee spoke about the role of the institute and the ongoing population problem regarding the aging society in South Korea.
 
Professor Lee Sam-sik (Department of Policy Science), the director of the Institute of Aging Society at Hanyang University, explained the research in progress at the institute on July 13th, 2018.
 

The main goal of the Institute of Aging Society is to fuse the field of engineering with that of humanities and social science to achieve social innovation. This institution strives to realize “active aging,” which is intended to “inform discussion and the formulation of action plans that promote healthy and active aging,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
 
There are six subsidiary research organizations of the Institute of Aging Society and Lee is the representative of the population strategy research group. This organization often forms a study group of external associations to develop and suggest the nation’s policies, vision, and strategy. The smart health aging research group involves the engineering field, where it is put to use in order to solve problems that the elderly face. The fruits of this group will increase the quality of people’s lives domestically, and motivate the growth of the international market. The advanced wellndess research group focuses on studies of exercise, food, and nutrition. Humans' taste organs degrade the most as they age. This group researches ways that the brain can register unsavory food as something delicious, or to protect the elderly from the damage of a fall, by developing textiles that act as an airbag. “Just like Spiderman’s clothing,” he smiled while he explained the logic of the idea. The lifecare research group conducts studies on ways to handle emergency situations. Age-friendly cities and communities research group targets making the whole city senior-friendly. Last but not least, the “third age” (referring to the 30 years after the age 40) research group conducts further research on leisure and the cultural life of the seniors.
 
From 2006, the Korean government started to implement policies to supplement the nation’s low birth rate and the rapidly aging society in Korea. Lee emphasized the importance to strengthen not only the field of engineering but field of humanities and social sciences at Hanyang University.  “The fusion of those two studies will not only bring important contributions to society but will also bring practical and creative solutions to population problems that our generation faces today,” said Lee.
 
The gist of the population problem is that the growth rate of senior citizens is increasing at an unprecedented speed while there are increasingly fewer of the younger generations to support them. The average age of senior citizens is increasing, with most of them being 80 or older. In addition, households with a senior citizen living alone is increasing as well. The engineering departments have come up with the idea of creating big data by using a sensor to detect all circumstantial behaviors of the elderly. This way, it would be easier to spot any abnormal behavior and prevent accidents from happening.  
 
Professor Lee Sam-sik emphasized the importance of fusion research of diverse fields in pursuit of solving the problems that Korean society faces due to its rapidly aging population.
“The way to handle the fast approach of an aging society is to resolve population problems. This is not something that can be solved at once, so we must look into and ameliorate things that we can handle for now. As we live in a time where human beings can live up past age 100, the balance between money, health, and civilized living for the elderly has become more important than ever. The government and institutions like the Institute of Aging Society at Hanyang University should make greater efforts to lessen the burden that the younger generation holds to support their elders, while seeking optimal welfare for the senior citizens.”


 
 
Kim Hyun-soo           soosoupkimmy@hanyang.ac.kr
Photos by Park Geun-hyung
 

 
 
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