At the opening ceremony of the Seoul Senior Center
Date: February 4, 2013
Venue: Seoul Senior Center
I am very pleased to be here for the opening of the Seoul Senior Center, which was made possible by the efforts of numerous people. In particular, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to many here at this ceremony today: Hwang In-han, chairman of the Korean Senior Citizens Association; Park Jong-hwa, honorary vice-mayor of Seoul; Kim Gi-ok, director of the Public Health and Welfare Committee of the Seoul Metropolitan Council; Ahn Yang-ho, chairman of the Government Employees Pension Service; and Park Yong-ju, president of the Korea Labor Force Development Institute for the Aged. I am also grateful for those who donated books and interior decorations for the Center.
There is no doubt that the development of medical technology and longer life expectancies have been a blessing for humankind. However, we are ill prepared for the future that lies ahead of us.
There are 1.1 million senior citizens living in Seoul, making up 10.8 percent of the city’s total population. In particular, as the baby boomer generation began retiring in 2011, the necessity for a comprehensive welfare plan for the elderly, including the young elderly of the baby boomer generation, has been growing.
I myself belong to the baby boomer generation, and I know quite well how diligently my friends, older brothers, and sisters have lived their lives—like “locomotives without a brake.” Born in a poor country, they have dedicated themselves solely to economic growth. But they can still work and want to continue to work. What a retirement!
What we want to do is to train and organize these people so they can find jobs again. This is what I did at the Happiness Planning Academy I ran at the Hope Institute, which was particularly appealing to seniors who retired from professional, high-income positions as it offered them a chance to contribute to the community. These seniors were actively involved in cooperatives and social enterprises, as they already knew how to create a business, and sometimes became mentors for young entrepreneurs. The Seoul Senior Citizen Employment Information Center aims to embrace the experience and passion of our senior citizens.
The Center will create jobs suitable for seniors, such as senior citizen center coordinators or physiotherapy specialists, and provide training and education as well.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to expand the Center by establishing five branches, including this one, in five zones spanning the 25 districts of Seoul.
The Declaration of the Rights of the Child has a motto, “Every Child is our Child.” Likewise, in our aging society, “Every Senior is Our Senior.” The future of senior citizens is the future of our society and of each of us. That’s why the happiness of senior citizens is a prerequisite for the happiness of our society. As such, the Seoul Senior Center will play a key role in achieving happiness for all.
Only if our senior citizens are healthy and happy can we, their children, be content with ourselves. So, we will do our best to ensure that Seoul becomes a city where our senior citizens can live in peace and happiness. Thank you.