The rate of violent crime committed by those over 65 in South Korea increased 40 percent from 2011 to 2013, which experts link to the prevalence of poverty and illness among the elderly.
While there was a 9.6 percent increase in the number of seniors in Korea during this period, the overall number of crimes committed by this age group rose 12.2 percent. In 2013, there were 77,260 cases recorded. Meanwhile, crime rates in other age groups either declined or remained at the same level.
The increase was even more severe in terms of violent crimes, which include murder, robbery, rape, and arson. According to a report by the Korean National Police Agency, there were 759 violent crimes committed by the elderly in 2011, which jumped to 1062 in 2013.
The report says that most crimes were committed on impulse, while other less common motivators included curiosity and temptation.
This rise is blamed partially on the suffering of the elderly due to pervasive poverty and illness in this age group. Korea has the highest rate of elderly poverty out of the 34 developed countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In Korea, 48.6 percent of seniors overall, and 74 percent who live alone, are categorized as poor.
In addition, according to a 2014 survey of 10,451 elderly by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 89.2 percent of seniors suffer from chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, arthritis, and diabetes. 33.1 percent of Korean seniors suffer from depression, and 10.9 percent said they have considered suicide.
Experts say that elderly crime could be reduced if the government strengthened the social security net and helped seniors acquire housing and jobs.