Accepted Paper:

Preparing for a "happy ending": debates on end-of-life treatment and the well-dying movement in South Korea  


Hyunsoo Hong (University of Tokyo)

Paper short abstract:

In this presentation, I will elucidate how elderly Koreans define and encounter death by examining current debates on end-of-life treatment and the nationwide “well-dying” movement.

Paper long abstract:

As of September 2013, 12.2% of the South Korean population was over 65 years old, qualifying the country as an aging society. By the year 2027, Statistics Korea estimates that this figure will reach 21% making the country a super-aging society. As the aging population increases, the elderly became more interested in how to prepare for death. On May 21, 2009, the South Korean Supreme Court approved, for the first time, the cessation of treatment for a brain-damaged elderly woman on life support. Since then, the so-called "Grandma Kim" case has triggered nationwide interest in the well-dying movement, which includes advanced medical and funeral directives, care and instruction from "well-dying" directors, and commercial acts toward the public.

This presentation examines how the elderly define and encounter death by investigating the well-dying movement in South Korea. In particular, this analysis investigates how Korea's aging population views the movement and elucidates its benefits based on recent discussions of the end-of-life treatment in Korean society.

Panel P027
Considering ideas and practices to create "age-friendly communities" (NME/Commission on Aging and the Aged panel)