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The Peninsula

Seoul Focuses Support on Young Adults

Published April 30, 2022

On April 25, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced a policy to subsidize public transportation fees for 19–24-year-olds. This plan is part of a broader strategy to support youths as they transition from high school to university and early careers. This marks the public sector’s heightened focus on the economic concerns of a cohort that is not traditionally defined as an interest group such as children and working adults.

South Korea’s Youth Basic Law defines young people as those aged 9-24, but those aged 19-24 receive fewer benefits and support from the government. People aged between 19 and 39 make up for 30% of Seoul’s population according to officials, but the country’s Youth Welfare Support Laws currently only cover youth ages 9-18 with discounts on public transportation. As a consequence, the price of riding on the bus or metro increases by 66% when people turn 19. In this context, Seoul’s proposed change to transportation fees will have a major impact on the lives of young people in the city.

The subsidy extension for 19-24-year-olds is part of a broader campaign that Seoul is pursuing to support the youth. During his inauguration speech last year, Mayor Oh Se-hoon pledged to make Seoul a “city of hope” for young people. In addition to subsidizing transportation fees, there are also plans to supply public housing for youth and provide money for business start-ups, rent assistance, moving expenses, and online content such as software downloads, thesis research, and e-book purchases. Overall, the plan includes 50 support projects and is projected to cost around USD 5 billion, significantly more than the mayor’s original announcement.

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Kayla Harris, David Lee, Sarah Marshall, and Mai Anna Pressley. Picture from the flickr account of gunman47

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