South Korea's silver job fairs

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JEB SHARP: I'm Jeb Sharp. This is The World. Many retirees are finding it necessary to keep on working. That's true here and in many other countries. In South Korea retirees can attend what are called "Silver Fairs". These are job fairs sponsored by local governments that offer work for people over 60. Jason Strother dropped by one of the fairs in the South Korean city of Daejeon which, by the way, is the answer to our Geo Quiz.

JASON STROTHER: A chorus of young women greets everyone passing through the doors of the Hanbat gymnasium in the city of Daejeon. The Silver Jobs Fair is just getting underway and already there are several hundred seniors who have shown up to find work. Inside the arena, old fashioned Korean pop music blares as job seekers visit booths set up by employment agencies. Organizers say there are about 2,300 jobs on offer. These jobs are just for the elderly. Most are part time and don't require much in the way of computer skills. Sixty-four year old Park Gwi Sun has been coming here every year since she retired from her job in Daejeon's transportation department.

INTERPRETER: I just can't stay at home. I need to do something just for my health. I came here together with my friends and we were all able to get jobs.

STROTHER: In Park's case, she's starting work as a cleaning lady. Job seekers like Park are getting help from college student volunteers at the Silver Fair. Moon Ho Jin came here with some of his classmates. We help the seniors with their resumes, Moon says. And then if they want more specific information, we take them over to the job booths. At the job booths seniors sit down with employment agents like Kim Jung Su. She has a list of openings, some of the subsidized by the government. Today Kim is looking for people to do light delivery work or read to children. Kim says she's happy to have older applicants for these kinds of jobs. Older people have more experience and time to read to young children, Kim says. Young job seekers wouldn't want these types of jobs anyway because the pay is low and the contracts only last seven months. Still, some seniors aren't having much luck finding work here. Bang Bok Yong is sitting alone at a plastic picnic table staring at a jobs brochure. The 65-year-old says his options are limited because of a disability and he's having trouble making ends meet.

INTERPRETER: I need to earn money. I have to support my wife. Our children don't give us any help. I need to find a job so I can pay our taxes.

STROTHER: Bang's situation is not uncommon. Korean society is changing. Korea's elderly are less and less likely to live with their extended families and they can't always rely on them for support. That's according to Song Saeg Geun, director of Daejeon city's senior welfare division. he adds that people are living longer and the cost of living is rising, so working after retirement is becoming a reality for many South Koreans. Surveys have shown that 40% of seniors are not economically ready for retirement he says. And most Korean companies force their employees to quit once they turn 60. Song says lawmakers are now considering raising that age limit. That way, Koreans can hold on to their careers a little longer and the government won't have to pay out as much in pensions. Those pensions amount to about $400.00 a month. Bu some seniors say working through retirement isn't such a bad thing. Seventy-two-year-old Cho Young Sun thinks his first visit to the Silver Jobs fair was pretty successful. He says retired life for Koreans was a lot tougher before the government started offering some assistance. But now, he at least can earn some extra money to travel or to go out with his friends. Cho just dropped off his resume for a couple security guard jobs. For The World, I'm Jason Strother, Daejeon, South Korea.