Many residents here are married couples who used to do farm work in the rural areas and came here after getting older, said Lee Duck-young (77), head of residents association at the Comprehensive Welfare Town for Seniors in Kimje City in North Jeolla Province. When they arrived, most of them were in poor health and weary-looking, but after a year or so, their complexions brightened up and became fairer, said Lee, smiling. He claimed that the elderly coming to this town can enjoy longer lives as the town is comfortable, relaxing, and relatively low-priced.
Your correspondent visited six charged senior towns nationwide, and surprisingly, none of them bore the impression of bleak and isolated mass accommodations. Most residents looked cheerful and contented.
As an increasing number of financially stable workers retire every year, interest in silver towns is mounting. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of silver towns in Korea was 35 in 2003 but jumped to 49 (capacity of 4,100 persons) within a year in 2004. Many local governments around the country including Seocheongun in South Chungcheong Province, Jinangun in North Jeolla Province, Gokseonggun in South Jeolla Province, and Yeongwolgun in Gangwon Province are constructing or considering construction of senior towns. In addition, various religious groups and the private companies are also putting hands to this business. In several years, the number of silver towns in Korea is expected to hit 100 or more.
However, it is not simple for retirees to choose the right town for them or distinct good ones from bad ones. First thing they should consider is the location of the silver town if it is in the inner city area, suburbs or rural area, and which is most suitable for them. As charges vary greatly according to location and services, it is also important to make a cost-effective choice.
If you consider moving to a senior town, you must learn about the organization in charge and its long-term credibility above all, said Lee Sun (49), the director of Yudang senior town in Suwon City, Gyeonggi Province.