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Pandemics beat crime as S.Koreans’ top social threat

By Nov 19, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

Pandemics and economic difficulty are cited as the biggest social risk factors by South Koreans, displacing crime and national security, which topped the list of social threats two years ago, according to a government survey.

In a poll of 38,000 South Koreans aged over 13, one third of the respondents, or 32.8%, picked pandemics as the top social threat, followed by economic difficulty at 14.9%, Statistics Korea said on Nov. 18. Crime ranked third at 13.2%.

The biennial survey was conducted between May 13 and 28, 2020 nationwide.

In comparison, in the 2018 poll, only 2.9% chose pandemics as the main social threat. Instead, crime was cited as the biggest social challenge, picked by 20.6%, with national security and environmental pollution at 18.6% and at 13.5%, respectively.

The 2020 survey results reflect the economic slowdown and shrinking job market caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, alongside soaring housing prices.


Despite increased concerns about pandemics and economic challenges, a larger number of respondents showed a positive attitude toward marriage compared to two years ago: 51.2% of the respondents said they feel the need to get married, up from 48.1% in 2018.

Previously, the survey showed a declining trend in the need to get married. This marked the first time in 12 years that more respondents responded positively to the question of marriage than they had in the previous survey, the statistical agency said in a statement.
In particular, 40.8% of single men polled said marriage is necessary, compared to 36.3% in 2018.

About six out of ten South Koreans, or 59.7% of the respondents, said couples can live together without being legally married, up from 56.4% in 2018.

Also expressed was an increased need for government involvement in providing care for elderly parents, with 61.6% saying care for the elderly should be shared between the family, the government and society, compared to 48.3% in 2018.

Half the respondents said their health is in good condition, with 37.5% worried about getting cancer.

Write to Jin-gyu Kang at

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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