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If you’re like me, you have seen and dealt with a lot of older Korean people.  Interestingly, many older Koreans seem to be in better health than older Americans.  In fact, you may be shocked at the difference in life expectancy.  If you Google average life expectancy South Korea, it will show you that a chart that shows the average Korean lives to be 81.37 years in the year 2012.  (North Korea is listed at 69.5 years in comparison.)  But if you Google the stats for the United States, it shows the average life expectancy for the same time period was 78.74 years.  (Canada and the United Kingdom posted life expediencies similar to that of the Republic of Korea.)  So if the United States is the most advanced country in the world, why do it’s citizens have a lower life expectancy by several years than other countries?  Here are a few reasons why the average Korean in South Korea will live longer than the average American.


People in the United States do exercise.  Many have a membership at a gym, or have workout equipment at home.  But many Koreans take exercise more seriously.  If you have traveled along the Han River, you may have seen areas where a person can go and workout at almost any time.  Even at night time, these areas are well lit and you will see people exercising at 10:00 p.m.  (Or at 2200 KST.)  What about Korean Americans?  Many of them take exercise very seriously as well.  Some retired Korean American women spend most of their days at the gym or at church.  Some are known to spend up to 4-5 hours a day at the gym with their friends to work out.  Indeed, these women take their workout routine very seriously.

Means of Transportation

If you have traveled in Seoul, you know that many people have cars and drive wherever they have to go.  However, a lot of people will walk to wherever they have to go.  What if you take the bus or a subway?  You still have to walk to the bus stop or the subway line.  Subway stations are known for having a lot of steps that you have to go up and down to get to the train.  Combine this with carrying groceries or a baby, and you get quite a workout.  The lesson?  If you go to Korea, bring your walking shoes.  Even if you do not take exercise seriously, you’ll be getting some form of it everyday.


Traditional Korean diet has a lot of vegetables in it.  In fact, many times you will have more vegetables side dishes than meat with your meal.  Kimchi, a staple of Korean food, is actually rated as one of the healthiest foods in the world.  The bacteria contained in kimchi is said to have prevented Koreans from getting SARS virus a few years ago.  What about the meat in Korea?  While many do not think of Korean meat as being the same quality as what is found in Japan, Korean meat is considered to be healthier than meat in the United States.  Many Korean Americans comment that Korean fried chicken is smaller and tastier than fried chicken in the United States.  Why is this?  Because Korean chickens are not given the hormones and antibiotics that chickens are given in the United States.  Korean beef is also usually raised and fed differently than beef in the United States, making it healthier.

Korean is changing, and the traditional values and way of life that Koreans have held on to for generation after generation is slowly fading as Korea becomes more and more Westernize.  However, the core values and differences between Korean life and life in other places continues to allow Koreans to live longer lives.  Sometimes, it’s not about science and medicine, it’s about just living a well balanced lifestyle.  But no matter who you are or where you live, you can live a long and healthy life.  So cherish today, enjoy tomorrow and have a happy and bright future.