The average lifespan of Koreans continues to rise, according to the 2008 Korean Health Data Report issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Koreans are now living 79.1 years, above the OECD average lifespan of 78.9 years. The data links longevity, among other things, to health care expenditure per capita. But South Korea goes against the trend. According to the report, Korea, with an above-average lifespan, ranks 28th out of the 30 OECD countries in terms of health care expenditures, based on GDP. Is Korea's diet the key contributor to longevity in the Land of the Morning Calm?
Korea has one of the smallest pool of doctors of the 30 OECD countries. Koreans live longer lives and spend far less on health care than other leading countries such as Japan. And although Japanese live slightly longer, they are spending significantly more public and private money on healthcare. While individual health care spending in Korea is rising, it remains below the OECD average and well below that of Japan. South Koreans also work more hours than all the members of the OECD. With elevated stress levels from longer work hours, why do Koreans require less health care while living longer lives?