By Lee Hyo-sik
The number of orphans adopted last year declined from a year ago, falling for the sixth consecutive year. But a greater number of orphans found a new family here than overseas for the first time.
Also, about 77 percent of elementary, middle and high school students studied at cram schools and other privately run learning institutes, spending a monthly average of 220,000 won. It took 11 months for high school and university graduates to land a job.
According to the National Statistical Office (NSO) Sunday, the number of Korean orphans adopted both at home and abroad stood at 2,652 in 2007, down from 3,231 a year earlier. It has decreased for the sixth straight year since 2001.
But more orphans were adopted by local families than by foreign ones last year for the first time. Local households adopted 1,388 orphans, accounting for 52.3 percent of the total, while 1,264 orphans, or 47.7 percent, found a new home in foreign countries.
The statistical office also said nearly 89 percent of elementary school students nationwide attended arts and other private educational institutes in 2007. It was 74.6 percent for middle school students and 62 percent for high school students.
Families spent an average of 220,000 won a month on private education. Households in Seoul set aside an average of 284,000 won a month for private education expenditure, 2.3 times the 121,000 won spent by households in rural areas.
It took 11 months on average for high school and university graduates to find jobs last year, down from 12 months in 2006. The ratio of those who found work within a year from graduation to total graduates rose to 74.9 percent from 74.2 percent a year ago.
About 28.1 percent of young adults aged 15-24 were participating in economic activities in 2007, down from 30.2 percent the previous year, as more youths continued to study at a higher level. Their jobless rate fell to 8.8 percent from 10 percent.
The statistical office also said among young people aged 5-24, 4.9 out of every 100,000 committed suicide in 2006, down from 6.4 a year earlier. A total of 664 youngsters killed themselves, or 1.8 every day.
Fewer Korean adolescents smoked cigarettes in 2007 than a year earlier. Sixteen percent of male high schools smoked last year, down from 20.7 percent a year ago, while the portion of female high school smokers to the total inched down to 5.2 percent from 5.3 percent.
The number of reported child abuse cases came to 8,903 in 2006, more than double that from a year earlier, the statistical office said.
Adolescents aged 15-19 spent two hours daily on average in front of their computers in 2007, while 88.2 percent of them had cellular phones. They read an average of 25 books last year.
Children and adolescents under 18 totaled 11.1 million, accounting for 22.9 percent of the country's entire population. It was down from 23.4 percent in 2007 and 23.8 percent in 2006.