I've come to stay with the couple in Seoul, South Korea.
Their one and only son has grown up and moved out.
That means they have a lot of time on their hands.
They've converted their home into a guesthouse, and now host people from around the world, mostly through Airbnb, though they also get reservations from their website and through word-of-mouth.
Is this the Instagram spot?
Instagram spot, yes.
Sam and Young are some of the many retirees in Korea turning their spare bedrooms into home-sharing opportunities, so they can make some income, but more importantly, meet new people and find purpose through work.
Over the next three days, I'm staying with them to learn how hosting helps combat loneliness in a country with a dramatically aging population.
Yes - Ah, nice to meet you.
Hi, nice to meet you.
Just call me Sam.
It's my first time to Korea.
I can, I can get it.
Oh, no problem.
I'm still strong.
Welcome, hi, hi.
Nice to meet you, my name is Young.
This is my son.
I was immediately surprised at the warmth of Sam & Young.
It was certainly not like a business for them at all. It was really much more than that.
I took my wife to the top of the mountain and then I asked my wife to marry me, and I got permission from her.
So that mountain, that's the magic spot.
Sam and Young have invited me to go to lunch with them at a restaurant just near their house.
Sam spent his entire career at Hyundai Merchant Marine, which is one of the world's largest container shipping companies.
The older we get, the less we get a chance to meet young people.
He retired five years ago at 57.
From the guest house operation, I can listen to many foreigners' life story.
But he thinks retiring in your 50s or 60s is too early and that it should be done when someone reaches their 70s.
He says most of his friends who retire spend their time worrying about their future.
South Korea is facing an aging crisis. Its population is getting older and the birth rate is slowing.
South Korea is currently aging faster than any other developed country, and by 2050, more than a third of its population will be over the age of 65.
Many employers in South Korea are often reluctant to retain their older employees.
It's not uncommon to set a mandatory retirement age, sometimes as young as 55.
Crimes committed by the elderly in South Korea is also surging in part due to the rising elderly poverty rates and social isolation.
Meanwhile, countries like Japan and Singapore are also grappling with aging populations.
Come 2030, Singapore will raise its retirement age to 65, while Japan is planning to raise its retirement age from 65 to 70, or even 75.
JongHee works for Airbnb in South Korea and says the stereotype of a 'senior' is changing.
The world is changing, and the senior is also changing.
They have an open mind(ed).
They can become a very good Airbnb host to share their life.
Airbnb refers to people over 60 as 'active seniors.' It's the fastest-growing age group for Airbnb hosts.
Active seniors receive the most five-star reviews by their guests when compared to younger generation hosts.
Globally, 85% of reviews for senior hosts are five stars.
And it's a hot growing sector.
In the past 12 months, senior hosts in South Korea welcomed more than 350,000 guests, a whopping 75% increase from the previous year.
I see my father's generation, my mother's generation, they devoted their whole life to develop this country, but at the end of their senior lives, they are not very active and happy.
But if they have an opportunity for their second life, you share your wisdom with others, you share your life story in Korea with all foreigners.
She says Airbnb does little marketing to seniors, and they often find out about hosting through word-of-mouth.
I can communicate with young people from a foreign country.
I am happy.
Sam tells me that 10 years ago there was no concept of guest houses in South Korea, but now the idea is becoming increasingly popular.
It says 'guest house' here so is this competition?
No, no, collaboration.
A few years ago, their son Andy moved out.
The young generation all over the world, they don't want to get married and that's a problem.
Also they don't want to deliver their baby.
And even though they have their differences, Andy and his parents agree that hosting has been good for them.
Keeping themselves busy after retiring.
I think that's making them still young.
Andy could be right.
Researchers have found that being social is linked to improved health and even an extended life.
People with strong social relationships are 50% more likely to live longer.
I can't help but notice how social Sam & Young are, not just with me, but nearly everyone they see.
We just met the new neighbor!
Yeah, we have to welcome them.
Think she'll be a good neighbor?
So we just met a couple from Indonesia during our walk.
Sam told them about his guesthouse and even gave them a business card.
It's really neat to be able to go through a local neighborhood like this.
Even if I did discover something like this on a Google or TripAdvisor, I wouldn't have the local knowledge to actually see and hear the stories behind the town.
That wall is famous. That wall, see the wall, Hanyang?
You can always tell when someone lights up when they're doing something they love and I really got that sense.
Even though it was a lot of work, they took such pride in everything they did, and it was kind of inspiring actually.
Main purpose of our life is I would like to see my family members happy. That's my main purpose.
So many times we think of retirement as this big dream, that once we get to retirement we don't have to work, but seeing how enriched their life is because they now have a second chapter was really inspiring.
And it actually makes me think that maybe we're thinking of retirement in the wrong kind of way, of course, the idea of it providing financial freedom is great, but at the end of the day, work can provide so much meaning and purpose to people,and I think it was really evident in watching Sam and Young.
Hey guys, it's Uptin, thanks for watching.
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