The life expectancy of South Koreans in 2020 increased by 3.3 years compared to 10 years ago, ranking first among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The suicide mortality rate as of 2019 is still high in OECD, but it continued to decline, down 9.6 per 100,000 people from 10 years ago.
According to OECD Health Statistics 2022, the life expectancy of Koreans was 83.5 years in 2020, which topped OECD countries’ of average 80.5 years. This is 1.2 years longer than Japan’s 84.7 years. It is 3.3 years more than 80.2 years in 2009. As of 2019, Korea’s avoidable mortality was 147.0 per 100,000 people, lower than the OECD average of 215.2, including 135.7 preventable mortality and 79.5 amenable mortality. Avoidable mortality refers to mortality that can be prevented through disease prevention activities (preventable mortality) and death that can be prevented by timely medical treatment (amenable mortality).
In 2019, Korea’s suicide mortality rate hit the highest among OECD countries but has steadily declined. The suicide mortality rate per 100,000 people decreased from 35.3 in 2009 to 25.4 in 2019. The OECD average suicide mortality rate in 2019 was 11.1. Mexico was the lowest with 5.7 and the US was 14.7. Korea’s infant mortality rate in 2020 was 2.5 per 1,000 newborn children, 1.6 lower than the OECD average of 4.1.
Korea’s smoking rate (15.9 per cent) and annual alcohol consumption per person (7.9L) were similar to the OECD average, and the ratio of obesity and overweight, which are the main causes of chronic diseases, was the second-lowest among OECD countries with 37.8 per cent (15 years or older).