Life insurers spread 'spirit of sharing'
By Kim Jae-won
Korean life insurance companies are working to help spread a respect for life culture in the country, taking part in a wide range of activities from supporting patients of rare and incurable diseases to promoting suicide prevention projects, an association of the businesses said Wednesday.
Korea Life Insurance Association (KLIA) said that 18 member companies of the organization agreed to donate a combined 1.5 trillion won over two decades, a lifeline which will be used to help the underprivileged.
“We have been committed to joint social corporate responsibility activities since November 2007. It is a new paradigm that a whole industry takes part in the same project through a welfare foundation,” said the association in a statement.
As part of the activities, the association pays some medical expenses for patients and families of rare and incurable diseases. The KLIA says that it seeks to demonstrate a respect for life, as a basis of its business with the project. According to Korean Organization for Rare Diseases, about 500,000 patients are suffering from about 110 rare and incurable diseases across the country.
A suicide prevention program is another project which the association emphasizes. It provides counseling services for people who are tempted to attempt suicide and takes care of family members who lose loved ones when they kill themselves.
The association says suicide is a serious social problem which destroys families and has a devastating effect on communities. Korea is notorious for its high suicide rate of 31 cases per 100,000 people. The country leads all other advanced nations in the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation in the frequency of deaths by suicide.
The association is also reaching out to patients with Alzheimer’s disease in low-income families. It runs a welfare program for the patients and their families as well as supporting research for prevention of the disease.
The life insurers also lend seed money to young entrepreneurs at low interest rates. They offer up to 20 million won to youths who want to run their own businesses with 2 percent of interest rate and a four-year maturity period.
The association also provides low-interest loans to college students for their tuition and living expenses. The insurers set aside 20 billion won of funds for the project which offers a 3.9 percent interest rate.
Parents of premature babies also can get help from the association for their medical expenses. The association said it is concerned about the low childbirth rate in Korea and spares no effort to boost it.