Gov’t criticized for lacking data on socially withdrawn people

SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) � A lawmaker criticized the government Monday for failing to care for socially withdrawn people, even lacking basic data on them.

Known as “hikikomori” in Japan, those who hole up in their homes and avoid social contact have become a social problem here.

According to a report submitted to Rep. Kwon Mi-hyuk of the ruling Democratic Party by the National Assembly Research Service, the government has no statistics of its own on the number of such people.

The only data available is a private study conducted in 2005 that estimated the number at between 300,000 to 500,000. The number could exceed 1 million if school dropouts and Internet and game addicts are included, a doctor who joined the research said.

The lawmaker said there have been no measures planned and carried out by related ministries and local governments.

Kwon called on the government to conduct research and programs to support them as soon as possible.

“There is a need for cooperation among local communities and government agencies involved in welfare, youth counseling and Internet addiction. The National Assembly should also work to provide institutional support,” she said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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