‘Living wills’ signed by 1.5 million Koreans
Nearly 1.5 million Koreans have chosen to forgo life-prolonging treatment since the country legalized the right to die with dignity, government data showed Sunday.
According to the National Agency for Management of Life-Sustaining Treatment on Sunday, 1,464,474 people have signed an advance care directive, the Korean equivalent of a living will, as of the end of September. This is about three percent of Korea’s population.
An advance care directive is a document that refuses life-sustaining treatments such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), a blood transfusion or use of a respirator once they become terminally ill. It can be made by any person over 18.
In 2018, when Korea legalized the right to die with dignity, the number of people who signed such directives was 105,529. The next year, 432,138 signed them, 257,526 in 2020 and 368,392 in 2021.
Not surprisingly, family sentiment was an important factor in people signing the directives, according to a survey published by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs on Sept. 30.
According to the survey of 182 adult cancer patients in a hospital in Gyeonggi from March to September 2021, the effect of the family on the decision-making process over whether to accept life-sustaining treatment was the most important, getting 2.91 points on a 4-point scale.
The survey also found that patients with well-functioning families were more positive about opting to die without receiving any further medical treatment.
In addition, the higher the family adaptability — meaning opinions and roles are shared well between family members — the more likely patients were to forgo life-sustaining treatment.
BY SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]