Over the past century, the population of Korea has aged rapidly as a result of decreasing fertility and mortality. Furthermore, the percentage of the population aged 65 and older is expected to double from 7% to 14% within 18 years, a much shorter doubling period than in most other developed countries. As Korean society ages, interest in healthy and successful ageing has increased. However, although previous studies have examined various determinants of successful ageing, such as socioeconomic status, gender differences have been neglected. This study investigated gender differences as factors in successful ageing among elderly men and women. Successful ageing has been defined as having high levels of physical and social functioning. Physical functioning includes having no difficulties with activities of daily living (ADL) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). Social functioning is defined as participation in at least one of the following social activities: paid work, religious gatherings or volunteer service. Data for this study were obtained from a representative sample of 761 community-living individuals aged 65–84 years (340 males, 421 females); the respondents were interviewed face-to-face as part of the third wave of the Hallym Ageing Study (2007). Socioeconomic status appears to have a greater gender-specific effect on physical functioning than on social functioning. Especially for elderly men, a higher monthly individual income was significantly related to a higher level of physical functioning. Among elderly women, a higher level of education was associated with a higher level of physical functioning. In a major metropolis, elderly men had low social functioning and elderly women had low physical functioning. As Korea's population ages, successful ageing has received much attention. This study shows that policies promoting successful ageing must consider gender differences and associated socioeconomic factors.