South Korea : Seniors Persona Non Grata in some coffee shops

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The issue has been stirring up social media for several days now : in South Korea, a coffee shop is refusing entry to customers over the age of 60. Some establishments have established “no senior zones.” This practice, already common for children, could now be extended to seniors, raising concerns about discrimination and ageism among a portion of the population.

No Senior Zone : Ageism Made in Korea !

The controversy emerged online when a coffee shop displayed a sign reading “no senior zone,” indicating that individuals over the age of 60 were not allowed entry. Despite reactions on the internet, many regular customers of the coffee expressed agreement with the measure. They justified the decision by claiming that senior customers were too noisy, unpleasant, and occupied tables for hours while consuming very little. The announcement sparked further outrage among internet users when they noticed a sign next to the ban on seniors stating that guide dogs were allowed inside the establishment.

While this measure only applies to a few establishments in the country, it could become more popular, similar to the case with children. Many restaurants, coffee shops, museums, and even public buildings have made the decision to restrict children from entry. The population seems to largely support this measure, with 73% of Koreans surveyed by Hankook Research expressing approval for these zones. Although there are no laws officially endorsing these exclusions, the fact that the government validates the prohibition of access to public buildings based on age implies that individuals can be legitimately excluded from society solely due to their age. This opens the door to all kinds of excesses.

South Korea : Seniors Forgotten

South Korea is currently facing a demographic shock, an ill-prepared situation in which seniors are the main victims. As of the end of 2022, 66% of Korean retirees continued to work to meet their needs. These figures are a direct result of a flawed retirement policy. The minimum pension of 218€ (238$) is insufficient to cope with the country’s highest inflation rate since 1998 and the Asian financial crisis. Additionally, there is a high level of poverty and insecurity among seniors. In a report from 2022, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated that 52% of South Koreans aged 66 and older live below the poverty line. This rate is three times higher than in other developed countries.

Senior coréen perception de classe

The current economic situation is not expected to improve in South Korea. There is a significant discrepancy between the existing retirement system and the country’s economic reality. Initially implemented in 1988, when the country was experiencing strong economic growth, the South Korean system failed to anticipate demographic changes and population decline. In 2022, South Korea recorded its lowest birth rate ever, with only 0.82 children per woman. According to the OECD, by 2050, the country could have 5 million fewer inhabitants, with a significant increase in the elderly population.

In response to this situation, economists agree on the need to raise the retirement age. This reform aims to ensure retirement funding and fill the increasing number of vacant positions. The South Korean government is exploring solutions to stimulate birth rates but is also considering adopting an immigration policy.

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