|▲ Images related to 'No Senior Zone' and the exclusion of the elderly (Source: Segye Ilbo)|
On the 8th, a photo of a cafe with a notice of, 'No Senior Zone (restricted access to senior citizens aged 60 or older),' was posted on an Internet community, sparking controversy over age discrimination. The netizen who posted the photo added, "I don't know what's going on, but I'm afraid my parents will see it while passing by." When photos of the cafe spread on various social media outlets, Internet users strongly criticized the cafe, showing reactions, such as, "If I get old, can't I pay for a cup of coffee?" and, "Picture posted on Parents' Day? I'm afraid of getting old." As the controversy grew, the cafe owner expressed her unfairness, explaining, "The elderly in the neighborhood who used the cafe called me a, 'prostitute,' and sexually harassed me. Even if I expressed my intention not to do so, they ignored it and visited every day. Therefore, I had to put up the notice." Despite this explanation, netizens are still arguing about whether the restriction on access to certain age groups is discrimination in the wake of the, 'No Senior Zone,' notice.
The, 'No Senior Zone,' which has recently become a subject of debate, is a variant of the, 'No Kids Zone,' that is now prevalent. For this reason, some Internet users pointed out that age exclusion has intensified as a result of tolerating No Kids Zones. The No Kids Zone, which restricts children's access depending on the choice of the business, has also been clearly divided since its first appearance in the past. While there were opinions that insisted on freedom and rights of businesses, emphasizing the damage caused by children and guardians' customers, there were opinions that strongly criticized the No Kids Zone as a social problem that advocates the exclusion of the vulnerable due to clear child discrimination. According to a 2021 Korea Research Regular Survey Poll, 71% of all 1,000 respondents said they could, "allow a No Kids Zone," and 17% said they could, "not allow a No Kids Zone." Despite the fact that the No Kids Zone has emerged as a social problem and that there has been a tense disagreement, there are currently more than 500 No Kids Zone businesses nationwide. In response, the Washington Post reported on the 12th that it is inappropriate to increase the number of No Kids Zones in Korea, where low birth is a problem, and Korea's National Human Rights Commission of Korea also recommended corrections to the No Kids Zone in 2017, saying that the right not to be punished takes precedence over freedom of business, but no legal sanctions related to the No Kids Zone have been prepared.
It is true that it is up to the owner of the business, who has the right to operate it, to choose who can enter their individual business. However, it is also something to be wary of when social dissatisfaction is expressed in the concept of punishment of, 'exclusion,' to an entire class. The No Kids Zone and No Senior Zone do not simply mean that the age group cannot enter some workplaces. A society that rejects caregivers and children will deepen the problem of low birth rates, and a reduction in the radius of behavior of the elderly will have a chain effect of increasing the burden of support for the entire society.
The act of excluding social members by considering them as problematic beings inevitably leads to social conflict. Following the No Kids Zone and No Senior Zone, 'No Zone,' which will exclude another target, will justify the perception of rejecting others to fix generational conflicts throughout society. Instead of simply focusing on preventing the spread of the, 'No Zone,' culture, efforts should be made to grow civic awareness so that all ages can reflect on their attitudes in line with social changes; finding ways to coexist by examining the root cause of the problem.
By Seo Ji-min, reporter email@example.com
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