Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Korean grandmothers who sell sex

Lucy Williamson
June 9, 2014.

Koreans could once be sure that their children would look after them in their old age, but no longer - many of those who worked hard to transform the country's economy find the next generation has other spending priorities. As a result, some elderly women are turning to prostitution.

Kim Eun-ja sits on the steps at Seoul's Jongno-3 subway station, scanning the scene in front of her. The 71-year-old's bright lipstick and shiny red coat stand out against her papery skin.

Beside her is a large bag, from which comes the clink of glass bottles as she shifts on the cold concrete.

Mrs Kim is one of South Korea's "Bacchus Ladies" - older women who make a living by selling tiny bottles of the popular Bacchus energy drink to male customers.

But often that's not all they're selling. At an age when Korean grandmothers are supposed to be venerated as matriarchs, some are selling sex.

"You see those Bacchus Ladies standing over there?" she asks me. "Those ladies sell more than Bacchus. They sometimes go out with the grandpas and earn money from them. But I don't make a living like that.

"Men do proposition me when I'm standing in the alleyway," she adds. "But I always say, 'No.'"

Mrs Kim says she makes about 5,000 Won ($5, or £3) a day selling the drinks. "Drink up fast," she says. "The police are always watching me. They don't differentiate."

The centre of this underground sex trade is a nearby park in the heart of Seoul. Jongmyo Park is a place where elderly men come to while away their sunset years with a little chess and some local gossip.
Read the rest here.
Comment: Very sad story told against the backdrop of destructive capitalism.

I was thinking as I read this article that the opulence of South Korea extends everywhere.  Not a day goes by in motor journalism without mention of the rise of Korean manufacturers Hyundai and Kia.

And what about Samsung phones and televisions?

We are inundated by the progress of capitalism South Korean style.

Yet here is an isolated article that tells of the weight of capitalist collapse.  A weight once drawn by the very elderly women who must now endure its "success".

Very sad indeed and a tremendous indictment of materialist culture.

I can't think that there is anything Confucian about having old women sell their bodies for food.

That said it is also true that this sad state of affairs is not unique to South Korea or to old people in that country.


No comments: