Recently, many cafes and restaurants seem to be banning entrance of children. Many people agree to this, which is why a lot of No-kids zones are being emerged everywhere compared to the past.
/Illustrated by Kwon Min-jeong
“No-kids zone” is a term which refers to “establishments that prohibit the entry of infants and children.” This term has been used since 2014 and was started by some restaurant and cafe owners who could no longer stand wild children and irresponsible parents. Before that, some places banned children from entering, but the controversy over these places appears to have actively begun from around 2016. The No-kids zone controversy was sparked again by the movie “Frozen 2,” which opened in November and attracted a lot of attention from people, especially children.
Some problems caused No-kids zone to rise to the surface
The spread of No-kids zones seems to have been caused by children’s uncontrollable behavior, parental neglect and court rulings that hold owners partially responsible for safety accidents that happen at workplaces. On the Internet, the so-called “stew woman accident,” and “Starbucks mug posting” have sparked outrage, creating a wave of public opinion supporting No-kids zones.
Several representative cases have affected No-kids zones. The cases in which the court ruling was upheld are the following cases. First, in 2011, a 10-year-old child ran into an employee carrying a bowl of hot water and was burned. After a trial, the Busan District Court reached a verdict in 2013 that the restaurant owner and employees were responsible for 70 percent of the total, which means that the owner and employees should pay 41 million won. Next, there was a case where an employee poured bean paste stew over a stroller parked in the middle of the restaurant hall and a 4-year-old child got burned. In 2014, the Uijeongbu District Court determined that the restaurant owner was responsible for 70 percent of the accident. Such cases have caused a lot of controversies over No-kids zones by being uploaded on the Internet as well. In 2012, there was an Internet posting that claimed a careless woman burned a 9-year old child. However, CCTV showed that it was the child who ran around and crushed into the woman. After the accident was reported to have been caused by the child, the No-kids zone controversy resurfaced. This is called the “stew woman accident.” Also, on the Internet, there was a posting saying a mother put her young son’s urine into a mug at Starbucks, a coffee franchise, and it made a big issue for sure.
Many businesses have seen their sales increase since introducing No-kids zone in practice. An employee of a No-kids zone restaurant near Hapjeong station said that they have been operating the restaurant as No-kids zone for nearly a year, but they do not have much impact on their business since their prime customers are young people. Rather, he cited that the rotation rate has increased since there is no more child-catering customer, whose mealtime is relatively long.
A lot of cafes and restaurants are becoming No-kids zones
Now, many cafes and restaurants have declared themselves No-kids zones. An owner of a No-kids zone cafe in Seongsu-dong points out that inside the narrow cafe, there used to be customers who made excessive demands, such as changing diapers or sterilizing tables, chairs and cushions. He added that this led to a problem of frequently-visiting customers leaving because of those people.
Last December, with the release of the hugely popular sequel to the movie “Frozen,” the number of people visiting theaters as a family unit has increased. As a result, many people complained that while they were watching the movie, they could not concentrate on the movie because children talked loudly, cried throughout the movie, or kicked seats. On movie review pages, many people agreed with the comments asking children to be quiet during the movie. Just as some restaurants and cafes declared themselves No-kids zones, some people said theaters should make "No-kids theaters," as well. A movie theater customer (woman, 24) who visited the theater to watch “Frozen 2” said, “During the movie, elementary school students sang along with the OST loudly and kept asking the adult who came with them about the plot so I could not concentrate well on the movie. I was really annoyed and irritated by them.”
There is no exception in foreign cases. No-kids zone is also controversial in foreign countries such as the United States and Britain. In the past, only high-class restaurants with dress codes did not allow children. However, recently, regular restaurants have declared themselves No-kids zone as well. In 2013, the restriction of children’s entry at a restaurant in Los Angeles led to a legal dispute. Also, No-kids zone was introduced in airplanes, which caused controversy. When the aircraft A380 was introduced in 2012, Malaysia Airlines set part of its economy class seats as “Quiet zone.” Then, they assigned children under the age of 12 and their accompanying passengers to the “Quiet zone.” The policy of the separation of kids and their accompanying passengers from other passengers was strongly criticized by the passengers accompanying children and was soon retracted. However, soon after, India’s low-cost airlines Indigo Airlines introduced No-kids zone where children under the age of 12 could not ride, and when criticism mounted. they made their position clear by strongly claiming that the main customers of Indigo Airlines are business people and office workers, and they hope those customers can relax at least on the plane. Recently, European airlines are also introducing No-kids zone seats.
The Pros and Cons of No-kids zones
According to a survey conducted by a market research team Embrain Trend Monitor responded by 1,000 adult men and women aged 20-60, many of them agreed on the need for No-kids zones since they experienced discomfort caused by children’s noise in public.
First, six out of 10 adults (60.9%) were found to have felt uncomfortable in public places due to dangerous situations such as noise problems or collisions caused by infants and children under the age of 13, international age. Restaurants were the most frequently cited places where people felt inconvenience due to children, followed by cafes, subways, theaters, and supermarkets. Regarding the inconvenience caused by children, 74.1% of the respondents said they understood the situation, but some sanctions were needed. Regardless of gender, age, marital status and the presence of their children, they all had similar thoughts about it. There was a discussion naturally going on over No-kids zones amid the consensus that sanctions are needed to some extent concerning problems and risks arising from children in public.
Overall, the public were found to have a strong attitude in favor of No-kids zone. 66.1% of all respondents said they were in favor of No-kids zone, especially young people and people who do not have children seemed to be actively in favor of the introduction of No-kids zone. However, it is worth noting that as many as 54.8% of married couples with children are more supportive of No-kids zone, which may seem quite contradictory of adults with children being more supportive of No-kids zones, unlike most people’s expectations.
Those in favor of the introduction of No-kids zone cited, among other things, the fact that there are many parents who do not control their children properly these days (79.3%, duplicate responses), and that guests have the right not to be inconvenienced or harmed by them (75.3%) as key reasons. It seems a lot of people think that children who make a fuss in public and make trouble are not properly controlled by their parents, which only harms other customers. Along with the opinion that noise from children can distract others (68.5%), many people were supportive of the introduction of No-kids zone because there are many parents who make excessive demands regarding their children (51.9%), and that the business policies of the stores are personal freedom (36.6%).
On the other hand, those who were opposed to No-kids zone argued that children and their parents have the right to visit stores that they want to visit (56%, duplicate responses) and that the introduction of No-Kids zone may be social discrimination (52%). There was a strong perception that sanctioning children’s movement was too much because they think No-Kids zone violates “children’s basic rights.” Other arguments against No-Kids zone were also found, with 44% saying that there is no problem if parents can control their children properly and 39.5% saying that social consideration is needed first.
What is the solution to No-kids zones?
Amid the ongoing debate over No-kids zones, the number of businesses declaring themselves No-kids zones continues to rise. According to the No-kids zone map, which shows No-kids zones across the country on Google Maps, more than 400 cafes and restaurants in Korea now declare themselves No-kids zones. There were 240 No-kids zones in Korea two years ago, however, now, 160 more No-kids zones have emerged. Many No-kids zones are located in areas so-called “hot places,” mostly in Yeonnam-dong, Itaewon and Seongsu-dong in Seoul. Although there are some difficulties in dealing with customers accompanying children, the opinion of the store owners who declared No-kids zones is that they will continuously maintain the No-kids zone policy in the future. In particular, the “Honka,” who comes to a cafe alone,” the “Kagong,” who studies at a cafe,” and the “Dink,” who intentionally do not have children” look for No-kids zone cafes and restaurants intentionally. Recently, there has been a growing trend of not only No-kids zone but also places that prohibit youths from entering such as “No-choding zone,” banning elementary school students, and “No-teenagers zone.”
However, some express concern, saying that the uniformly prohibited entry by dividing into certain age groups can lead to child and youth discrimination. Some suggest that people should use expressions such as “No-manner Zone” rather than expressions like “No-kids zone” and “No-choding zone,” banning entries of “people,” not particular age groups. Yeon So-hee, the junior of Major English Interpretation and Translation, said, “Creating No-kids zones is an extreme way which denies the freedom of children and their parents.” She added, “Therefore, parents should be aware of the fact that the freedom of their children can be a nuisance to others and thoroughly educate their children so that everyone in the society can enjoy one’s peaceful cultural life.” Indeed, many experts nowadays suggest that creating Kids Zones for children will be a better and more realistic measure, rather than creating No-Kids zones to separate children. They say that by doing so, we should be able to create an environment where children can be born and raised ultimately so that children and adults can coexist in the same space.
Kwon Min-jeong firstname.lastname@example.org
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