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Korean netizens abuzz over 'no-kids zone' airline

Aug. 31, 2023 - 19:42 By Yoon Min-sik

Recent news of a Turkish airline adopting a child-free zone in its airplanes has sparked a conversation in South Korea, a country the airline doesn't even fly to.

Korea is a country that continuously smashes the world’s record for the lowest birth rate, and the no-kids policy has become a topic of national debate.

According to reports, Corendon Airline will start offering "adults-only" seats from November, reserving some of its seats for passengers aged 16 or up on its routes between Amsterdam and Curacao, an island in the southern Caribbean.

The news has caught the eyes of several Koreans, some of whom expressed envy at the prospect of flying without the presence of children.

"I flew on a red-eye flight a few days ago, and a baby on another aisle was crying all the way. I barely had an hour of sleep and nearly killed myself while driving on the freeway the next morning. I fully support that idea," wrote an internet user with the ID hera**** in the comment section of an online article.

"Some parents may be against it but ... I couldn't sleep at all (on the flight) because a baby kept crying. I know it's not the baby's fault, but we could be more considerate of each other," another person wrote.

There were also many who expressed discomfort at the idea of no-kids zones on flights, as well as over the positive reaction towards the foreign airliner’s policy.

"This is why no one will have kids anymore. I guess you guys were all born adults," said a person with the ID sbsq**** said.

The spread of no-kids zones, or business establishments denying children access to their premises for the sake of adult customers, has sharply divided public opinion. It is estimated that there are over 400 restaurants and cafes identified as no-kids areas in Korea.

While some adults welcome the idea, others say that the existence of no-kids zones is discriminatory and detrimental to the government’s efforts to make South Korea more family friendly in the face of a rapidly-declining fertility rate.

A low birth rate has been plaguing South Korea in recent years, with its fertility rate last year dropping to an all-time low of 0.78. The fertility rate refers to the total number of children that would be born to each woman over the course of her childbearing years. A fertility rate of 2.1 is needed in order to maintain the population.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said last month that it will conduct nationwide research into no-kids zones to see how they are operated, the types of businesses adopting such policies, the age limits applied, and how they are perceived by customers, parents and business owners. The ministry said it will investigate the potential effects child-free zones may have on Korea's low fertility rate.