So Kim Yong-ha has published a piece in the New York Times criticizing the elderly subway riders for territorializing those end-of-car seats. You know where they are as clearly as you would know where the front and back seat of a car are. What I can’t understand is this:
About two years ago, I had unintentionally sat in one of the elderly-designated seats on the subway and was checking my email when I looked up to meet the eyes of a scowling elderly man. I got up right away. He didn’t thank me, but continued to stare at me from across the train. There had been other free seats for him to use, but he pressured me to get up just to make the point that I shouldn’t have been sitting there.
How do you unintentionally sit in one of those seats? Really? I rode the subway countless times, sometimes under the influence, and there was never a time when I mistook those seats for something else. Sure, sometimes the elderly can exploit their privileges to take a seat–like when ajummas shoulder and hip their way into a spot with nary a care–but the concept that the elderly deserve a seat more than those younger makes sense. Pregnant women also.
Kim ends his piece with a more political assertion that seems to call out the elderly as if their conservative leanings should preclude their seats at the end of the subway car.
The fighting over seats mirrors a vast political gap outside the subway. A majority of older Koreans support President Park Geun-hye and the governing party, but the younger generation is strongly opposed to her leadership. Many older people feel nostalgia for the days of Park Chung-hee, the current president’s father, when they were more prosperous and the country was in the throes of exciting development.
Are the “conservative” elderly out of hand on the subway?