In daytime discos, South Korea’s elderly find escape from anxiety

SEOUL (Reuters) – A discotheque hidden among the the back alleys of japanese Seoul is packed with hundreds of grey-haired partners on a Monday afternoon, dancing to community hits from the 1960s in a basketball court-sized corridor.

Kim Sa-gyu, 85, phone calls it his “playground.”

“What else would I do all day? My family is active with operate. I dislike likely to senior centers cause all they do there is smoking,” said Kim, putting on a beret as he sat on a bench at the edge of a dance floor adorned with fairy lights and mirror balls.

Seven times a 7 days, he receives up at 5 a.m., has breakfast with his son and two grandchildren, receives an hour of massage remedy to ease knee discomfort, then hops on a bus. His location is the daytime disco for the elderly in New Hyundai Core.

Kim, who has been jobless given that retiring as a hospital administer 20 yrs in the past, is among the about 1,000 buyers each individual weekday at the disco, referred to as a colatec. It is just one of almost 1,000 these amenities all over the region.

Practically 2,000 folks take a look at on a weekend day, said proprietor Choi Jung-eun.

Colatecs, a portmanteau of cola and discotheque, have arisen to serve South Korea’s fast ageing populace, as a rising amount of lonely, impoverished and ailing folks rediscover approaches to entertain on their own just after a long time of hard operate.

Some are below because they just really do not sense welcome at property.

“My wife yaps at me for respiratory if I stay property. I adore this new music and no just one minds me below,” a grey-haired male who recognized himself only as ‘white boots’ said, just after spending an entrance cost of 1,000 gained (90 cents) – a fraction of what swanky clubs in Seoul’s affluent Gangnam charge their youthful clientele.

Properly-dressed patrons can pay out another 500 gained for coat-verify support. And even with the name, the disco’s greatest-advertising beverage is 2,000 gained probiotic yogurt, not cola.

Aged AND Depressed

The generation that assisted rebuild Asia’s fourth-biggest economy from the ruins of the 1950-1953 Korean War is now the poorest and most frustrated among the member countries of the Organisation for Financial Co-operation and Improvement.

The relative poverty price of South Korea’s elderly stood at 49.6 % in 2013, 4 periods the OECD regular, in accordance to the hottest readily available details. The elderly suicide price rose from 35 for each 100,000 folks in 2000 to 82 in 2010, also far earlier mentioned the OECD regular of 22.

South Korea is ageing a lot quicker than any other formulated region, still there are handful of article-retirement positions, or even affordable leisure, readily available for the elderly.

By 2050, there will be 71 folks aged 65 and about for just about every 100 folks aged 15-64 in South Korea, up from just 17.3 for each 100 in 2014, in accordance to OECD forecasts. That will make it the third-oldest region in the world about wealthy nations, guiding Japan and Spain.

Heading to a colatec is now they only way numerous senior citizens can discover space to breathe, numerous buyers informed Reuters.

Han Min-ja and Yang Gained-ju dance at the New Hyundai Core colatec in Seoul, South Korea, April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Kim In-gil, continue to haunted by painful memories linked to his unsuccessful firms in the course of the 1997-1998 Asian money disaster, says two several hours of dancing 4 periods a 7 days aids rid him of “suicidal thoughts” from time to time.

    “If you have new music and a lover, you can put all other thoughts out of your intellect,” Kim said as beads of sweat dripped off his nose.


Colatecs began to spring up in the late 1990s as a no-alcoholic beverages dancing club for teens, but soon begun to catch the attention of the elderly as their key buyers.

Jitterbug teacher Music-ah’s on-line video clips about how to dance at a colatec sparked passions just after she appeared in a Television set industrial for insurance company LINA’s pension products.

A cable Television set channel supplying dancing tutorials for the elderly, referred to as Silver-I, is also preferred.

At the New Hyundai Core colatec, a dance teacher walked all over the dance corridor hunting for dancers who seemed dropped or lonely. Three entire-time matchmaking ladies assisted dancers who had been far too shy to discover a lover.

“Those helpers sometimes take me to new female and put our hands alongside one another to dance. I obtain them a bottle of Will in the course of our tea breaks,” the 85-calendar year-aged Kim said, referring to the in-house cafe’s greatest-advertising consume, a community probiotic yogurt.

Music-ah, the jitterbug dance teacher, says she is often on the lookout for relationship-linked elder fraud at colatecs.

“Sometimes I see young cougars in their 50s inquiring definitely aged grandpas out for a dance. I report them to the proprietor and independent them,” she said, adding that lonely seniors can be taken benefit of by strangers.

But for the most component, colatecs do extra great than hurt, says Joo Gained, an economist at the Hyundai Exploration Institute.

“We have just one disappointed ageing society that desires support the two from the general public and the government. Locations like colatecs need to be nurtured,” Joo said.

Choi, the proprietor of New Hyundai Core colatec, said her small business produced her sense great far too.

“My take from jogging this area is realizing that these aged folks have a area to go to when they wake up. They just cannot afford to go travel abroad or play golf just about every day,” Choi said.

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She additional that she had some senior-pleasant enlargement ideas.

“I also prepare to open up a acupuncture clinic upstairs, so that my buyers can take care of their joints in advance of and just after dancing,” she said.

More reporting by Ju-min Park, Modifying by Soyoung Kim and Gerry Doyle

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