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SEOUL – South Korea has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, but parents say the government hasn’t made it easier for them to have children when hundreds of public facilities across the country are designated “no-kids zones”. Has been

Earlier this month, a lawmaker took her child to the National Assembly and called on the government to repeal the policy, which allows restaurants, museums, cafes and other establishments to ban the entry of children.

In her address, Yong Hee-in, a representative of the Basic Income Party, said that raising a family is becoming more difficult in cities that ban children in some areas. He said that getting rid of no-kids zones and building a society that is more accepting of children will help the country overcome its low birth rate.

“Life with a child is not easy,” Ms. Yong said as she held her son in the National Assembly. “But still, we have to recreate a society in which we can coexist with our children.”

Last year, South Korea birth rate 0.78according to official data, Many young couples in the country are choosing not to have children Rising cost of child care and housing, lack of jobs and growing concern about the future. For years, the government has offered incentives such as monthly subsidies of hundreds of dollars to families with children, but has failed to adequately address the demographic crisis.

There are hundreds of no-kids zones throughout South Korea. For example, the National Library of Korea prohibits anyone under the age of 16 from entering without special permission. (Recently there have been attempts to ban seniors in some places, trigger an argument Online.)

This is the second time Ms. Yong has appeared in the National Assembly with her child. In the summer of 2021, she came with her son when he was only a few weeks old. The National Assembly restricts entry to anyone other than Assembly members and authorized personnel, and is itself considered a no-kids zone.

Ms. Yong introduced the “National Assembly Chamber Child Companion Law” in 2021, allowing infants under the age of 24 months to enter the main floor of the legislature. The bill is yet to be passed.

There has been a debate about where children should and should not be allowed been going on for years, and not only in South Korea. Angry travelers have often asked why airlines don’t offer reclining seats for families with young children.

Many countries, including Australia and the United States, allow children to enter government buildings. Babies were allowed on the Senate floor in Washington for the first time after Sen. tammy duckworthwhose presence was required to confirm a new NASA administrator had given birth to a daughter in 2018, less than two weeks before the vote.

Stella Creasy, a member of the British Parliament, was punished for bringing her child in 2021 Westminster Hall in London.

Ms. Yong was born in 1990 in Bucheon, a city on the outskirts of Seoul, and became a legislator in 2020. To avoid lines at places like museums and amusement parks.

are almost 3.5 million Children under the age of 10 in South Korea, and more than 11,000 public facilities designed for children’s play, according to official statistics,

Public opinion on child-free zones suggests that a majority of South Koreans support them. A 2022 survey Hankook Research, a Seoul-based polling company, showed that 73 percent of respondents were in favor of no-kids zones while only 18 percent were against them. (Another 9 percent of respondents were undecided).

Proponents of the policy say children can be a hassle for customers. “I usually go to cafes to study, I don’t want to be interrupted by crying children,” Lee Chan-hee, an engineering student in Seoul who is restricted to children, said in an interview this week.

Other reasons to support the zone include the prevention of accidents and property damage as well as injuries to young children. Protecting the rights of small business owners was also a consideration.

But the tide may be changing.

The push to get rid of the no-kids zone gathered momentum last week when the Health and Welfare Safety Committee on Jeju Island — a popular tourist destination off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula — considered an ordinance that would make the no-kids zone a complete no-kids zone. Will end up in the island. ,

The island’s lawmakers will hold a session later this month to decide whether to pass the bill. If passed, it would be the first law of its kind in South Korea.

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