Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Silver Zone: Signs in Seoul



This sign hangs just a few meters away from the bus stop where I wait in the afternoon on the days I work.  To be honest, I never noticed it until last week when (the ever-observant) MrLogical pointed it out to me.  I finally got a photo today, and have been thinking it over ever since.  I love the idea of a 'Silver Zone' - which I assume is an area where special care should be taken for the elderly.  In the US, we have plenty of warning signs telling drivers to drive especially carefully because of special populations:  school zones, pedestrian zones, playgrounds, sports fields.  We have warning signs that tell us to watch out for bicyclists and motorcyclists, joggers and skateboarders:  in rural parts of the US, I have seen signs warning me to watch out for cattle and sheep, and, of course, the ubiquitous deer. In our neighborhoods in Arizona and Texas, there were signs that warned you to take caution because children might run out into the street chasing a ball.  And of course, a uniquely American sign that we ran across almost every time we vacationed in California:  the one that warned you to be on the alert for possible illegal immigrants:




However (and I would love to hear from people in the US who can tell me if they have something like this in their community) I have never seen a sign in the US exhorting us to take special care in watching out for the elderly.  

I don't know enough Korean - or Korean culture - to be able to tell you any more about this sign, but it seems that there's definitely a care and a respect for the elderly here that permeates the culture and shows up in everyday life - like street signs.  I love that this sign says something about the esteem in which older people are held in this culture, and the appreciation for the contributions they have made - and are still making.  And  I would love to see some signs like this back home.  

10 comments:

Karen said...

Oh, I love it...especially as I grower nearer to those silver years every day! I have often felt bad for elderly people who don't have the necessary ailments/documentation to park in the handicapped zones here in the US, but who have significant mobility issues anyway. In many places I see signs designating parking places for women with infants (voluntary...not legally bound), who, after all, are mainly young and healthy women. It was a convenience when I was trucking out there with 3 little ones, don't get me wrong, but I was young(er) then and could have made it without the special spot. Would rather have seen the elders get those "next to the handicapped" spots. But you are right, that basic respect for elders is not part of our culture here in the US...though it is part of many family cultures here. What I DO see is respect/adoration of the babies, children and young people...sometimes to a fault. I've got to say though, if I had a nickel for every person who sprang to help as I approached closed doors with the three kids in tow (and diaper bags, and strollers, and socks being removed and tossed and stuffed animals flying out of strollers....well, you get the picture) I would be a rich woman.

It really is hard to make yourself work on Thursday nights!!!

Have a good weekend.
Karen

MsCaroline said...

Karen - Yes, the 'Silver Zone' is growing ever-closer, isn't it? I always appreciated those 'mom' parking spots back home, too. And I did get plenty of help when the boys were small as well. And I will say, Korean culture has the same thing - the buses even have seats with pink vinyl covers on them that are reserved for pregnant women or women traveling with little ones. I just don't remember anything in the US specifically targeted at the elderly. Of course, now that I think of it, I wonder if that doesn't have something to do with the American reluctance to be thought of as 'old!'

Frances said...

Here in UK we have signs for " elderly people". They are usually close to old peoples homes etc., or generally where there might be elderly people crossing. It is a white triangle with a red surround, and has an image in black of 2 slightly bent figures...the leading male figure with a stick.

MsCaroline said...

Frances - clearly, the UK and the Koreans are doing a little better than we are in the US, (although I've been hoping that one of my US readers would chime in and tell me that there are, indeed, such signs in the US and I've just missed them...no luck yet.)

Potty Mummy said...

As Frances says, we do have them in some places in the UK. I prefer the Korean version, though; the bent back in the ones back home just seems a little patronising...

BavarianSojourn said...

I love that sign, it's adorable! I have seen the ones in the UK as well, but they are few and far between. One of my favourites is the sign my Mum has in her village though, which consists of a red triangle with a big toad in the middle... to warn you of toads crossing! They are all nuts there! :)

MsCaroline said...

PM - yes, that would be a bit patronizing. Of course, none of the elderly around here seem to be equipped with hats/canes/dresses either - all of them seem to wear track suits!

MsCaroline said...

Emma - I would love to see the toad sign! My favorite wildlife signs in the US (so far) have been the armadillo signs - they're such funny animals anyway!

Trish @ Mums Gone To... said...

Here's a link to the patronising elderly sign we use here and how it came about:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2010/02/15/ncbi-rofl-depiction-of-elderly-and-disabled-people-on-road-traffic-signs-international-comparison/

MsCaroline said...

Trish - Oooh, I don't like that one at all...very depressing! I do, however, like the fact that there's at least a sign alerting the community to the fact that some residents might need a little extra time and attention..especially as I move towards that age myself!