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South Korea is debating whether it should eliminate its designated “no-kid zones” in public spaces and venues at a time when the country is currently dealing with declining birth rates, the New York Times reported.

Earlier this month, lawmaker Yong Hye-in took her toddler to parliament and called on the government to outlaw the policy that allows various establishments, including restaurants, museums and cafes, to ban children from entering.

South Korea has around 500 no-kid zones, the Washington Post noted.

Yong said that these areas place a high burden on parents and make them feel ostracized. She added that removing these zones could help South Korean society become more accepting of children and help the country elevate its low birth rate.

Following her announcement, local lawmakers on Jeju Island – a popular tourist destination in the south of the country – will vote later this month on whether to ban no-kid zones. If the vote passes, it will be the first of its kind in the country.

Still, despite some calls from parents to remove these areas, opinion polls showed that more than 70 percent of South Koreans favor no-kid zones.

South Korea has the lowest fertility rate in the world – the nation recorded a birthrate of 0.78 in 2022. Many young South Koreans are also choosing not to have children because of inflation, job scarcity, and increasing worries about the future.

The debate about no-kid zones is also taking place elsewhere, including in the United States, Germany, and Canada.

These areas have been met with a mix of praise and criticism: Business owners say they have the right to control their business spaces, with some adding that they are offering parents a break and helping make parenting more manageable.

Detractors, however, counter that such designations stigmatize children and deny them the basic right to exist in public spaces.

Sociologist Hyeyoung Woo told the Post that limiting the presence of children in public spaces discourages people from having children, while also reinforcing “the notion that women should take care of children at home.”

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