South Korea's struggling 'dirt spoons' stir trouble for Moon

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on November 27, 2019 - Duration: 02:10s

South Korea's struggling 'dirt spoons' stir trouble for Moon

South Korea's 'dirt spoons' - impoverished youths who are skeptical about being able to get ahead in life because of their backgrounds - are unhappy that President Moon Jae-in has not fulfilled his promise to reign in social inequality.

Jayson Albano reports.


South Korea's struggling 'dirt spoons' stir trouble for Moon

Kim Jae-hoon has breakfast next to a toilet.

In a cubicle - that's less than 7 square meters big.

The 26-year-old university student lives in a study room.

Previously meant for less well-off students preparing for exams. They're becoming increasingly used as permanent homes - for South Korea's 'dirt spoons'.

It's a term for those born to low-income families, who have all but given up on dreams of a better life.

And they're taking aim at President Moon Jae-in.

Moon promised to bring social and economic justice to South Korea when he came into power in 2017.

But income disparity has only widened in the years since, according to official data.

The benefactors of this widening disparity are known as 'gold spoons'.

People born to better-off families, who Kim says use their status to their kids' advantage: (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) 26-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN STUDENT, KIM JAE-HOON, SAYING: 'I can't complain that we have different starting lines, it is fine that I start from a different level, but I am upset when someone keeps getting perks." Young, low-income voters like Kim have deserted Moon in record numbers.

Many of them say they feel betrayed.

They're calling for him to shift his policy focus back to them.

(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) 26-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN STUDENT, KIM JAE-HOON, SAYING: "At the beginning, I supported him President Moon.

Now I feel he puts North Korea before us South Koreans.

I am not happy with that." In mid-November Moon conceded to his failure to make good on his promise.

(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT, MOON JAE-IN, SAYING: "I am aware of it and fully understand that people are disappointed as the government has not been able to solve problems related to various unfair issues.

More and extra effort will be needed on that." Gold spoons have even become a popular gift given to children on their first birthdays.

It's meant to wish them a wealthy life.

But according to analysts, all these gold spoons are to South Korea's struggling youth is a reflection - of bitter hopelessness.

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