Adult diapers are closer than you think

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Adult diapers are closer than you think


“Oh, no!” my wife exclaimed while watching television the other day. A commercial showed a beautiful middle-aged woman promoting adult diapers for urinary incontinence.

There is nothing strange about promoting a urinary incontinence product, but my wife was surprised because the condition is generally associated with the elderly. We have become familiar with an actress in her 60s being the model for the product, but the model in the ad was at least 10 years younger.

If the model could hear viewers’ reactions, she might ask back, “Don’t you think you, too, are getting old?”

In the 1970s, Im Ye-jin was the most popular teenage actress. She starred in the “I Am Really Sorry” series with Lee Deok-hwa, and the shows were often sold out thanks to huge popularity among middle and high school students. Many boys kept photos of Im in their uniform pockets. As Im grew older, she played the role of the aunt in dramas. And now, in popular JTBC series “Best Life is Without Children,” she plays a mother-in-law who fights with her son’s wife. Im is 53 years old this year, and Lee Deok-hwa turned 61.

I felt time passing once again when I watched “Concert 7080” on Sunday. I enjoyed the appearance of Sand Pebbles and the performance of “What Should I Do.” But I am sorry to say that the group has grown so old. The singers are fortunate as the voice is one of the last human functions to get old, but still, no one can be free from the passing of time.

As Lee Aerisu of “The Ruins of Hwangseong” fame passed away at the age of 99 in 2009, nearly all popular singers of that generation have all passed away. Only a few seniors in their 80s are still left. Choi Hui-jun is 77, and Nam In-hae is 75. Lee Mi-ja is 72, and Kim Sang-hee turned 70 this year.

It is all natural, but why do I feel so surprised and frustrated?

We all think based on our own age. The movie “Home Alone” is on air every holiday season, but Macaulay Culkin is no longer the cute boy in the film but a 32-year-old struggling with a drug problem. It may be vain to wish him to stay a child forever. With the exception of Yu Gwan-sun, the patriotic independence activist who died in prison at a young age, no one can be remembered as a child forever.

As I watched the debate over free subway rides for senior citizens during the presidential campaign, I again felt that people always think based on their own age. As the new administration puts more emphasis on welfare, there will likely be a generational collision over benefits. But we can prevent discord by putting ourselves in other people’s shoes. Young people in their 20s and 30s have parents in their 50s and 60s. Soon enough, young actresses like Kim Tae-hee and Mun Geun-yeong will appear in ads for urinary incontinence products.

The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun
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