The Bacchus Lady highlights an intriguing but highly disheartening phenomenon in South Korea: elderly prostitutes. “Bacchus Ladies” are senior citizen prostitutes that solicit sex in the parks and plazas of Seoul. They get their name from the Bacchus energy drink, which they’ve traditionally made a living selling on the side (you can learn more about them in this VICE documentary).
This phenomenon is particularly sad given that South Korea is supposed to be a traditional Confucian society which respects elders. However, because of rapid changes in society due to Korea’s economic ascendance, children are increasingly seeing elder parents as a burden. This is exacerbated by low birthrates, which means fewer children/grandchildren to support older parents.
Combined with the lack of an effective social safety net in Korea, these factors mean that the poverty rate for women over 65 is one of the highest in developed countries. As such, some elderly women end up selling their bodies for sex in order to survive.
The Bacchus Lady stars the matronly Yoon Yeo-jeong (The Housemaid, King 2 Hearts) as a Bacchus Lady and traces her relationships with both regular clients and others at the margins of South Korean society. The movie runs for 111 minutes and was just released in South Korea two weeks ago (October 6, 2016).