SEOUL, South Korea — Everywhere she goes, whether it's work or the corner market, Lee Kyung-ok is on the lookout to make new friends. When the magic happens, she whips out her smartphone to exchange digits.
She's aggressive, hyper-confident in her navigation of her hipster device. She's also 63.
Lee, her cheeks lightly smudged with rouge, is among the rapidly growing ranks of older South Korean technology users, veteran consumers who feel compelled to keep pace with younger residents of this restless society.
While some her age might become analogue shadows of an increasingly high-tech world, the petite Seoul office worker embraces the challenge.
She and her husband text each other constantly, even from the next room at home. She knows various applications to find the nearest bus stop, subway station or hospital. She can download recipes or exchange photos with her 4-year-old grandson.
"I love texting," she said. "Because it's free, I can go on and on with just about any subject."
In her fashionable blue coat and scarf, Lee is one of the advanced students in a new class being taught at a community center near downtown Seoul. Sponsored by communications provider SK Telecom, the weekly seminars are a pilot program to teach older consumers how to maneuver what for many are some mind-bending ways to let their fingers do the walking.
SK spokeswoman Irene Kim said many were a little slow at negotiating sharp corners on their new devices, like grannies rolling off the showroom floor in new Ferraris.