I learned that the term for a 'refuse picker' or person who looks for recyclables is '폐지 줍는 노인' or '폐지 줍는 사람'. But when I look for translations of that term, '폐지' seems to mean abolition, and '폐지 줍는 사람' is an 'abolitionist'.

Why does '폐지 줍는 노인' refer to this occupation?

  • 1
    Wow, Google literally translates "폐지 줍는 사람" as "abolitionist". So it understands 폐지 can be "abolition", 사람 can be "-ist", but decides to ignore "줍는". Impressive in its own way!
    – jick
    Nov 13, 2017 at 23:19
  • @jick it made up its own pun! Nov 13, 2017 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


Usually old people(노인) looks for recyclables. So Koreans say like 폐지줍는 노인.

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    The word I didn't understand is 폐지 - google was translating it as 廢止('abolition'). But now I've searched again I see there's another homophonic word, 廢紙 (waste paper). Sorry, it's a trivial question after all! Nov 13, 2017 at 23:00

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