The Korea Herald


[Korea Quiz] Life milestones

By Korea Herald

Published : May 15, 2024 - 13:36

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Depending on one's cultural background, one may celebrate various milestones in life.

In South Korea, the first significant milestone for a baby is surviving the first 100 days of life.

Although rare now, in the past, families -- often wealthy ones -- would invite relatives, neighbors and friends to a celebratory banquet marking the baby’s 100th day.

This custom stemmed from the high infant mortality rates of the past, which records show stood at around 75 percent in the 1930s during the first three months of life.

A child's first birthday, termed “doljanchi” is celebrated in a more significant way.

Central to this celebration is a ritual called “doljabi,” during which the baby selects an object symbolizing their future. Items such as a gavel, a microphone, a pencil or a stethoscope serve as tokens of potential career paths.

Another notable tradition involves family members presenting the infant with gifts of gold rings, which serve as symbols of prosperity.

Entering the later stages of life brings forth the 60th birthday celebration known as "hwangap" or "hoegap." Historically, reaching the age of 60 was considered a remarkable feat due to a relatively short life expectancy in the past. However, with today's longer life expectancy, many Koreans forego big celebrations at this age, opting instead for family dinners or meaningful gifts to mark the occasion.

Instead, one's 70th birthday has become a more important milestone, often celebrated with a gathering of the person’s offspring for a banquet, with optional invitations extended to friends and acquaintances.

In South Korea, one's 21st birthday is not as important as in some other countries where it marks the the legal age of adulthood in certain realms.

Answer: (C)