Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Children’s Day, May 5, 2013

This year, Children’s Day(어린이날)fell on a Sunday, and the weather could not have been better. According to the teacherlink website, children’s fiction writer Bang Jeong-Hwan invented the holiday in 1923. The holiday is meant to “highlight the dignity of children and their need for love, care and respect.”1

"Oma! I need a present too!"
Many Korean cities host parades and activities, and sometimes movie theatres offer free admission for children. Children might play traditional games, such as yut-nori (yut), participate in taekwondo demonstrations, or buy gifts at local stores. After their tiring outing, they might return home for a nice meal of bulgogi, kimchi and rice with kim (seaweed), or shellfish. Even in the United States, Korean cultural schools hold day-long celebrations on this day.

I decided I wanted to see what was happening in my own hometown. In the downtown area, there was a big hubbub surrounding some canopies and speakers. Kids rushed everywhere to take in the fun activities the community parents had planned. There were presents, balloon animals, and speakers pumping out kpop music. When I arrived, Psy’s new single was playing. Uhhh…

Hey, I'm a kid, too. Where's my bulgogi?
I locked up my bike and got my shiny new ukulele-style guitar from the give and take out of my backpack. I danced around and played a bit while kids everywhere jumped around, mostly rushing to get their hands on the presents. They took no notice of the crazy waygookin and his small magical instrument. They just snacked on sweet treats and played with their parents, their wide smiles beaming and their laughter rippling through the drifting spring breeze.

Oma takes her little princess to look at pets.
At the local Lottemart, families rushed around with their kids, looking at pets, playing with musical instruments and buying shopping carts full of toys. The place wasn’t abnormally busy for a Saturday. Just a bit more… well, let’s just say, you don’t meet princesses in Lottemart every day.

My last stop was the local X-games skate and blade track. Kids all around hit the track with their blades while halmoni and haraboji sat and ate a nice Children’s Day meal. The words echoed through my head: “the dignity of children and their need for love, care and respect.” As teachers, or lovers of humanity in general, we cannot help but think of how important it is for all of the children of the world to live 
healthy, safe and fulfilling lives. Happy Children’s Day, everybody.

1: http://teacherlink.ed.usu.edu/tlresources/units/byrnes-celebrations/korea2.html
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