[Hallyupedia] The Coming-of-Age Day

연합뉴스 / 2022-05-16 09:27:27
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by Ra Hwakjin / Kim Jimin

[ENG] A day to celebrate one’s coming of age


▲ This file photo shows people participating in Korean traditional coming-of-age ceremony. (Yonhap)

The Coming-of-Age Day is a day to celebrate one’s coming of age. The Coming-of-Age Day of Korea is the third Monday of May. In Korea, the age of adult is 19 years old, and the event for the Coming-of-Age Day usually aims at people who become adults that year. In this year, those born in 2003 are the stars of the day.

In Korea, after the ‘regulations on various anniversaries (translated)’ established in 1973 through the presidential decree, April 20 was first designated as the Coming-of-Age Day, and it was shifted to May 6 in 1975. Then, since 1985, the anniversary events for the Coming-of-Age Day have been held on the third Monday of May.

There have been various coming-of-age ceremonies in different countries and ethnic groups. According to the Doosan Encyclopedia, even before the Goryeo dynasty, when a child becomes an adult, it was officially announced that he or she becomes an adult through a custom ritual, a boy wearing a 'gat' (Korean traditional hat worn by men) and a girl doing 'Jjok-jin-meori' (traditional hairdo for married women in Korea).



▲ This file photo shows a woman experiencing a traditional hairdo during the the traditional Korean coming-of-age ceremony at the Namsangol Hanok Village in Seoul. (Yonhap)



▲ This file photo shows a young man wearing 'gat,' a traditional Korean hat, during a traditional coming-of-age ceremony in Gwangju in Mayof 2020. (Yonhap)

According to the Encyclopedia of Korean Culture, it is believed that the coming-of-age ceremony is originated from an event for the crown prince in 965, during King Gwangjong of the Goryeo dynasty.

In Korea, there have been a lot of places until the mid of 1900s, having traditional rituals to celebrate the coming-of-age in local villages with adults. However, it is hard to find traditional coming-of-age ceremony being hold in local communities.

Instead, there are a lot of cases that families, friends, or seniors and juniors giving a present such as roses or perfumes when one become an adult, but it is yet to consider as a common custom.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family holds a government level celebration event, and each institution of city halls and district offices also hold celebration events. At Sungkyunkwan and local Confucian schools, a traditional coming-of-age event is held.

◇ Age of adult in Korea


▲ This file photo shows a South Korean high school student casting his first ballot in the South Korean presidential election. (Yonhap)

The meaning of adult can vary, but it is basically the age at which one can independently practice a legal action regardless of parental consent. In Korea, the age of adult is stipulated in civil law, which first set it as 20 years old, and after the revision of law in 2013, it was lowered to 19 years old.

The age of adult varies from country to country, and unlike Korea, 18 years old is an adult age in Germany, France, the United States, and China. In Japan, the age of adult was 20 years old, but it was lowered to 18 years old starting from April 1st this year.


▲ This file photo shows Japanese women and young men leaving after attending their Coming of Age Day ceremony at Yokohama Arena in January of 2022. (Yonhap)

Aside from the issue of the standard of adult, there is a slight difference in age which becomes the standard for individual behavior. In Korea, a part-time job can be done from the age of 15, and motorcycle driver’s license can be obtained from the age of 16. Also, marriage is possible at the age of 18 with parents' consent.

Also, the age at which one can run the local elections was 25 years old, but recently, it changed to 18 years old, allowing several teenage candidates to run the local election scheduled to be held on June 1st.

◇ Events for the Coming-of-Age Day this year


▲ This file photo shows women photographing themselves during the traditional Korean coming-of-age ceremony. (Yonhap)

On the upcoming 16th, which is the Coming-of-Age Day, Seoul city will hold traditional coming-of-age event at Cheonugak square in Namsangol Hanok village.

In this event, MU and Keum Dong-hyun from group EPEX, who were born in 2003, and WISH, born in 2002, will be participating. Between them, Keum Dong-hyun will be the representative of male adult.

The ‘2022 Seoul traditional Coming-of-Age Day event’ will be broadcast live through Seoul city’s YouTube channel from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the 16th.


▲ This file photo shows a K-pop boy group EPEX. (Yonhap)

On the event, several ceremonies will be held including gocheon ritual (a ritual to tell god the beginning of the event), adult determination, garye (a ritual of wearing adults garments), chorye (a ritual of drinking alcohol), suhunrye (a ritual of teaching lessons for adults), gajarye (a ritual of giving new name as an adult), and appreciation ritual.

This year, the events for the Coming-of-Age Day will be held nationwide for the first time in three years after COVID-19 crisis. Traditional coming-of-age rituals will be held at the main auditorium of Women’s Culture Center in Busan, and also at Myungryundang of Jeongui Confucian school in Seongeup village in Seogwipo city, Jeju island at the same day.






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