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Posts Tagged ‘Korean Children’s Day’


Wednesday was Children’s Day here in South Korea. It’s one of four days in the year when children aren’t tortured with endless hours of school, study hall, after-school classes and cramming – the others being Chusok (Thanksgiving), Christmas and Lunar New Year. This holiday is a pretty big deal. 

Like children in any other country, Korean kids greatly love presents, so gift-giving plays a prominent role in Children’s Day. In the days leading up to this holiday, I saw many people walking around with toys or clothes they had just bought for their children, their nieces and nephews or their grandchildren. There was also a definite sense of excitement among the kids as they counted down to the big day. 

Ian With His Children's Day Loot

Ian With His Children's Day Loot

One of the really nice things about Children’s Day is that it’s a national holiday. Korean parents have pretty brutal schedules – long days at work, long commutes and fairly frequent compulsory drinking sessions with work colleagues. They don’t have nearly as much time to spend with their kids as parents in the West do. This is their chance to get in some quality time. 

At the Lee household, we decided to go on a picnic. Now, the in-laws’ house here in Yangsan has a nice front yard that I think would work just fine for a picnic, but no. Kids need to have something to brag about. They can’t just be sent off to school the day after to tell their friends they had a picnic in their front yard. They need to be able to boast of having gone somewhere. And so we went somewhere. 

The somewhere we went is called SPO 1 Park in Busan. Now, it’s not really a park in the sense that I’m used to. It’s a sporting complex surrounded by bike paths. There are some narrow strips of land with trees and flag stones between the bike paths, and we had our picnic on one of them. Since Korea is not very well endowed with green grassy fields, it’s also where a huge number of other parents decided to drag their kids for their picnic. 

We thought SPO 1 Park would be a great place for a picnic - and a million others in the Busan area had the same idea.

We thought SPO 1 Park would be a great place for a picnic - and a million others in the Busan area had the same idea.

I can’t say I found it terribly restful. The periods when Ian was content to sit with everybody on the padded Pororo groundsheet were fine, but he doesn’t like staying still for very long. I spent a lot of the picnic shepherding Ian as he went off in random directions searching for random things to put in his mouth. This is one of my daily duties, but what made it exhausting was making sure the little guy didn’t get mowed down by someone rollerblading, running or riding a bike. And there were lots and lots and lots of kids and adults engaged in those activities. 

All the cousins in one spot. Jun-pyo, So-min and Ian, as well as Jun-pyo's mom Kyung-hee (my younger sister-in-law), and my unphotogenic self.

All the cousins in one spot. Jun-pyo, So-min and Ian, as well as Jun-pyo's mom Kyung-hee (my younger sister-in-law), and my unphotogenic self.

I must say, I was happy we took the kids out for a picnic, but I was especially happy when it was over and we could go home to have some cake and actually have enough space to stretch out our legs. Like so many holidays in Korea, Children’s Day is exhausting work. 

So-min and Ian discuss how the Children's Day cake should be divvied up.

So-min and Ian discuss how the Children's Day cake should be divvied up.

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