Turning Point to Becoming Adults: The Coming-of-Age Day
Turning Point to Becoming Adults: The Coming-of-Age Day
  • Reporter Reo Ye-jin
  • 승인 2012.05.23 17:28
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Do you know why the third Monday of May is special? It is because people can only celebrate this day once during their lives. On this day, certain individuals are acknow- ledged as full-fledged members of society, and they are reminded of the responsibility and pride as grown-ups who will lead the future of Korea. The day is called the Coming-off Age Day. Koreans consider those who are above 20 years old as adults. Therefore, people born in 1992 will become adults this year.

The Origin of Coming-of-Age Day
The exact origin of Coming-of-Age Day is not definite; there are some records that go back to the Samhan era in about 108 BC. The records say that the boys threaded ropes to drag logs, which were used to build the house in which they received trainings. The records written in the Silla epoch(37 BC~935 AD) mention that the boys wore official uniforms following the Chinese system. However, the first official documented record of the Coming-of-Age Day was in 965 AD when the King Gwangjong had ruled over Goryeo for 16 years. It is recorded that the practice originated from Prince Ju who wore “won-bok” which is the normal outwear for adults at that time to celebrate his reaching of majority.

The Past of Coming-of-Age Day
On Coming-of-Age Day, boys wore Korean crowns that show that they can marry and start working as public officials. In the case of girls, they wore their hair up in buns fixed with oriental pins which only female adults used. Moreover, the individuals dressed as adults. Although the Coming-of-Age Day was generalized in Joseon Dynasty(1392~1897),it disappeared at the end of the period as Japan started intervening in affairs of state.   

The Current Coming-of-Age Day
The Coming-of-Age Day was revived in 1973. Since 1985, it has been celebrated every third Monday of May. The Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism oversaw the related works, such as holding traditional Coming-of-Age ceremonies or award ceremonies, until 2009, when the superintending organization changed to Government Youth Commission. Currently, many companies and organizations host ceremonies to celebrate the Coming-of-Age Day.

The Presents
Generally, people give goods that adults use on a regular basis as presents on the Coming-of-Age Day. For girls, the most popular presents include jewelry, bags, perfumes, cosmetics, or roses while for guys, watches, electric shavers or colognes, are well-liked. In addition, there are the well-known third presents in Coming-of-Age Day besides perfume and 20 roses: a kiss. The perfume implicates “Please remember me?and roses represent desire, passion, happiness, and beauty. Finally, a kiss means promise for eternal love.

The Event in POSTECH
This year, students who are born in 1992 become adults. There used to be a special ceremony held on campus supervised by the Office of Student Affairs. In this ceremony, students were wore traditional adult uniforms like the Joseon Dynasty era so that they could experience the traditional Coming-of-Age Day ceremony. It was a unique experience for both international students and Postechians alike because you cannot experience such a thing anywhere. It is unfortunate that the ceremony no longer is held, but the spirit must carry on. Since they are admitted as working members of society, they should take more responsibility for their behavior and be mature.