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Showing respect for the nation’s children – South Korean way

May 4, 2009

What better way to nurture and care for the future of a country than through the respect of their little people–children. These small bundles of joy, laughter, and agonising squeals may seem reckless and childlike today, but with the right encouragement and affection, they have the potential to develop into world leaders, educators, and inspiring thinkers.

South Korean’s recognise the value of their young population with a national holiday “Children’s Day”. Each year on May 5th, the children get a chance to celebrate their right to being a child: innocence and youth.

J R May

J R May

Children’s Day has historical importance in South Korea’s freedom and future. First recognised as a holiday in 1923, it became a passive form of protest during the Japanese occupation. South Korean elders faced with a hopeless future themselves, began to observe May 5th as a day for the children. Giving back the youth their national identity. Another event took place soon after the Korean War. Through the battered streets of Seoul a police parade marched, with placards and music, calling the children: “our nation’s flowers”. Like the pied piper this parade drew children, ragged and orphaned, out from their make shift homes and onto the streets: recognised and respected. May 5th 1951.

The volatile era the country underwent may have caused great losses to historic monuments and dark holes in their history, but it has been unable remove the value and significance of  “Children’s Day”. A day where kids can simply be kids.

J R May

J R May

Not child soldiers, child sex slaves, child workers; just young people who have yet to live their life to the fullest.

by Cate

by Cate

And celebrate the progress of a new nation.

Throughout South Korea on Tuesday May 5th, there will happiness and fun. As for me, I’m just happy it’s a holiday.

Not everyone sees Children’s Day as bliss; check out Suzy’s Seoulful life blog on her take. Humorous and quite possibly, true.

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. Bear permalink
    May 5, 2009 2:24 am

    Amazing. A holiday that is not what it seems and which arose from an act of defiance against an oppressive government.

    And a holiday that celbrates children for what they are — and not as a commercial commodity.

    I am curious as to what the children see in it. Aside from being the center of attention and in parades. Not yet burdened by knowledge of history, but they are learning it — and not yet given to higher adult thinking, but the more pragmatic. Do they have special fun, or receiving of gifts, or something else?

    • May 7, 2009 8:37 am

      Bear – yes you do know what I’m writing about. Children’s Day is now likened to Christmas, full of noise and gift giving. A good excuse to have fun.


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