By Shim Hyun-chul
In Korea, at 19 one can apply for a driver’s license and buy liquor and tobacco. No more parents’ consent for signing up for a credit card or taking out insurance.
Coming of age allows people to do some 150 things they couldn’t do previously. Of course, this freedom comes with legal responsibility.
The third Monday of May is “Coming-of-Age Day.” Teenagers who turn 19 celebrate the day with friends, family and lovers.
The coming-of-age ceremony has existed in Korea for a long time. When a child becomes an adult, the males wear a “gat,” a Korean traditional hat made of bamboo and horsehair, and the females tie up their hair in a bun during the ceremony, and the custom dates back to the Goryeo Kingdom (936-1332).
On Monday, a coming-of-age ceremony was held at Namsan Hanok Village, central Seoul. Some 139,000 people born in 1991 became an adult that day and were told about morals that adults should know, wearing traditional Korean costume.
At the event, 20 foreigners who also came of age experienced the traditional culture.