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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: Holidays in South Korea Series on KoreanClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Korean holidays and observances. I’m Brandon, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 21: Coming-of-Age Day.
In most countries, when someone turns eighteen years old, he or she is recognized as a citizen. All around the world, parties are thrown to celebrate this occasion when people reach adulthood.
In South Korea, in the third week of May, various events celebrate those people who are coming of age that year. In this lesson, we’ll learn about Coming-of-Age Day or 성년의 날 (seongnyeonui nal).
Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: what present is most wanted by young people who are coming of age?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
On Coming-of-Age Day, people in South Korea most often exchange these two gifts: roses and perfume. Turning eighteen years old is equivalent to being twenty years old in Korean years, and the age when you’re considered an adult. The reason eighteen years old is like being twenty years old in Korea is because people are already considered to be one year old when they’re born. So, the parents or friends of the person who's coming of age will give him or her twenty roses as a gift. You’ll see many college students with roses if you go to a college campus on Coming-of-Age Day.
The second most popular gift is perfume. In South Korea, perfume usually isn't worn in middle school and high school, but it's often worn in college. Wearing perfume symbolizes becoming an adult. And, they say that perfume embodies the meaning, "Remember me for a long time." Thus, giving perfume helps those people who are coming of age to "be a person whom people remember for a long time."
Even in ancient Korea, a special gift was given to people who were coming of age. To celebrate becoming an adult, men had their hair tied into a topknot or 상투(sangtu,) and women had a pin put into their hair.
Here's our fun fact for the day! Did you know that, instead of holding celebrations, people are having more meaningful Coming-of-Age Day experiences these days? More and more young people who are coming of age are using this opportunity to help others. For example, they’ll visit senior citizens or facilities for the physically challenged on Coming-of-Age Day.
Now it’s time to answer our quiz question: which present do most people want? Well, it’s a kiss. It certainly seems like you would have a wonderful Coming-of-Age Day if you receive twenty roses and a kiss from the person you love!
Well, listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn a lot?
What kind of gifts are given in your country to celebrate the coming of age?
Please leave us a comment at KoreanClass101.com.
And we'll see you next time!