“There’s a ritual in Korea called “Doljabi,” which happens on the baby’s first birthday. For my first birthday, my parents tell me that we invited all the close family friends and that I was dressed in hanbok, traditional dress. They put objects in front of me, like books, a paintbrush, a toothbrush, a soccer ball, money, etc. to represent what I’d choose as a career path or value (teacher, artist, dentist, etc.) I think the idea is really cool, but it’s not really 100% accurate. Apparently, I chose a toothbrush, but I’m not studying to become a dentist, so life works out in different ways.”


I had this conversation with a friend in person, and mostly wrote down and paraphrased what she said.


This festival marks an important change in the baby’s life, as a very early coming of age. Having completed one full year of being in the world, they get the agency to “choose” their own life path, and while this might not actually be the one they pursue, it highlights the social importance of one’s career in Korean as many others are invited to watch this event.