1) Original Performance: “세 살 버릇 여든까지 간다”
Romanization/Transliteration: Sae sal buh-leut yuh-deun kkaji ganda
Full Translation (Literal / Dynamic): “A three year old’s habits go till the age of 80” / “Old habits last a lifetime”
2) The informant is my grandfather, a Korean who immigrated to the US in the 1970s. My grandfather learned this piece from his elementary school teacher, during a scolding apparently. He told me this piece because he believes that as I am still young, it has great value for me to hear. He says that if I can develop good habits now, I can benefit for the rest of my life.
3) This was performed along with a set of four Korean proverbs that I asked my grandfather to tell me while eating dinner at his house a month or so ago. I specifically asked him to tell me his four favorite or most inspirational proverbs that he could think of.
4) This proverb rings of Korea’s Confucian value system and provides some insight as to why children are held to an extremely high standard of discipline at a young age. This is even reflected in Korea’s speaking system, wherein young people use a specialized, elevated form of speech when talking to their elders. It is through perpetual systems like these that young Korean’s can develop the “habits” referred to in this proverb.