Family Life
In traditional Korea, the typical family was large with three or four generations usually living together. Because infant mortality was high and a big family was thought of as a blessing, having many children was desired. However, the rapid industrialization and urbanization of the country in the 1960s and 1970s were accompanied by an effective birth control drive, and the average number of children in a family dramatically decreased to two or less in the 1980s.

Having a long Confucian tradition under which the eldest son takes over as head of the family, a preference for sons was prevalent in Korea. To tackle the problem of male preference, the government has completely rewritten family-related laws in a way that ensures equality for sons and daughters in terms of inheritance.

Industrialization of the country has made life more hectic and complicated. Young married couples have begun to separate from their extended families and start their own homes. Now almost all families are couple-centered nuclear families.

 

Marriage
Koreans think marriage is the most important passage in one's life and a divorce is regarded as a disgrace not only for the couple but also for their families ― even though the divorce rate is growing rapidly these days.  Today's typical wedding ceremony is somewhat different from what it was in old times: first a Western-style ceremony is usually held at a wedding hall or a church with the bride wearing a white dress and the groom wearing a tuxedo, then later in the day the bride and groom have a traditional ceremony at a different room in the venue, in colorful traditional costumes.

 

Jerye (Ancestral Memorial Rite)
According to a traditional Korean belief, when people die, their spirits do not immediately depart; they stay with descendants for four generations. During this period the deceased are still regarded as family members and Koreans reaffirm the relationship between ancestors and descendants through jerye on the special days like Sollal (Lunar New Year's Day) and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day), as well as on the anniversary the ancestors passed away. Koreans also believe that people can live well and happily thanks to benefits their ancestors bestow upon them.

 

Body Language
When you beckon to a person, do so with your palm down, and then flutter your hand up and down with your fingers touching together. It is not polite to beckon with your palm up ― especially using only one finger, because Koreans do that only for dogs!

 

Traditional Korean Clothing (Hanbok)
The hanbok has been the Korean people's unique traditional costume for thousands of years. The beauty and grace of Korean culture can be seen in photographs of women dressed in the hanbok.  Before the arrival of Western-style clothing one hundred years ago, the hanbok was everyday attire. Men wore jeogori (Korean jackets) with baji (trousers) while women wore jeogori with chima (skirt). Today, the hanbok is worn on days of celebration such as wedding, Seollal (Lunar New Year's Day) or Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day).

 

Traditional Korean Houses
A traditional Korean house is called 'Hanok'. Hanok sought to create a living space based on the coexistence of nature and humans. Accordingly, the natural aspects of a traditional Korean houses range from the structure's inner layout to the building materials which were used. Another unique feature of traditional houses is their special design for cooling the interior in the summer and heating the interior in the winter. Since Korea has such hot summers and cold winters, the 'ondol gudeul,' a floor-based heating system and 'daecheong,' a cool wooden-floor style hall were devised long ago to help Koreans survive the frigid winters and to make the sweltering and humid summers bearable. These primitive types of heating and air-conditioning were so effective that they are still in use in many homes today.

 

ADD TO THIS PAGE!!  To contribute email info@flying-cows.com