Korean birthdays are confusing

As we celebrated a long weekend with Family Day, the Koreans were celebrating the Lunar New Year.
Half the South Korean population was expected to be travelling this past weekend to visit parents and grandparents.
This family holiday is much like Christmas here as Canadians travel to be with family, or the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. And like most cultures, the Koreans celebrate with favourite dishes, cakes, cookies, and sweets.
When Marnie and I travelled about downtown Seoul, in the sewing and fabric street section the “Hanbok,” a traditional Korean dress from the Joseon Dynasty, was prominently displayed in all colours and sizes.
The simple design without pockets features vibrant colours. The dresses can be a rich silk colour, or may be intricately embroidered.
While we celebrate New Year’s on Jan. 1, the Koreans and many others in the Far East celebrate on the Lunar New Year. Children bow to their parents, grandparents, and older relatives and, in turn, receive a blessing and gifts of money.
Koreans celebrate their age on the lunar calendar. On the day one is born, they are one year old. ?
?When the next Lunar New Year begins, they add another year to their age.
So for instance, if one was born on Jan. 1 of this year, this past weekend they would celebrate their second birthday and now would be two.
It is really confusing.
All males in Korea go into the military for two years when they turn 20. After the completion of their service, they are required to receive training regularly and can be reactivated anytime during the next seven years of their life.
One can’t get a driver’s licence in Korea until you turn 20.
The government of South Korea is now beginning to clamp down on how late students can go to school. Education is greatly valued, and competition for placement in better schools begins before kids get to elementary or secondary schools.
As a result, parents are paying to send their children to private schools called “Hogwans” after school hours. There, they will receive lessons in math, science, languages, and specialized tutoring.
Many “Hogwans” hold classes until 11 p.m. Students then can be expected to do homework until 1 or 2 a.m. before crashing to begin school the next day.
The government is trying to pass legislation so that students won’t be in school after 9 p.m.
Often the students are going to the “Hogwans” to learn English. Children begin at three or four years of age, and can write stories in full English sentences before they enter kindergarten.
At our hotel, and at tourist sites and museums, we always were able to speak with someone who understood English. Public signage throughout Seoul often has an English component.
Even when we could not converse to pay bills, we would be shown the numeric figure, which would make payment easy.
And even then, the people would apologize for not speaking English—and we would acknowledge their efforts.

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