The trend of online first-birthday party among Korean mothers (mums)-(2)

As I mentioned how the first-birthday party (Dol Jan-chi) is important in Korea, most of parents (especially mothers) prepare the birthday party table with all their hearts for their birthday baby and the guests. At the birthday party, the party host (parents) share their baby’s growing diary during last 1 year through showing photos and a video. Furthermore, various interactive activities  about their baby between the guests and the host such as quiz bring the guests to enjoy the baby’s first-birthday party better. Yes, this is a predictable baby’s first-birthday party even though you never experience it in Korea. (because birthday party is birthday party!)

But, one thing that I would like to introduce to you today is, there is an online first-birthday party in Korea today! The online first-birthday party (Online Dol Jan-chi) is literally means a birthday party for a baby who became 1 year old in an online space such as blog and social media. This online first-birthday party is now the trend among young Korean mums. Once they have the offline first-birthday party, then they celebrate their babies’ first-birthday party in online spaces (e.g. their blogs). For the offline birthday party, the guests are mostly their family members, colleagues and anyone who are very close to the baby’s parents. However, our mums and ajummas are now smart Ajummas (or smart mums)! They frequently cross the online and offline spaces through using the Internet connection and digital mobile devices such as smartphones in their everyday lives. These smart mums and ajummas enrich their networks wider and enjoy daily lives better through having unconstrained and borderless communication with their contacts in both online and offline spaces. Thus, the online first-birthday party (online Dol Jan-chi) is held for mums’ contacts whom are mostly ‘blog neighbours’. (blog neighbours= bloggers become neighbours through communicating in blog space, it is similar to follower or friends)

On online first-birthday party day, the host informs the date and time for the party through a blog post or a message. The party goes usually for 24 hours or few days. Then what the guests do or how do they enjoy the online party? It is very simple. The guests visit the blog and then they will watch a video or photos of baby’s growing diary for last one year. And usually there is a special event for the guests such as a quiz or leaving message for a baby on the blog. Once they write answers for the quiz or left birthday messages for the baby on the blog, the host (parents) pick some guests randomly to give lucky gifts. (Lucky gifts for the online first-birthday party  are various such as a mobile voucher (Starbucks drink voucher), baby goods, cosmetics, movie tickets and etc.) The guests for this online first-birthday party are mostly ‘mums’ or ‘ajummas’ today, so the lucky gifts are prepared for especially for mums.

Here is a beautiful example of online first-birthday party (online Dol Jan-chi) on Naver blog, <jjorang’s>. On her blog, you will see what the online first-birthday party is.

Online first-birthday party (online Dol Jan-chi) will be proliferating continuously with the use of digital mobile technology is pervasive in our everyday lives, especially mums and ajummas in Korea. I think this (online first-birthday party [online Dol Jan-chi] could be explained as the digital remediation. However, it should be developed continuously. In other words,this kind of Korean traditional culture should be recreated and developed more to establish the unique Korean culture in online space rather than repeating the same thing (e.g.birthday party/online birthday party) by only changing the spaces (online or offline). Then we will have distinct traditional Korean culture that exist in online and offline (or in between online and offline). These two culture that are in different spaces develop their characters differently (because of the difference of spaces) but still, they were derived from the same root.

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The trend of online first-birthday party among Korean mothers (mums)-(1)

What do you feel about the first-birthday party? Of course, I don’t remember my first-birthday party but I do know my parents, grandparents and anyone who knew me came to the party to celebrate my first-birthday party almost thirty something years ago. We call it ‘Dol Jan-chi’ in Korean which means Dol is for first birthday and Jan-chi is for party. On first-birthday party, mothers (and fathers as well) prepare the special feast table, Dol-sang. On the Dol-sang, usually a book, money, rice, noodle, jujube, a pencil, thread are placed beforehand. When parents seat the baby in front of the table, the baby picks up one of the objects for fun, which helps the family to foretell the baby’s future. For example. if the baby picks thread, it means she or he will live a long life. There is a traditional Korean style Dol-sang for the baby’s first-birthday party, but mothers also do prepare the modern type of Dol-sang in these days. As other countries (I experienced that Australian people also think the first-birthday part is important like as Korean people) think the first-birthday party is important because the baby grows well last 12 months (1 year) and the parents also hope their baby lives well for the rest of her (or his) life. At the same time, the parents want to share the happiness with the guests and express appreciation to the guests as well. So they share the food that the parents prepared for and the guests give words of blessing to the birthday baby.

Like this, the first-birthday party is a big thing for the parents and the baby. So they try to prepare the ‘best’ birthday party for their baby and the guests. In my case, my grandma and mum prepared all the food at home for lots of guests. Yes, it was the home party which is very classic and traditional style of the first-birthday party. At that time (about 30 something years ago) this kind of first-birthday party was the only and common thing for everyone. How about today?

Some of my friends got babies and whenever I saw the photos of the first-birthday party on the Instagram, it is quite different from my birthday party. These days, the birthday table becomes more fancy (e.g. matching colours with dishes, flowers and props on the table) and the parents also prepare the ‘online first-birthday party’ besides the actual birthday party (offline birthday party).

In 2006, there was a service for a party given to a hundred-day-old baby in Cyworld. Similar to the first-birthday party (Dol Jan-chi), the hundredth day since the baby was born is important day to celebrate in Korea. Usually, this 100th day party isn’t as big as the first-birthday party but the parents still prepare the ‘white rice cake’ for 100 people includes their family, neighbours, friends or anyone they know. For the baby’s 100th day, Cyworld provided a service for the parents who wanted to celebrate their baby’s 100th day through Cyworld in 2006. Through using the baby Cyworld (specially designed for the parents who want to have online space for their baby), the parents were able to celebrate their baby’s birthday with their Cyworld Il-chon (Cyworld’s friends). Also, Cyworld gave 100 white rice cake for baby’s 100th day birthday, so the parents could send cyber-rice cake item to their fiends in Cyworld. With this cyber-rice cake, people could decorate their mini hompy. (It is common thing to distribute 100 white rice cake to people on baby’s 100th day birthday in Korea. People believe that distributing the white rice cake will bring the baby’s healthy life)

–I couldn’t find any image reference of the white rice cake item on Cyworld and the baby Cyworld couldn’t be found anymore.

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Mum and her son use the Cyworld’s baby service together (2006)

Image from SK communications, <http://www.newswire.co.kr/newsRead.php?no=123837>

Blog post about ‘online first-birthday party’ will be uploaded soon.