Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Korean Traditions about Childbirth/Parenting

[After talking about this with my good friend Frank I decided I needed to devote a post to it. This post is devoted to the oddities of Korean traditions regarding their children.  While I do not agree with the vast majority of the way that Korean children are brought into this world or raised, I acknowledge that the American and Korean cultures are completely different.  I have a deep respect for any woman that is strong enough to bring another human being into this world.  Please take my words at face value and realize these are just my viewpoints, not an attack on the Korean culture as a whole.]

#103. Traditionally, boys were treasured and girls were thought of as 'leftovers'. Just as in China, boys were sought after instead of girls because the new male generation would be able to work in the fields and also keep the family name from dying out.  If a wife was unable to give birth to a boy, then a surrogate mother was sought after to provide a male child. The mother-in-law would choose the surrogate mother for her son.  No thank you.  If I can't provide my husband with a boy then he will freaking accept a little girl.

#104. During childbirth, the mother was restricted to only seeing things of beauty. It was believed anything that the mother looked at would influence the child's appearance such as shape and features. For instance, mothers would not be able to look at dead flowers since it would have a negative omen for the childbirth.
#105. The expecting mother was and still is placed on a strict diet.  The diet usually excluded spicy or hot foods, ugly foods, and broken pieces of food or even duck. Spicy/hot foods were excluded because the mother is already hot, therefore it would clash with the creation of the baby. Eating ugly food could result in an ugly child, which included bruised foods or a food that had a blemish.  Broken foods include things like broken noodles broken crackers and et cetera. Then there were the animals such as duck that were excluded from the diet since it would give the child "webbed" feet or other unwanted features.

#106.  Korean mothers are made to keep quiet throughout the entire childbirth process. This is from the belief that screaming shows signs of shame and weakness which will be passed along to the child.  If I am in the process of squeezing a human life out of my body and I want to scream there is no one on this earth that would think of stopping me.  A sign of weakness?  I think not.

#107. After birth, the baby is usually with the mother at all times, even when sleeping. At this time, the mother is only allowed to eat warm foods and drinks (even in the summer) since the mothers are considered "cold".  A common soup was "miyuk guk", a kind of seaweed soup, since it was to clean out the toxins from childbirth and was to be eaten by the mother for four weeks after giving birth.  4 weeks of the same food.  I like a bit of variety in my diet thank you.

#108. From the time the baby is young, it is a common action for parents to massage the baby's legs to increase growth and make the baby tall..

#109. More recently, parents also like to massage the eyelids of the baby while sleeping to try to get the baby to grow eye folds.

There you go.  Koreans and their childbirth and parenting skills.  I think the American way suits me just a little bit better.


  1. Did you know that the man is the one to determine whether the baby is a girl or a boy? So this BS about the woman being "unable to give birth to a boy" is just male superiority crap!

  2. Well I guess I'm glad I'm in the good ole USA

  3. I have decided that this post is a nod to your prego friend in America. Love ya, lady! And bummer about the ankle... Only Jenn!