May 5, Children’s Day Korea. You haven’t known 5 things

Children, rarely seen.

Thesedays, It is a rare scene that you see a child on the street in Korea. Actually, Korea has low birth rate, on the other hand, Korea has a special celebrating day for children. It might be main reason that we still keep and protect the day as a national holiday to wish the country to be safe and happy enough for our children. It is Children’s Day. Let’s get started to know about it.

Table of Contents

1. What is Children’s Day?

Children’s Day is called ‘어린이날’ in Korean and a national hoilday of Korea. It has been designated to grow children honest and wise, and improve the idea of loving children.

2. Why is it named 어린이날, not 아이들날?

When you translate Children’s Day in Korean, it is officially 어린이날, not 아이들날. After March First Independence Movement in 1919, in order to awaken children’s national spirit, it was started to found 소년회(Sonyeon Hwoi) which means association of little ones.

ref. writer 소걸음 from Brunch / from down left, Lee Tae Wun, Bang Jeong Hwan, Lee Soon Cheol / from upper left, Son Hee June, Kim Sang Geun

Mr. Bang Jung Hwan, who was studying art at Tokyo University got to realize that children at that time were out of the protection from society. He founded ‘천도교소년회’(Cheondogyo Sonyeon Hwoi) which means Cheondogyo Youth’s Association with Kim Ki Jeon and Lee Jung Ho to boost little ones movement in 1921.

Mr Bang’s idea of children is pure, free to play without worries. However, Joseon was Japanese colonial era at that time, it was harsh reality. Although the circumstances were tough, he tried to grow their dreams through various movements. One of them was to establish 어린이날(Children’s day), He created a new word ‘어린이’(little one) which was used to call a child. It meant that society needed to treat a child as an independent social member who had one’s own character and got respected.

3. How was Children’s Day designated at the date of May 5?

children's day poster1933
ref. the poster of Children’s Day 1933

In 1922, all of movement of youth, newspaper companies and etc discussed it, they designated children’s day at the date of May 1st. It meant ‘sprout’. In the same year, Cheondogyo Sonyeonhwoi (Cheondogyo Youth’s Association) declared it as Children’s Day.

children's day magazine
ref. The first magazine 어린이

Next year, the 16th of March 1923, Mr. Bang and other international students who were studying in Japan at that time established Saekdonghwoi, following month, the first pure children’s magazine 《어린이》 was published.

May 1st is overlapped with Labor Day. From 1927, They held the event on the first Sunday of May to encourage people to participate in more. There were plenty of events like child song&fairy tale contests, art exhibitions and etc that children could join in or watch.

As time went by, Children’s Day had got grown. The Japanese colonial government was afraid of inspiring national spirits of Joseon. They discontinued the magazine 《어린이》 in 1943, forced movements of youth to disperse and prohibited events related to Children’s Day. They made children stay at school and have classes even on Sundays not to participate in the events. For these reasons, Celebrating Children’s day was ceased.

광복절이후첫어린이날행사(일본민중신문사 해방1주년 기념 사진집)
ref. 일본 민중 신문사 해방 1주년 기념 사진집 / the first celebration of Children’s day after independence from Japan

Following year of independence, in 1946, to boost respecting 어린이, the magazine 《어린이》 got published again, the Korean Establishment Preparation Board revived Children’s Day.

The first Children’s Day was the first Sunday of May in 1946, To stop changing date yearly, Korea Government officially designated May 5 as Children’s day. It has been nowadays.

After that, celebration ceremony had been held by private organizations. Children spoke out hope and aspiration at the events and they were awarded or there had been lots of contests of music, dance, drawing, writing.

Since 1953, Government has leaded all the occasions.

4. The celebrating song

Click the picture, and you move to a new page that plays the song

It is composed in 1948. Typical children’s song consists of 4 phrases. Unlikely it consists of 5, 5, 6, 5 phrases. It probably has been written its rhyming verse with the date of Children’s day 5 May.


1. 날아라 새들아 푸른 하늘을

Fly to the blue sky birds

달려라 냇물아 푸른 벌판을

Run the green yard, streams

오월은 푸르구나 우리들은 자란다

How green May is We are growing

오늘은 어린이날 우리들 세상

Today is Children’s day Our world

2. 우리가 자라면 나라의 일꾼

When we grow up we are great workers of the nation.

손잡고 나가자 서로 정답게

Let’s go hand in hand friendly

오월은 푸르구나 우리들은 자란다

How green May is. We are growing

오늘은 어린이날 우리들 세상

Today is Children’s Day Our world

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