I went to a wedding at Munhak Stadium in Incheon with my wife’s family yesterday. After the ceremony and requisite after-ceremony trip to the buffet line, we all gathered in the outside were the Mungyeong and Ansan branches of the family went over old times.
As we were getting ready to go, my mother-in-law gave my wife a couple of left-over chestnuts from the ceremony. The message was unmistakable; make another baby soon.
Considering that we have a super-cute but handful 10-month old baby right now, what’s the rush? As it turns out, my mother-in-law wants us to make a pig (as in the Year of the Pig). She is not alone (Chosun):
Korea’s birthrate is expected to inch up from 1.08 births per woman of child-bearing age to 1.1 in a sign that the downward trend that has worried pundits since 2001 is being reversed. Korea recorded the world’s lowest birthrate last year.
According to tentative figures, the number of newborns is expected to increase by some 8,000-10,000 this year from 438,062 last year. The birthrate is the number of babies a fertile woman gives birth to between the ages of 15 and 49. In fact, Korea will see something of a baby boom next year: marriages and pregnancies have increased due to superstitions surrounding this lunar year’s two first days of spring and the fact that next year is the Year of the Pig. Babies born in the Year of the Pig are said to have comfortable and prosperous lives. It remains to be seen whether the increase is a temporary or long-term trend.
To make things even more dramatic, next year is rumored to be the YEAR OF THE GOLDEN PIG (strobes, smoke, DongA):
Among young couples in Korea, there is a rapidly spreading rumor that 2007, the Year of the Pig, is actually the Year of the Golden Pig, which comes around only every 600 years. In East Asia, every year has a meaning of one of the five elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Accordingly, next year is the year of fire. The rumor says that since next year is the year of fire, next year can be viewed as “The Year of Red (the color of fire) Pig” and if you take into account yin and yang and the five elements, it is actually the Year of the Golden Pig.
That same DongA piece notes that the Chinese also seem to be pumped up about making babies this year. It also features scholars who insist that all this Golden Pig nonsense is just that (even by those who take such folklore seriously).
Be that as it may, anything that will help Korea boost its anemic birth rate is a good thing.