HADO-RI, South Korea — On a recent morning, as she has for 60 years, Kim Eun-sil carried her diving gear to a rocky beach on the eastern side of this island to spend the day free-diving in water more than 20 feet deep to harvest seafood by hand. Kim, 80, figures she can work a few more years at a job women here have done for centuries but which now is fast disappearing. Until he died four years ago, he had no complaints against me. Using only flippers and goggles — no breathing equipment — they scour the sea bottom for abalone, conch and octopus. But the work is hard and dangerous.
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A politician in the ultra-modern Asian country is working to overturn a centuries-old tradition which sees babies become one-year-old on the day of their birth - and then get an additional year tacked on when the calendar hits January 1. The move comes amid complaints the system is an anachronistic, time-wasting custom which drags down an otherwise forward thinking nation. What the heck! It could be that ancient Koreans cared a lot about the year in which they were born in the Chinese year cycle but, without regular calendars, did not care much about the specific day they were born; so they mostly ignored the day of their birth and instead marked another year of age on the day of the Lunar New Year, according to senior curator Jung Yonhak, at the National Folk Museum of Korea. This may have then shifted to the solar new year on January 1 as the South began embracing the Western calendar.
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