Jun Dishes

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Korean Dol – First Birthday

In Korean, a baby’s first birthday is called Dol (pronounced dohl). Yesterday was Noah’s Dol. And having my mother here, I thought, was just perfect. But yesterday morning my mother brought out a “surprise birthday gift” for Noah, a Hanbok (pronounced hahn-bohk).

HanbokI started crying. Noah had no idea why I was crying, and he won’t know until he is older. My mother and I had already planned on making Korean food for his Dol, but I never expected to have Noah in a traditional Korean Hanbok. Ever.

DolHanbokI wore a Hanbok on my Dol, as did my younger brother. For me, growing up a Korean-American in New York City meant balancing at all times how Korean and/or American I was. For Noah, growing up a Korean-American-Belgian in Ghent, having these photos to look back on will help him better balance who he is.

In addition to wardrobe and food, there is also a fortune-telling game called the Doljabi (dohl-ja-bee). You put before the baby, four to five items to choose from. We had rice, money, a pencil and a spool of yarn. Whichever item the baby grabs first represents what is to come in their bright future.

DoljabiNoah grabbed for the rice, spilling it over and onto the rug and making all of us laugh.  In the Doljabi, rice represents a life where you will never go hungry. Money represent wealth, a pencil represent academic excellence, and yarn represents longevity. Noah’s choice of rice, although there was no right or wrong, made my heart swell. If I have anything to do with it, he will surely never go hungry.

DragonBabyAt Noah’s Dol, were all his grandparents. Davy’s parents, long divorced, and their partners were here. My mother was here, which I consider a blessing. Missing, was my father. But Noah, born last year in the Year of the Dragon, shares the dragon sign with my father. And so we made sure to have a fierce dragon hanging in the room.

The Dol is over, although we have one more birthday party to throw on Sunday for friends and more family. I’m incredibly tired and emotional and overwhelmed with so many thoughts running through my mind and the rapid beating of my heart. But I feel so blessed for so many reasons and so proud to have given Noah his once-in-a-lifetime first birthday as a Korean dol.

HalmuhneeNoahMy mother, as beautiful as ever, could not stop smiling all day.

Always dishing,





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    • Jun Song on March 24, 2013 at 9:50 pm said:


      Thank you Jodi. I feel like having a baby has made me appreciate my Korean heritage more than I have ever before :)

  • Oh my gosh, how incredible

    I have to admit with Noah’s love of food for the entire last year, choosing the rice seemed so fitting lol

    Amazing he shares the year of the dragon with your Dad

    Momz just rocks. Period.

    Bless you all for many more awesome memory making times! xoxo

  • So wonderful that you keep your tradition going. Happy Birthday mom.. its been a crazy year.. and you did it. hugs I hope i get to meet you next winter when we stop by Ghent.

    • Jun Song on March 24, 2013 at 10:41 pm said:


      Thank you. It has. But it has for you too! :)

      OMG, you totally need to let us know! I just mentioned it to Davy and he’s down for meeting up!

  • Heartwarming. Poignant. Personal. Thank you Jun for sharing Noah’s Dol with us. I was moved to tears remembering all you have been through this year. Truly, Noah is a great blessing. May he always bring you joy and may he never be hungry <3

    • Jun Song on March 24, 2013 at 10:40 pm said:


      Thank you M :)

      Noah is such a blessing to so many people, and for that he will receive love (and food) his whole life! :)

  • What a wonderful day for you and your family, that is totally what making memories is about. I’m sure your father is looking down with much love and admiration at what a fine young man he is and what a wonderful mother you are. Thank you for sharing.

    • Jun Song on March 24, 2013 at 10:39 pm said:


      Thank you Melissa :) It was such a memorable day and I’m relieved I was able to pull it off. So much on my mind, but all the work was worth it :)

    • Jun Song on March 24, 2013 at 10:38 pm said:


      I feel like she was more beautiful on Thursday than ever before! It’s all the love :)

      Thanks so much for the message :)

  • Kim Bates on March 22, 2013 at 10:45 pm said:


    How sweet of you to share that with us! Thank you! When my son received his black belt in Taekwondo I felt so much pride for him for learning a lot about Korean culture and customs and respecting his Dobok and all it signifies. He just received his official Dan certificate .. we are so proud!

    • Jun Song on March 24, 2013 at 10:37 pm said:


      How cute! Awww! Yes, respect for elders/superiors is so important in Korean culture :)

      Black belt?! Serious! :)

  • Now that’s something very, very, very special!! Happy 1st Birthday, Noah!!! Now you can hang on to the Hanbok and maybe when Noah has his own baby, he can pass it along and keep it in the family :)

  • He looks so bedazzled by his splendid clothes, but he still looks good in them! I helped a roommate pick out a Little Emperor suit in Chinatown for her nephew, and they are all so cute! When he’s bigger he can get one of those hats with the long streamer to dance with, he’ll be even more of a chick magnet.

    Momz did a great job representing Songs past and present, and I’m so glad Noah’s chicken pox cleared up for his party. We all forward to seeing Noah in subsequent cowboy and little Dutch boy outfits! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Jun Song on March 24, 2013 at 10:31 pm said:


      It was so cute, he would fuss and then get distracted by all the colors on his sleeves hahahah!

      Sigh. It was an awesome day.

      Oh, I totally photoshopped his chickenpox out of the photos! Bwahahah!

  • I have to admit I got a little verklempt. I shared the pics with Mr. Sparky and he loved them. I shall remember all this in case Sean and Rose ever have a child so that we can celebrate his/her dol. What a beautiful tradition.

    • Jun Song on March 24, 2013 at 10:30 pm said:


      Mr. Sparky’s the coolest. If Sean and Rose become parents, I will be keeping an eye out for you holding a grandbaby wearing a hanbok! :)

  • What a precious gift – Momz being there and bringing the wonderful surprise. And how cute is it that she kept it from you until Noah’s dol! And what an absolute doll he is in it. Is this a family garment? I think I recall seeing you all dressed up & perhaps the picture was from your dol? I really feel the pride swelling in Momz’ heart – for her baby girl & her precious Noah Jowah. xo

  • MelindaMathis88 on March 23, 2013 at 7:50 am said:


    Your mom looks beautiful and I am glad she was able to be there for Noah! He looks wonderful, the outfit is wonderful and I am very happy he is over the chicken pox in time for his birthday!! It is also great Davey’s parents were there, but know that I am sure your dad was looking over the day and smiling! Noah is lucky to have you all and I hope he had a great Dol!!

    • Jun Song on March 24, 2013 at 10:27 pm said:


      Momz was originally supposed to come in the summer time but we were like “WTF let’s have her here for Noah’s first birthday!” HA!

      Noah’s grandparents couldn’t be prouder. They never expected to be grandparents in the first place because Davy swore up and down he’d never have kids ha!

      Sigh. My dad is surely watching and smiling. I’d give so much to have him here :)

  • Anonymous on March 23, 2013 at 10:38 am said:


    Happy birthday noah ! what a cute litlle boy , he looks amazing with that outfit , give my regards to dave x

  • Beautiful, tear inducing happiness is what I sense here 😀 I love it! Happy Birthday, Noah. I can’t believe it’s already been a whole YEAR! Hope you have another amazing party today, dear boy!

  • With my sister’s visit bidding me farewell (more to come on that)…my reading of this was delayed. I absolutely love that we, the public and your fans/friends, get an educated look into your life, traditions, family and beautiful life.

    Jun, you have such a beautiful life because you are such a beautiful person. I am so curious about Korean culture and history because of Amy. Ironically, she has no desire in her heritage as she never connected with that side of her family due to her family.

    I’ve tried to encourage her but she has no interest so it is not place to push. But, because my son has 1/4 Korean heritage running thru him, I want to know all I can….in case he ever asks. I am so glad you share for freely.

    Noah is such a blessed and loved little boy and I am so very happy Momz has been there to celebrate with you him, you and Davy on this awesome benchmark of his life!

    Thank you for letting us be attendees of the celebration via your sharing! So incredible!

    • Jun Song on March 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm said:


      OMG Shelly, you’re going to make me cry. Thank you for having gotten to know me “way back when” and reconnecting with me again like this. Amy is lucky to have you, as is your little man. His 1/4 Korean heritage will play a role in his life at some point, completely up to him, and he will have you to lean on and support him :)

      I’m happy to share because so many are just as happy to share with me, you being one of them :)

  • Did momz have to get the hanbok from Korea or are their Korean shops in the U.S. where you can buy such a thing? Or is it handmade? How do they make the socks hold that curve and then swoop to a point? Weird questions I know, but that’s how my mind works. Beautiful pictures!! Now about that dragon. Is that something you can buy in……….haha!

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