Saturday, January 2, 2016

TWICE member comparison chart and the family book confusion

How long has TWICE debuted? Not very long is my short answer. Describing their popularity shot up like a rocket blasting into space is not an exaggeration.

I've had so much of their debut song Like Ooh-Ahh - (Ooh-Ahh 하게) in their MV, dance practice and regular music shows - countless videos alraedy. The amazing fact is I never grow tired of it.

They become popular enough to be featured on Weekly Idol. Based on information from the show, someone (Instagram: @jihyo.twice) compiled a chart comparing members of TWICE.

The chart is a good summary of the show, and a very valuable piece of infographic indeed!

The obvious question is of course, the age of the members. The maker stated that "Jihyo (early 97-liner) is friends with 96-liners but Mina born in the next month considers Jihyo as a more senior person". So, why are Mina and Jihyo who are born in the same year are treated differently? And it appear puzzling that Jihyo treats those born in the previous year as people of her age. It appears that this "family book confusion" has no explanation, and Jihyo is playfully named the culprit.

Let me tell you this. There is an explanation for seniority in K-pop groups and it has to be done from an East Asian perspective. Are you ready?

Seniority in South Korea is calculated based not on the Western calendar but the lunisolar calendar. The lunisolar calendar was invented to mark seasons, each lasting two weeks, to facilitate agricultural activities. That's because China and East Asia in general were agrarian societies in the past. Interestingly, the date of each season is fixed in the Western calendar. The new year in the lunisolar calendar falls on 4th of February [in the Western calendar] each year.

What about the date of Lunar New Year? For the purpose of determining a person's age, the date of Lunar New Year isn't used. The same point has been iterated by Chinese Feng Shui masters for determining Chinese zodiacs.

Now look at the chart again. Jihyo was born on 1st of February 1997 and that puts her in the same rank of seniority to those born in 1996.

Next question: How do I come up with this explanation? First off, I am a Chinese and observe the lunisolar calendar. One fact is, East Asian cultures are very similar to each other because they stem from common roots. There are many things of East Asia that do not make sense from the Western perspective, but make a lot of sense to me. While the job of K-pop news sites is to present news stories, but readers are free to judge the stories from their own cultural perspective, which may not be entirely correct. To judge a story accurately, reading commentaries and opinion pieces may help, and the actual key is to have good understanding of East Asian cultures.

Lastly, I must commend the Koreans for preserving the Confucianist values better than the Chinese.