GOT7’s Jackson recently revived a very familiar complaint on JTBC’s “Ask Us Anything!”
The quiz that Jackson presented to the cast was “What about Korean culture do I find hard to understand?” The answer turned out to be “fast” or “early” birthdays.
In Korea, people that are born in the same year are considered to be “friends” and usually require no special deference or honorific when speaking to each other. However, people born in January or February (prior to the start of the school year in March) can enter the grade of the students born a year before, and might be considered to be part of that age group rather than the one of their birth year.
When Jinyoung asked if he had a target in mind when he asked the question, Jackson said, “It’s our team leader, JB.” JB was born in January 1994 while Jackson was born two months later in March 1994. Jackson calls JB hyung, though he has expressed confusion over this distinction many times in the past.
“There’s only two months between us,” Jackson explained. “At first I didn’t know. Everyone else called him hyung, so I did too. But after a year and a half, I asked him what year he was born in, and he said he was born in January 1994. I asked him why I had to call him hyung.”
He added, “It’s cool now” but went on to say, “And I understand that this is a school thing, if they get into school first then you have to call them hyung. But we didn’t go to the same school! So why? I’m a foreigner as well.”
Yugyeom pointed out that the problem started because Jackson automatically started calling JB hyung at first, but Jackson said that he tried to call JB “B-Boy King” before JB told him to call him hyung instead. (They then re-enacted the scene, which was a lot less dramatic than Jackson originally painted it.)