Psychoanalysis.  2010 Oct;21(2):89-96.

Infant Play of Traditional Korean Society in the View of Attachment Theory

  • 1Department of Neuropsychiatry, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Neuropsychiatry, Seoul Eulgi General Hospital, Eulgi University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


In both the Western and Easter societies, attachment is the essence of the parent-child relationship and the prototype for a life-long relationship in adulthood. Can we identify a unique way of forming attachment in Korean tradition? We tried to find the key to this question by investigating ten traditional infant plays from the perspective of attachment theories. Around three months after birth, a baby will imitate "Dori-dori (shaking the head)" and subsequently begin to play "Chakcha-koong (clapping)", "Gonji-gonji (poking the palm with a finger)", and Jam-jam (opening and shutting the hands). These activities help the baby take the first step to form attachment. An eight or nine-month-old baby plays like "Gonei-gonei (standing up on the palm)", "Taro-taro (standing up on the floor)", "Boolmoo-boolmoo (walking with the body supported by a caretaker)" and "Moodung-tagi (riding on the shoulders)" help a baby focus on an object, while building attachment and improving motor skill and strength. Around 18 months, a baby will make a rapid progress in language use and prepare for toilet training. "Danji-palgi (piggy-back ride in the horizontal direction)" facilitates these processes and helps achieve socialization. "Jajang-ga (lullaby)" is useful in any developmental stage, but is especially beneficial in this period for expanding vocabulary and getting a baby to an easy sleep without fear or anxiety. Traditional plays make infants feel their caretakers' sensitivity and responsiveness, experience their caretakers as available figures, construct 'the security base' in their inner world and develop infants' mentalizing capacity.


Traditional play; Infant; Attachment; Korean
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