Mickey Mouse is dipping his gloves into Korean culture with a new episode telling the story of a traditional first birthday party and doljabi ceremony.
In the "Mickey Mouse Funhouse" episode, released Friday, Mickey and his friends attend the doljanchi, or first birthday of Ae-Che, a Korean tiger. The gang observes a cultural ceremony in which the toddler selects an object from a bunch of items laid out on a table to predict what she'll be when she grows up.
“The traditional items are generally an apple or some kind of fruit to represent health; coins represent good fortune; a paintbrush to represent an artist; and a pencil to represent being a writer or a scholar,” Hanah Lee Cook, who wrote the episode, told Disney's official fan club site D23. “I have been to a couple of doljabi ceremonies for my younger cousins, where they have included a stuffed animal, which could represent that they’ll be a veterinarian, or a stethoscope, [so] maybe they’ll be a doctor.”
The storyline also has several nods to Korean mythology, including showcasing Dokkaebi, Korean goblins.
“I did not grow up with too many representations of Korean culture,” Cook said. “So, it’s my own little way of ‘paying it forward’ to the next generation. It’s also an amazing opportunity for kids who are not Asian, or do not come from Korean culture, to learn about other traditions.”