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Hyeon Chung Il: Memorial Day in Korea

Each year, Koreans observe their Memorial Day in commemoration of all their fallen soldiers. Memorial Day in Korea is similar to the U.S. Memorial Day, though of course with its own cultural nuances (such as the South Korean Flag meaning in ceremonies).

At KoreanClass101.com, we hope to make learning about Korean culture and holidays both fun and informative, because this may be the most vital step in being able to master the language. That in mind, keep reading for more information on Memorial Day (South Korea).

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1. What is Memorial Day to Koreans?

Have you ever heard of Memorial Day in the United States of America? It’s a day to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the country.

In Korea, there is also a day like U.S. Memorial Day, known as Korean Memorial Day (Hyeon Chung Il). In Korea, in order to honor those who lost their lives for the country, the month of June has been known as the Month of Defense of Korea and Patriots and Veterans every year since 1954.

2. When is Memorial Day in Korea?

Memorial Day on June 6

For this holiday in Korean, June 6 is when South Korea celebrates its Memorial Day.

3. Reading Practice: How is Korean Memorial Day Celebrated?

How do Koreans commemorate this June 6 holiday in Korea? Read the Korean text below to learn about the traditions that accompany Korean Memorial Day, and find the English translation directly below it.

이 때가 되면 많은 사람들이 서울에 있는 현충원을 방문합니다. 국립 서울 현충원은 나라를 위해서 목숨을 잃은 분들이 묻힌 곳인데요. 6월 6일이 되면 이곳 현충원에 독립유공자와 국군 유가족, 대통령 그리고 국가 주요 인사들이 모여서 현충일 추념식을 갖습니다.

특히 현충일 추념식 중간에 순국선열을 위해서 묵념을 하는 시간이 있는데요. 이 때에는 현충원 뿐만 아니라 전국 여기저기에서 사이렌이 울리고, 전국에 있는 모든 사람들이 함께 묵념을 합니다. 사람들은 1분간 묵념을 하면서 고인의 명복을 빌게 됩니다. 또한, 서울 광화문로와 같은 전국의 주요도로에 다니는 모든 차량도 이 1분간은 잠깐 정지하게 됩니다.

현충일이 되면 초등학교나 중학교에서도 현충일과 관련된 다양한 행사가 열립니다. 특히 현충일 글짓기 행사와 포스터 그리기 행사가 대표적인데요. 이 행사에 참가한 학생들은 한국전쟁 때 나라를 위해서 싸웠던 국군 장병의 모습을 그리고, 지금도 휴전선 근처에서 나라를 지키고 있는 군인들에게 감사의 마음을 담은 글을 적습니다.

여러분 그거 아세요? 지금도 한국은 휴전 중이기 때문에, 아직도 휴전선 근처에서는 크고 작은 전투들이 종종 일어나고 있습니다. 그래서 최근까지도 적지 않은 국군장병들이 나라를 위해서 싸우다 목숨을 잃는 경우가 종종 생기는데요. 이렇게 목숨을 잃거나 다친 사람들을 한국 사람들은 “국가유공자”라고 부릅니다.

On this day, a lot of people visit Seoul National Memorial Cemetery in Seoul. Seoul National Memorial Cemetery is the burial site of those who lost their lives for their country. On June 6th, a ceremony that honors the veterans of Korean Memorial Day is held with the bereaved families of the dead soldiers, the contributors to independence, the President, and the National Key Personnel.

In particular, there is a moment of silence in the middle of the ceremony on Korean Memorial Day, to honor the Patriotic Martyr. During the moment of silence, a siren sounds across the country as well as in the Cemetery, and everyone in the country observes a moment of silence. For one minute of silence, people pray for the repose of the deceased. Also, all vehicles on the main roads of the country, such as Gwanghwamun ro, stop for one minute for the moment of silence.

When Memorial Day is drawing near, a variety of associated events take place in elementary and junior high schools. In particular, there are representative events such as creative writing and poster drawing on Korean Memorial Day. Students who participate in these events draw the soldiers who fought for the country during the Korean War, or write to the soldiers who still defend the country near the Military Demarcation Line, to express their gratitude to them.

Did you know that large and small battles are still often happening around the Military Demarcation Line despite Korea being under a flag of truce? So, until recently, a considerable number of soldiers have lost their lives during the fight for their country. Korean people call those who lose their lives or were injured “men of National Merit” (gukgayugongja).

4. Why June 6th?

Silent Tribute by Candlelight

Do you know why Memorial Day (Korea) is on June 6th?

In Korea, a year is divided into twenty-four. In those twenty-four divisions, June 6th is the first day of the ninth period. And since old times, various sacrifices have been made on this day. That’s why the South Korean government set June 6th as Korean Memorial Day (Hyun Choong Il) when the government decided the Memorial Day in 1954.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Korean Memorial Day

South Korean Flag

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Memorial Day in South Korea!

  • 현충일 (hyeonchungil) — “Memorial Day”
  • 태극기 (taegukgi) — “Flag of South Korea”
  • 묵념 (mungnyeom) — “silent tribute”
  • 애국 (aeguk) — “patriotism”
  • 국군 (gukgun) — “national army”
  • 애국가 (aegukga) — “national anthem”
  • 순국 선열 (sunguk seonyeol) — “martyr”
  • 목숨 (moksum) — “life”
  • 6월 6일 (yuwol yugil) — “June 6th”
  • 영웅 (yeongung) — “hero”
  • 명복 (myeongbok) — “happiness in the next world”
  • 호국 (hoguk) — “defense of one’s country”
  • 국립 서울 현충원 (gungnip seoul hyeonchungwon) — “Seoul National Cemetery”
  • 조의 (joui) — “mark of respect to the dead”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our Korean Memorial Day vocabulary list. Here, each word is listed alongside an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

What do you think about Memorial Day in Korea? Does your country observe a Memorial Day? Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about the culture of Korea, its history, and of course the Korean language, visit us at KoreanClass101.com! We believe that language-learning should be both fun and informative, something to look forward to and a steady path toward your goals. There’s something here for every learner, from free Korean vocabulary lists, insightful blog posts like this one, and an online community forum to discuss lessons with fellow students. You can also begin using our MyTeacher program by upgrading to Premium Plus!

We hope that you took away something valuable from this article, and that you’ll continue to immerse yourself in everything Korean with us. Your hard work will pay off, and we’ll be here for every step of your Korean-learning journey!

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