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Archive for the 'Korean Holiday' Category

A Couple’s Paradise: Christmas in South Korea

Did you know that South Korea has twelve days each year that celebrate (or mourn over, in the case of Black Day) love? And three of them are in December! 

While in Western cultures, people tend to associate Christmas with the birth of Jesus and time with family, most South Koreans perceive Christmas as a day for celebrating romance. In this article, you’ll learn about common South Korean traditions for Christmas, explore some of the most popular activities, and pick up some new vocabulary. 

Ready? Let’s go. 

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1. A South Korean Christmas

A Saint Bernard Dog Wearing a Christmas Hat in a Living Room with Christmas Decorations

Like many countries, South Korea has its own version of 크리스마스 (keuriseumaseu), or “Christmas,” celebrated each year on December 25. Christmas Day in South Korea has many similarities with that in other countries, though there are a few key differences. 

In South Korea, Christmas is less about the traditional story of Jesus’s birth and more about the holiday’s commercial aspects. The holiday is also heavily associated with romance and couples, as opposed to family.

Considering South Korea’s fairly large Christian population (anywhere from a quarter to a third of the population), some people view the holiday in its traditional religious light—though still not to the extent that people in the U.S. or many European nations do. 

2. Christmas Traditions in South Korea

South Koreans employ many of the same traditions and celebrations for Christmas as other countries do, though with a unique Korean twist. 

Valentine’s Day?

In most countries, Christmas means time with family. Well, the average Christmas celebration in South Korea is actually spent with one’s boyfriend or girlfriend, and not one’s family. For this reason, Christmas is often viewed as another ‘Valentine’s Day.’

As advertising increases and special deals are made available, people spend a lot of time looking for the perfect 선물 (seonmul), or “present,” for their significant other. Popular gifts include romantic items, such as chocolate, wine glasses, or lingerie. In addition to gift-giving, couples often go on a romantic date together. This often consists of a meal at a nice restaurant, time spent doing outdoor winter activities, and a night spent in a hotel. Of course, some couples opt to stay indoors during Christmas, snuggled in front of the 벽난로 (byeognanro), or “fireplace.”

The romantic nature of a South Korean Christmas is so prominent that people tend to feel lonely or sad if they have to spend the holiday as a single person.

Christmas Food

The Christmas food in South Korea is far different from what people in the U.S. and other countries are used to. 

Instead of having special food items or meals for the holiday, many Koreans indulge in the popular wintertime foods. These are often found in stalls while walking the streets or in restaurants. These foods include plenty of porridges, soups, spicy foods, and bready foods. You can sometimes find Western-style Christmas meals in certain restaurants, especially those in larger cities.


As for Christmas decorations in South Korea, you’ll mainly find these in public areas and not in residential areas. Walking through the cities or towns, you’ll find many businesses, restaurants, and other public locations decorated with Christmas lights, Christmas trees, and the like.

Other Traditions

In South Korea, many children are told about 산타 클로스 (santa keulloseu), or “Santa Claus.” Like in Western cultures, it’s said that Santa will bring gifts to the good children and not to the bad children. Many children call him 산타할아버지 (santaharabeoji), which means “Grandfather Santa.”

Similarly, South Korean children grow up singing about 루돌프 사슴코 (rudolpeu saseumko), or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” during Christmas. A few other Western Christmas songs are popular here, though most of the time, radios play Christmas-themed Korean pop music.

Some children enjoy playing in the 눈 (nun), or “snow,” if they were lucky enough to have a Christmas snow. 

3. Seoul At Christmastime

Not surprisingly, Seoul is a hotspot during the Christmas season. Tons of top-notch restaurants, bars, and shops can be found here, and Christmas is the perfect occasion to check them out with friends—as long as you don’t mind crowds!

A few popular areas include Kang Nam, Shin Chon, Jam Sil, and Ap Gu Jeong. Make sure to visit one or two of these places for a great time! 

4. Essential Vocabulary for Christmas

A Snowman

Let’s review some of the key vocabulary words from this article!

  • 눈 (nun) – “snow” [n]
  • 눈송이 (nunsongi) – “snowflake” [n]
  • 크리스마스 (keuriseumaseu) – “Christmas” [n]
  • 선물 (seonmul) – “present” [n]
  • 썰매 (sseolmae) – “sled” [n]
  • 굴뚝 (gulttuk) – “chimney” [n]
  • 벽난로 (byeognanro) – “fireplace” [n]
  • 크리스마스 종 (keuriseumaseu jong) – “bell” [n]
  • 눈사람 (nunsaram) – “snowman” [n]
  • 산타 클로스 (santa keulloseu) – “Santa Claus”
  • 루돌프 사슴코 (rudolpeu saseumko) – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
  • 순록 (sunnok) – “reindeer” [n]
  • 장식 (jangsik) – “decoration” [n]
  • 크리스마스 (Keuriseumaseu) – “Christmas Day”
  • 북극 (Bukgeuk) – “North Pole”
  • 크리스마스 양말 (keuriseumaseu yangmal) – “stocking” [n]
  • 겨우살이 (gyeousari) – “mistletoe” [n]
  • 과자집 (gwajajip) – “gingerbread house” [n]
  • 사탕 지팡이 (satang jipangi) – “candy cane” [n]
  • 화환 (hwahwan) – “wreath” [n]
  • 호랑 가시 나무 (horang gasi namu) – “holly” [n]
  • 꼬마 요정 (kkoma yojeong) – “elf” [n]

Remember that you can find each of these words, along with their pronunciation, on our list of Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Final Thoughts

Christmas in South Korea may not be exactly what one would expect, but it certainly possesses the warmth, excitement, and charm of Western Christmas celebrations. 

What are your thoughts on the South Korean version of Christmas? Would you ever like to visit for this special holiday? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments! 

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about Korean culture and the language, has several more blog posts we think you’ll like:

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One more thing before we go: How do you say “Merry Christmas” in Korean?

메리 크리스마스 (meri keuriseumaseu!)

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어린이날: Celebrating Children’s Day in South Korea

On Children’s Day, South Korea is alight with fun activities, lots of foot traffic, and smiling children. In this article, you’ll learn all about this festive Korean holiday and pick up some new vocabulary along the way.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Children’s Day in Korea?

Let’s begin with a little bit of Children’s Day history.

In the past, people had little concern over children’s rights or their place in society, which led to many Koreans foregoing a happy childhood. The novelist Bang Jeong-hwan saw this, and sought to create positive change in children’s lives. Thus, he worked to put together several organizations to help improve children’s lives and promote their rights. These organizations include The Rainbow Society and Cheondogyo Children’s Association.

Eventually, in 1923, Korea made Children’s Day an official holiday. During the Japanese occupation of Korea, celebrations for this holiday ceased for a while, but since its return, Children’s Day has been one of the most widely and fervently celebrated holidays in the country.

Today in South Korea, Children’s Day acts like a second birthday—one that all Korean children can celebrate at once!

2. When is Children’s Day Every Year?

A Group of Children Jumping Up in the Air

Each year, Koreans celebrate Children’s Day on May 5.

3. Children’s Day Celebrations and Traditions

On Children’s Day, parents seek to give their child or children a full day of fun. Many children enjoy going to the 동물원 (dongmurwon), or “zoo,” and an 놀이공원 (norigongwon), or “amusement park.” Oftentimes, parents will often take their child out for a meal at a nice restaurant, or for a simpler picnic lunch.

In addition, parents usually get their children a 어린이날 선물 (eorininal seonmul), or “gift for the Children’s Day.” Traditionally, gifts usually included simple toys, special treats such as cookies or crackers, and the like. But today, more and more children ask for things like iPads or iPhones.

Of course, there’s bound to be at least a little bit of time spent relaxing at home (or so the parents probably hope!). On television, there are often 어린이날 특선 만화 (eorininal teukseon manhwa), or “special animations for the Children’s Day,” that kids will enjoy watching during their off-time.

What about Koreans who are single or don’t have children? Couples will often go out on a date together or stay home and relax; single people may go out and participate in activities, or also relax at home.

4. Bang Jeong-hwan

Children’s Day is only one of many contributions to children that Bang Jeong-hwan made.

His entire career was dedicated to children, with many of his writings dealing with topics related to childhood and the triumph of good over evil. He wrote children’s literature, and even started a children’s literary magazine that ran for over a decade. His goals included improving children’s lives and educating the Korean population of how important it is to cherish children, especially in hard times.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Children’s Day

A Picnic Blanket and Basket Set Out on the Grass on a Nice Day

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Children’s Day in South Korea!

  • 동물원 (dongmurwon) — “zoo” [n.]
  • 소풍 (sopung) — “picnic” [n.]
  • 초등학교 (chodeunghakkyo) — “elementary school” [n.]
  • 어린이날 (Eorininal) — “Children’s Day” [n.]
  • 행사 (haengsa) — “event” [n.]
  • 어린이날 선물 (eorininal seonmul) — “gift for the Children’s Day” [n.]
  • 방정환 (Bang Jeong-hwan) — “Bang Jeong-hwan”
  • 놀이공원 (norigongwon) — “amusement park” [n.]
  • 장난감 (jangnangam) — “toy” [n.]
  • 어린이날 특선 만화 (eorininal teukseon manhwa) — “special animations for the Children’s Day” [n.]
  • 행복 (haengbok) — “happiness” [n.]
  • 아이 (ai) — “child” [n.]

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Korean Children’s Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Children’s Day in South Korea with us, and that you took away some valuable information.

Is there a Children’s Day in your country? If so, how do people celebrate it? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

To learn even more about Korean culture and the language, check out the following pages on

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Good luck learning, and Happy Children’s Day! 🙂

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Bucheonim oshin nal: The Buddha’s Birthday in Korea

In South Korea, Buddha’s Birthday is a major celebration dedicated to honoring the birth of Buddha, clearing one’s mind, and performing good deeds. In this article, you’ll learn all about Buddha’s Birthday celebration in South Korea, a little bit of the country’s religious background, and pick up some useful vocabulary.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is the Buddha’s Birthday?

South Korea doesn’t have a national religion. South Korea contains a mix of different religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, and Catholicism. Buddhism does remain a very common religion here, and the Buddha’s Birthday is the most important Buddhist holiday.

The Korean Buddha’s Birthday holiday is celebrated in honor of the day when Sakyamuni, or Buddha, came to this world. The beginning of Buddhism, or 불교 (bulgyo), can be traced back to 37 B.C., when the ancient Korean kingdom of Goguryeo made it the national religion. Buddhism was the most prominent religion in Korea up until Christianity’s more recent introduction to the country.

Did you know there’s another name for Buddha’s Birthday in Korean? It’s Seokga Tansinil. Seokga is “Buddha,” and Tansinil is Chinese for “the day of birth.” Just remember that these are the same terms.

2. When is Buddha’s Birthday?

A Buddha Statue

This holiday takes place on the eighth day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar, meaning that the date of Buddha’s Birthday celebration varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: May 7
  • 2021: May 26
  • 2022: May 15
  • 2023: June 2
  • 2024: May 22
  • 2025: May 12
  • 2026: May 31
  • 2027: May 20
  • 2028: May 9
  • 2029: May 27

3. How is Buddha’s Birthday Celebrated in Korea?

The Buddha’s Birthday celebration in South Korea consists of various events and traditions, the most common of which is the 연등행사 (yeondeung haengsa), or Lotus Lantern Festival. The “lotus” lanterns are so-called because they’re shaped like lotus flowers. During this festival, people usually write a wish or two on a piece of paper, put this paper into the lantern, and then light the lantern and hang it up inside the temple.

On Buddha’s Birthday, South Koreans enjoy visiting a Buddhist temple, or 절 (jeol), most of which are located somewhere in the mountains. In addition to the Lotus Lantern Festival, people also enjoy a delicious vegetarian meal called Sachal Bibimbap. This is similar to the normal bibimbap—made with rice, red pepper paste, veggies, and meat—except it lacks the meat. This type of bibimbap is made with fresh-grown vegetables. Abstaining from meat on Buddha’s Birthday represents the clearing of one’s mind.

4. Back to the River

On the Buddha’s Birthday, Koreans often bring turtles or fish to the river. Do you know why this is?

This tradition is called 방생 (bangsaeng), meaning “release of captive animals.” This usually refers to the act of releasing pet fish or turtles back into nature, and two of the most popular places to do this are the Han River and Cheonggyecheon Stream.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Buddha’s Birthday

Lotus Lantern Festival

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Buddha’s Birthday!

  • 불교 (bulgyo) — “Buddhism”
  • 인도 (indo) — “India”
  • 태어나다 (taeeonada) — “be born”
  • 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim oshin nal) — “Buddha’s Birthday”
  • 석가모니 (seokgamoni) — “Buddha”
  • 불상 (bulsang) — “statue of the Buddha”
  • 방생 (bangsaeng) — “release of captive animals”
  • 연등행사 (yeondeung haengsa) — “Lotus Lantern Festival”
  • 해인사 (haeinsa) — “Haeinsa temple”
  • 절 (jeol) — “Buddhist temple”
  • 스님 (seunim) — “Buddhist Priest”

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Korean Buddha’s Birthday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Buddha’s Birthday with us, and that you learned something new about Korean culture and society.

Do you celebrate Buddha’s Birthday in your country? If so, how do your traditions differ from those in Korea? We look forward to hearing from you.

To continue delving into Korean culture and the language, has more articles you may enjoy:

That should be enough to keep you busy for a while, but if you want even more great content on all things Korean, create your free lifetime account today. With tons of fun and effective lessons for learners at every level, there’s something for everyone!

Happy learning. 🙂

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삼일절: Korea’s Independence Movement Day

On Independence Movement Day, Koreans commemorate those who sacrificed themselves for Korea’s freedom from Japan. They also celebrate that freedom and independence through a range of patriotic traditions.

In this article, you’ll learn about the March 1 Movement, Korean celebrations for it today, and one of the most notable figures associated with Korea’s Independence Movement Day.

Are you ready? Let’s get started.

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1. What is Independence Movement Day in South Korea?

If you grew up in the United States, you probably remember hearing about the Battle of Alamo in school. Well, did you know that in South Korea, Independence Movement Day commemorates a similar episode in Korean history?

On March 1, 1919, underground fighters in Korea claimed independence from the Japanese, who, at the time, had Korea under its colonial rule. In opposition to this claim, Japanese police and military forces killed about 7,000 protestors who were unarmed. Following this event, the Japanese would continue its rule over Korea for another twenty-six years (1910-1945).

After 민족 대표 33인 (minjeok daepyo samsipsamin), or “the 33 nationalists,” were arrested, ordinary civilians from around Korea became inspired to support the cause. A month following the initial protest, Shanghai set up a provincial government that would serve as a way for Koreans to have their wishes and desires carried out, and ultimately to aid in the fight for freedom.

삼일절 (Samiljjeol), or Independence Movement Day, is a special holiday in Korea to commemorate this event. Further, Koreans celebrate the spirit of 독립 (dongnip), or “independence,” and courage that the protesters exhibited and infused their fellow citizens with. It was this inspiration that allowed the Japanese colonial rule to come to an end in 1945.

Did you know the formal name of Korea is Daehanminguk in Korean? This phrase means that the independence of the country of Daehanminguk will last forever. Only after gaining independence in 1945 were Koreans finally able to shout their country’s name for what it really means.

2. When is Independence Movement Day?

Independence Movement Day is on March 1

As you probably guessed, on March 1, Koreans celebrate Independence Movement Day.

3. Independence Movement Day – South Korean Celebrations

It’s evident that March 1 is still a very important day for Koreans, one on which we can think deeply about the painful history of the country. For Independence Movement Day in South Korea, celebrations are very patriotic and probably similar to your country’s Independence Day or national day.

If you’re in Korea on March 1, not only will you see the 태극기 (taegukgi), or “Flag of South Korea,” flying outside the prison, but a lot of houses will also raise the flag. There are even people who put the flag up on their cars or wear clothes with the flag.

At ten o’clock in the morning on March 1, you’ll hear sirens go off at many places. People stop whatever they’re doing, and pay silent tribute to the nationalists who lost their lives for Korea’s independence.

4. Seodaemun Prison

Many people went to jail for their support of the Independence Movement. One of the biggest jails was the Seodaemun Prison, which was established during Japanese rule. A part of this prison is still preserved today, and Koreans come here to honor those who lost their lives while imprisoned.

Perhaps the most famous of these people was a woman named Yu Gwan-sun, or 유관순 (yu gwansoon) in Korean. She was jailed at seventeen years old for her involvement in the Independence Movement, and today, her cell is called Ryu-Gwan-Sun Cave.

This is a popular Korea Independence Movement Day location for people to visit.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Independence Movement Day

Flag of South Korea

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Independence Movement Day!

  • 삼일절 (Samiljjeol) — “Independence Movement Day”
  • 민족 자결주의 (minjeok jagyeoljuui) — “self-determination”
  • 국가 (gukga) — “nation”
  • 독립 기념관 (dongnip ginyeomgwan) — “Independence Hall of Korea”
  • 독립 (dongnip) — “independence”
  • 정부 (jeongbu) — “government”
  • 태극기 (taegukgi) — “Flag of South Korea”
  • 식민지 (singminji) — “colony”
  • 1919년 3월 1일 (cheongubaeksipgunyeon samwol iril) — “March 1, 1919”
  • 민족 대표 33인 (minjeok daepyo samsipsamin) — “the 33 nationalists”
  • 기미 독립 선언서 (gimi dongnip seoneonseo) — “the Declaration of Independence written in 1919”
  • 유관순 (yu gwansoon) — “Yu, Gwan-sun”

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Korean Independence Movement Day vocabulary list.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, in Korea, March 1 is a major holiday and a very patriotic, melancholy time for the Korean people.

How do you celebrate Independence Day in your country? Who are some of the most notable figures? We look forward to hearing from you!

If you’re interested in learning more about Korean culture and holidays, please visit the KoreanClass101 pages below:

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Hangul Proclamation Day: Writing Korean Made Easy

The creation of the Hangul language in 1446 may be one of the most important and influential events in Korea’s history. This new way of writing down the Korean language greatly improved Koreans’ access to writing, as it was made to be much simpler and easier to learn.

In this article, you’ll learn all about Korean Hangul Proclamation Day (sometimes spelled Hangeul Proclamation Day), including traditions and what exactly makes the Hangul language so easy. This South Korean holiday is a clear reflection of language progress, and learning about it will give a deeper look into South Korea’s history and current culture.

Let’s get started and cover the basics of Hangeul Proclamation Day in South Korea.

At, we hope to make every aspect of your learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Hangul Proclamation Day?

Hangul are the Korean characters created and spread in 1446 by King Sejong of the Joseon dynasty. Even back then, Korean was spoken in Korea like it is today, but since Korean had no characters of its own, they wrote with Chinese characters.

However, there was a problem with this. Chinese characters took a long time to learn, meaning that farmers and people who had to work had trouble learning them. So King Sejong, in order to create a writing system that anyone could learn, founded a place called Jiphyeonjeon where Hangul was created in 1446.

Hangul Proclamation Day has been celebrated since 1926, but was called Gagya Day. Korean Hangul’s alphabet starts with the characters with Giyeok such as Ga, Gya, G
eo, Gyeo, Go, Gyo, Geu
and Gi. That was how it first got its name of Ga-gya Day, and perhaps why it’s sometimes still referred to as Korean Alphabet Day.

2. When is Hangul Proclamation Day?

Hangul Proclamation Day

Each year, Hangul Proclamation Day is celebrated on October 9.

3. Celebrations for the Hangul Language

To celebrate how great Hangul is, various events take place all over Korea on Hangul Proclamation Day. There are fashion shows with clothes designed and inspired by Hangul, and various pieces of art that use Hangul are also shown.

Also on Hangeul Day, many websites change their logo from English to Korean characters. Even the search site Google changes its logo to Hangul on Hangul Proclamation Day.

4. Why is Hangul so Easy?

Man Relaxing on Sofa

Why do you think Hangul is easy to learn? It’s because Hangul is a combination of consonant and vowel sounds, and its special characteristic is that almost every sound can be written, and the number of characters you need to memorize is low.

Also, many Hangul letters were made similar to the shape of your mouth or tongue when you pronounce the letter. If the pronunciation is similar, then the character shapes are most likely similar too, so anyone can easily memorize and learn it.

5. Essential Vocabulary for Hangul Proclamation Day

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Here’s the essential vocabulary you need to know for Hangul Proclamation Day in South Korea!

  • 언어 (eoneo) — “language”
  • 쓰다 (sseuda) — “write”
  • 읽다 (iktta) — “read”
  • 한글날 (Hangeullal) — “Hangul Proclamation Day”
  • 소리 (sori) — “sound”
  • 훈민정음 (hunminjeongeum) — “Hunminjeongeum
  • 주시경 (ju sigyeong) — “Ju Si-gyeong
  • 세종대왕 (sejong daewang) — “the Great Sejong”
  • 모음 (moeum) — “vowel”
  • 우수성 (ususeong) — “superiority”
  • 조선 시대 (joseon sidae) — “Joseon Dynasty
  • 창제 (changje) — “invention”
  • 한글 (hangeul) — “Hangul”
  • 반포 (banpo) — “distribution”
  • 자음 (jaeum) — “consonant”
  • 태극기 (taegukgi) — “Flag of South Korea”
  • 문자 (munja) — “letter”
  • 공휴일 (gonghyuil) — “legal holiday”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, alongside relevant images, check out our Hangul Proclamation Day vocabulary list!

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