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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: Holidays in South Korea Series on KoreanClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Korean holidays and observances. I’m Brandon, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 6: Korean Memorial Day, 현충일 (hyeon-chung-il).
Have you ever heard of the United States holiday, Memorial Day? It's the day to remember those in the military who sacrificed their lives for the country. Korea has a holiday similar to this called the Korean Memorial Day, or 현충일 (hyeon-chung-il), and it’s held on June 6th.
In this lesson, we’ll learn more about Korean Memorial Day, which honors those who sacrificed their lives to defend their country, the Republic of Korea, 대한민국 (daehanmin-guk.)
Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: do you know why Korean Memorial Day is on June 6th?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
In Korea since 1954, the month of June has been designated the Month of the Defense of Korea and Patriots &Veterans, or 국가보훈의 달 (gukka bohunui dal), in order to honor those who lost their lives for the country.
June 6th is the most important day of the month of June. On that day, a lot of people visit the Seoul National Memorial Cemetery, 서울 국립 현충원 (seoul gunrip hyeon-chungwon) in Seoul. Seoul National Cemetery is a burial site for veterans and those who died in conflict, and on June 6th, a ceremony honoring those veterans is held with the families of the deceased and the contributors to independence, the President, and key national officials.
In particular, in the middle of the ceremony, there is a moment of silence to honor the Patriotic Martyr or 순국선열 (sungukseonnyeol). Before the moment of silence, a siren sounds across the country as well as in the cemetery, and everyone in the country stops for one minute of silence to pray for the repose of the deceased. Also, all vehicles on the main roads of the country stop for one minute for a moment of silence.
Prior to Memorial Day, elementary and junior high schools hold a variety of events associated with the holiday. These include creative writing and poster drawing contests about Korean Memorial Day. Students who participate in these events draw the soldiers who fought for the country during the Korean War 한국전쟁 (hanguk jeonjaeng), or write to the soldiers who still defend the country near the DMZ, or 비무장지대 (bimujang-jidae) to express gratitude for their actions.
Here's our fact for the day! Did you know that, even though an armistice was signed in 1953, the war has not yet been resolved on the Korean peninsula. As a result, battles, both large and small, occasionally break out along the DMZ, even though the country is under a flag of truce. And, until recently, a considerable number of soldiers would lose their lives fighting for the country. Korean people call those who had lost their lives or were injured in such combat "men of national merit,” or 국립유공자 (gungrip yugongja.)
Now it’s time to answer our quiz question: why is Memorial Day on June 6th? Well, in Korea, a year is divided into twenty-four periods, and June 6th is the first day of the 9th period. On this day, Koreans have traditionally offered various sacrifices. That is why in 1954, the South Korean government chose June 6th as Korean Memorial Day.
Well listeners, How was it? Did you learn something new today?
Do you have a day in your country to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for the country?
Please leave your comments in the comments section at KoreanClass101.com. and We’ll see you next time!