ESL South Korea

Korean Public Holidays

New Year’s Day: January 1st
As in many other countries the 1st of January is a public holiday, but the big new year’s celebrations are reserved for Seol-nal, next on the list.

Seol-nal: 1st day on the Lunar Calendar

New Year’s day on the Korean calendar usually falls in late January or early February.  Officially three days are granted for holiday, but since people often travel far to visit family companies will sometimes extend the holiday to include an extra day.

Sam-il-jeol: March 1st

Commemorated the 1919 nationwide uprising against Japanese colonisation.

Buddha’s Birthday: April 8th (on the Lunar Calendar)

Buddhism was once Korean’s national religion and still maintains a large cultural influence on the country and its inhabitants.

Children’s Day: May 5th

Steer clear of amusement parks on this day and you’ll be safe.

Memorial Day: June 6th

Constitution Day: July 17th
Commemorates the 1948 instigation of the constitution of the Korean Republic.

Independence Day: August 15th
On August 15th, 1945, Korea was liberated from Japanese colonization and this day serves as commemoration

Chuseok: August 15th (on the Lunar Calendar)
Chuseok is the biggest holiday in Korea and can be compared to a Western Christmas in some respects, since it’s also a time of family and joyous celebration.  Chuseok exists to express gratefulness to ancestors for the year’s harvest (Chuseok is often called ‘Harvest festival’ in English).  During this three day holiday people travel to family’s and ancestral gravesites to meet their parents and honor their relatives who’s passed away.

Foundation Day: October 3rd
Commemorates the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 B.C, which was the first country in the Korean peninsula.

Christmas: December 25th
Often an anti-climax for Westerners who are used to Christmas trees, bright lights and festive moods.  Since Christmas is not a traditional holiday in Korea it is not afforded the same status as in the West, though it is held in reverence by Christians around the country.