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liberation day

South Korea Declares Aug. 14 as Temporary Holiday for Independence Day Festivities

by ALEX HYUN| @ahyundarkb4dawn

This year, the South Korean government has temporarily labeled Aug. 14 as an extra public holiday in conjunction with the country’s 70th Liberation Day holiday held on Aug. 15.

National Liberation Day, also known as Gwangbokjeol, commemorates Korea’s independence from Japanese 1910-1945 colonial rule, which ended after Japan surrendered to the Allies in WWII.

South Korea’s move to designate the 14th as a holiday is a response to the loss of morale and economic profits, which was spurred by the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak.

“We should make the 70th Liberation Day a turning point to boost the public sense of pride, revive the depressed atmosphere and boost consumers’ sentiments,” President Park Geun-hye said during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, according to the Korea Herald.

Such a temporary holiday is not a new phenomenon in South Korea. In July 2002, a holiday was celebrated for Korea qualifying for the semi-finals of the World Cup. The opening day of the Seoul Olympics also saw a temporary holiday in 1988.

According to the Korea Herald, the government will exempt foreign travelers from paying motorway toll fees and will offer discounted tickets for railway travelers. Fifteen historic sites, including Gyeongbokgung Palace and Deoksugung Palace, as well as 41 recreational forests will be open for free during the Liberation Day weekend.

The government also plans to issue an order to close all public offices and agencies on the Aug. 14, a day before Liberation Day festivities begin. Private companies will be given the choice to follow this directive.

South Korea’s tourism industry has plunged in recent months due to the MERS scare, with a 41 percent decrease in incoming international visitors in June, compared to statistics from last year. However, South Korea declared an end to the outbreak on July 27, and foreign tourists have started making their way back to the country. On Tuesday, Seoul reported its 30th consecutive day without an additional MERS case.

South Korea’s Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan expects the temporary holiday to “induce about 1.3 trillion won worth of domestic consumption and create 46,000 new jobs,” according to the Korea Herald.

See Also


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Featured image via Yonhap

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5 Facts About Teachers’ Day in South Korea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Today is a special day for teachers in South Korea. On May 15, Korean teachers and students annually observe Teachers’ Day (스승의 날), a holiday that traces back all the way to the early 1960s.

For those of you unfamiliar with the holiday, prepare to be schooled! Here are five facts about Teachers’ Day in South Korea.


1. Origin story: Get well, teacher

eu35LJ24(Photo via Oh Kpop)

Teachers’ Day in South Korea is said to have originated in Seoul back in 1963 after a team of Red Cross youth members began visiting their sick ex-teachers in hospitals. These visits gradually evolved into an annual observance that was held on May 26.

2. Date change and cancellation

200605150014_00Students at the Department of Korean Classics of Kyungsung University massage their professors’ shoulders.  (Photo via Chosun Ilbo)

In 1965, the date for Teachers’ Day changed to May 15 to commemorate the birth of King Sejong the Great, the creator of the Korean alphabet. South Korea shut down national ceremonies celebrating the holiday between 1973 and 1982, but later resumed them afterward.

3. Carnations, parties and “love cards”

Teachers'_Day_Gifts_South_Korea_05_2013Korean students give handwritten letters to an English teacher. (Photo via Join Chase)

On Teachers’ Day, Korean students traditionally pay respect to their teachers by presenting carnations, the same kind children give to their parents on Parents’ Day (May 8). Students also craft handmade “love cards” containing messages of gratitude toward their teachers.

Colleges and universities with an ample budget tend to throw special parties or performances for their professors. Special dishes are prepared and awards are given to the most outstanding educators in their fields.

4. Bribery

gift-on-tableA teacher’s desk laden with gifts from students on Teachers’ Day (Photo via Teachers Page)

Many schools in South Korea either close or have a half-day on Teachers’ Day, as many parents use the holiday as an excuse to give teachers expensive gifts that are considered to be bribes. Some schools choose to organize outings for their teaching staff to prevent this problem. Current and former students often visit their teachers during the day to pay their respects.

5. World Teachers’ Day

nha-giao1Vietnamese elementary school students present flowers to their teacher. (Photo via Zing.vn)

South Korea isn’t the only country that dedicates a day to honor their educators. Mexico also celebrates Teachers’ Day, known as Día del maestro, on May 15 by holding cultural events. Vietnam, Singapore, India, Philippines, Venezuela and Poland are among several countries known to celebrate some form of teacher appreciation day by having students prepare small gifts, performances and activities for their mentors.

In the United States, the first week of May is designated as National Teacher Appreciation Week, which was established by the National PTA back in 1985. World Teachers’ Day is also annually celebrated around the globe on Oct. 5.



Happy Black Day: A Day for Singles and Noodles


In America, Valentines Day means roses and a box of chocolates for our significant other. It is arguably the most romantic national holiday for us. Nonetheless, for many Asian countries, a single day to show love isn’t enough.

For countries such as Japan, Korea and China, Valentine’s Day is celebrated quite differently. This holiday is an opportunity for women to present men with chocolate as an expression of love. Men do not give women anything in return until a month later. On March 14, otherwise known as White day, men reply to the women who gave them gifts. This gift is a good indicator of whether or not he feels the same way.

As it turns out, White Day is not the only holiday we’re missing out on. A month after White Day, on April 14, Korea celebrates yet another interesting holiday: Black Day.

As you may have guessed, Black Day is practically the opposite of the two romantic holidays. This is a day is for those who did not receive gifts on Valentine’s Day or White Day. Yup, this unofficial holiday is for single people.


To celebrate this day, people wear black and eat black-colored food. Specifically, people indulge in jajangmyeon, a noodle dish with a thick sauce made of chunjang (soybean paste), diced pork and vegetables. As sad as this holiday may seem, people have put in efforts to make this holiday fun such as jajangmyeon-eating competitions.

You can learn how to make your own jajangmyeon by watching the video below:


Originally published on Audrey Magazine


10 Reasons Why Koreans Are the Irish of Asia

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! While the holiday is not widely celebrated by South Koreans, you’ll find that there are a few common traits both Ireland and South Korea share, including their drinking habits and delicious pancakes.

Privy Magazine has compiled a list of 10 reasons why Koreans are considered the Irish of Asia. Check out their infographic below:


This graphic was created by Privy Magazine. You can read the full article on Privy.net.


Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.47.04 PM

12 K-pop Christmas Songs

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

It’s Christmas Eve! Here are some festive K-pop jingles, old and new, to help you get in the holiday spirit.

Roy Kim – “It’s Christmas Day”

Roy Kim’s silky voice is sure to melt a few hearts this Christmas Day in his latest self-composed winter carol. The lyrics capture the feeling of butterflies when one confesses love to that special someone on Christmas.

The VIBE Family – “Lonely Christmas”

If you’re planning to spend Christmas alone this year, this emotional pop ballad by VIBE Entertainment’s best vocalists will bring you comfort. Composed and written by Ryu Jaehyun, “Lonely Christmas” is dedicated to those who are unable to be with their loved ones during the holiday season. In addition, the music video uses beautiful animation and storytelling.

Mystic89 Family – “Christmas Wishes”

Mystic89 artists have some of the most unique voices in the K-pop industry, and this Christmas collaborative song blends all of their vocals perfectly. “Christmas Wishes” has a cheerful but easygoing melody that will ease away all your holiday worries.

Sweet Sorrow – “The Story of December”

Nothing screams Christmas more than sleigh bells and bright trumpets. “The Story of December” is a cheery holiday classic that highlights Sweet Sorrow’s smooth harmonies.

Ailee – “My Grown-up Christmas List”

Korean American soloist Ailee brings her signature soul in this cover of Amy Grant’s “My Grown-up Christmas List.” Recorded in both English and Korean, the song is about an adult asking Santa for a better world for humanity rather than materialistic gifts.

BTOB – “You Can Cry”

Despite its title, BTOB’s “You Can Cry” is a lighthearted, mid-tempo song that attempts to cheer up all the single people spending Christmas alone. While Christmas is considered a celebration of family and close friends in Western countries, South Korea sees the holiday as a romantic one that’s on par with Valentine’s Day. This is why BTOB reassures their lonely listeners with their smooth vocals that it’s OK to cry if they have no date for the holiday.

Crayon Pop – “Lonely Christmas”

This is probably the most hyperactive Christmas song in K-pop. Crayon Pop’s disco-pop jam will make you want to dance and is perfect for livening up holiday parties. The “jelly legs” dance works as a cool party trick as well.

TVXQ – “Magic Castle”

“Magic Castle” is one of the earliest songs the original five-member boy band TVXQ recorded. In the first minute of the music video, the group showcases their acapella skills before performing the cover of The Classic’s 1994 hit song “Magic Castle.” It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 11 years since TVXQ released this track. Fun fact: Yoona of Girls’ Generation plays the girl featured in the music video, which was her first public appearance.

IU – “Merry Christmas in Advance ft. Thunder”

IU, who was recently voted as South Korea’s favorite singer of 2014, flaunts her clear vocals in this sweet and peppy song. MBLAQ’s Thunder is also featured as a rapper in the original track.

Kim Bum-soo and Lena Park – “White Winter”

Kim Bum-soo and Lena Park, two of the most acclaimed vocalists in K-pop, brighten the holiday season with their modernized cover of “White Winter,” originally released by Mr. 2 in the ’90s.

URBAN ZAKAPA – “Snowing”

URBAN ZAKAPA, an indie-jazz trio, captures the warmth and sweetness of winter with their crooning voices.

Jellyfish Entertainment – “Because It’s Christmas”

The gentlemen of Jellyfish Entertainment delight listeners in this festive R&B song. All-star vocalists Sung Si-kyung, Park Hyoshin and Lee Seok-hun give solid performances with support from K-pop boy band VIXX.

What are some of your favorite K-pop Christmas songs? Let us know your thoughts!

KAM REDLAWSK-thisholdaysavelives_final2

Take a Bite out of Child Hunger

story and illustration by KAM REDLAWSK

Following my adoption from a South Korean orphanage, I remember my amazement at how much food was readily accessible in my new home in Michigan. Although my family’s was a typical middle-class household, the pantry always was stocked with snacks and my mother cooked full meals.

At the dinner table, my mother often would catch me gorging myself, even though my belly was full. I remember “stealing” food from the kitchen and hiding it in my bedroom. My mother would have to explain to me that the food would still be there tomorrow and that I would never go hungry. As a 4-year-old accustomed to a scarcity of food, I couldn’t quite grasp this concept.

Having spent part of my childhood in a crowded Korean orphanage, I had some experience of what it was like to live with the fear of hunger. My meals, I recall, usually consisted of a small bowl of rice, kimchi and sometimes an egg.

Yet, my brief experience in an orphanage is nothing like what many children worldwide experience on a daily basis.

There are approximately 805 million undernourished people in the world today, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Each year, 2.6 to 3 million children die from starvation; in addition, more than 100 million children under age five are undernourished, underweight or go to bed starving. Hunger and malnutrition, in fact, are a far bigger threat to child survival rates than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

Still, there are ways to help combat this humanitarian crisis.

A year ago, my friend Ryan Devlin shared the news that he and two good friends, Todd Grinnel and Ravi Patel, were establishing a company called This Bar Saves Lives to help chip away at the problem of child malnutrition.

Their concept? Selling gourmet, all-natural granola bars that give back. How? It’s simple: For every bar purchased, the company’s non-profit partner, Save the Children, donates a life-saving packet of Plumpy’Nut – a revolutionary, ready-to-use product that is a nutrient-rich paste made from peanuts, milk powder, sugar, vegetable oils and vitamins and minerals – to a child in need.

According to its latest quarterly report, This Bar Saves Lives has helped deliver more than 325,000 packets of the mix to malnourished children around the world – enough to help save the lives of more than 2,100 children, according to the company.

With the holidays upon us, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the commercialism of the occasion and to not think twice about tables heaped with enough food to feed a small village. So, when you’re considering gift ideas this holiday season, think of items to give not only to your loved ones but also on behalf of someone in need.

Here’s one suggestion: The granola bars sold by This Bar Saves Lives. They are perfect as stocking stuffers or for health-centric friends. Share these delicious bars at your holiday parties and events. Or give the bars as a gift that lasts all year long and sign up for the “Monthly Bar Club,” which works by delivering boxes of the granola bars automatically to you each month. (Disclaimer: I’ve worked with the company to create some initial branding concepts for promotional materials.)

Since I personally know THIS BAR’s founders, I know how much dedication and sleepless nights it took to start this company. It is an ambitious undertaking but the founders do it because of their passion to help children in need. It inspires me, and I hope it inspires you, not only this season but all year long.


For more information on how you can help address the issue of child hunger this holiday season, visit the company’s website at www.thisbarsaveslives.com for online ordering and retail locations. The granola bars are currently sold at Whole Foods, Sprouts and 500 other locations around the country.

Kam Redlawsk’s column runs every other month. To read more from Kam, visit her website or Facebook page

This column will appear in the upcoming December 2014/January 2015 print issue of KoreAm.


5 Fun Facts About Pepero Day


Today is Nov. 11, meaning it’s Pepero Day! For our readers who are unfamiliar with Pepero Day, it’s an unofficial holiday similar to Valentine’s Day observed in South Korea and is celebrated by exchanging boxes of the chocolate-covered cookie snack with friends, co-workers and lovers.

Here are five fun facts about the holiday:

1. Origin Story: “I want to be tall and skinny like a Pepero”

10401793_786306214737003_1605449459_aPhoto courtesy of  jixtina0108 via Instagram

While the exact origins of Pepero Day are unknown, they are usually traced back to a 1983 tale of two female middle school students sharing a box of Peperos in hopes of becoming tall and thin. The two girls reportedly claimed that eating Pepero sticks on Nov. 11 at 11:11 A.M in exactly 11 seconds would make a person tall and slender, sparking a fad among schoolgirls in the Yongnam Area and skyrocketing sales.

Many South Koreans, however, are skeptical of this story and argue that the holiday date originated due to the snack’s shape resembling 1’s. Others claim that Lotte, the manufacturer of Pepero, invented the holiday as a marketing tool, but the confectionary company has repeatedly denied this allegation.

2. Pepero’s nine flavors

pp555555(1)Photo courtesy of Lotte and The Korea Times

According to Lotte’s official website, Peperos are currently sold in nine different flavors: chocolate, strawberry, almond, peanut, white cookie chocolate, melon, nude (chocolate in the center), nude tiramisu cheese, and nude lemon cheese.

3. Premium Pepero Gift Sets

peperoday24Photo courtesy of Cute in Korea

Every year it seems like Pepero Day packages become more extravagant. While a basic box can cost as little as 800 won (about 75 cents), premium gift baskets, which sometimes include plush animals, can go up to 55,000 won ($50). Grocery and stationary stores usually deck their aisles with colorful and impressive displays on the week of Pepero Day.

pepero1Photo courtesy of littleredstreethouse

4. D.I.Y Pepero

peperoday31Photo courtesy of Cute in Korea

Since premium gift sets are expensive and often don’t taste very good, a popular trend among young students is to make homemade Peperos. South Korean department stores sell cute chocolate molds and icing supplies for low prices, making it very easy to decorate personalized Pepero sticks. Some decorators choose to go all out and make a Pepero cake.

tumblr_lvevwvWo1A1r6jmrco1_500Photo courtesy of 26.media.tumblr.com

5. Pepero Alternatives

There are two alternatives to celebrating Pepero Day for those who aren’t fond of the biscuit snack. Since Garaetteok Day, a holiday that commemorates Korean farmers, is also observed on Nov. 11, some Koreans choose to gift their loved ones garatteok, white rice cake, over a box of sweets.

Another alternative is packaging rolled up money in Pepero boxes, a trend that’s quickly becoming popular among older couples and husbands who don’t want to be seen carrying extravagant premium Pepero gift packages.

peperoday52Photo courtesy of Cute in Korea

However you decide to celebrate (or not celebrate) this yummy holiday, we wish you a Happy Pepero Day!

Featured photo courtesy of Kstargoods

Chuseok Table

Brisk Sales for Fake Casts to Evade Chuseok Chores in South Korea


Today marks the start of Chuseok, a three-day thanksgiving holiday, in which Koreans visit their ancestral hometowns and hold ceremonial feasts with family members. Reuters reports that fake casts for pretending to have an injury to evade having to help with holiday meal preparation have become brisk sellers in South Korea since the run-up to the holiday.

fake-castsA fake cast from an online shopping mall. (Photo Credit: Daily News Now)

“We have been selling this for 10 years now, but sales increased drastically starting last week,” said an anonymous sales manager at an online vendor. He added that both men and women were buying fake casts.

Chuseok is known to have a long history of gender divide, with men chatting and drinking while the women are hard at work, preparing and cooking elaborate traditional Korean dishes. As a result, many young women suffer from post-holiday fatigue that is commonly referred to as the “daughter-in-law holiday syndrome.”

According to the data from the Ministry of Gender, Equality, and Family in 2010, only 4.9 percent of the people surveyed admitted that both genders shared holiday chores, while the rest said women do most of the work.

“Although an increasing number of women are actively engaged in economic activities, a perception remains that only women are responsible for holiday preparation,” said Lee Na-Young, a sociologist at Chung-Ang University. “We need to try to understand that both men and women are equal beings in working and raising children in a family.”

It may be difficult to get away with the broken arm ruse at this year’s Chuseok since several media outlets have already reported about the popularity of the bogus cast. Who knows, maybe a new chore-evading innovation will come up in the market next year?

Photo via Wikipedia