Valentine’s Day + A Few Strange Romantic Holidays in South Korea

by Audrey on February 11, 2014 · 50 comments

I’m going to make a bold statement here and say that South Korea is the most romantic country in the world!

Yes, more romantic than the sparkling Eiffel Tower at nightfall, more romantic than a gondola ride down the canals in Venice, and more romantic than dancing tango in the streets of Buenos Aires. (Okay, so maybe tango in Argentina is at a tie with South Korea…)

I know, you’re probably thinking, “Umm, what exactly does Korea have going on in the romance department?”

Well, thirteen romance filled holidays, to be precise.

Leaving love locks at Namsan in Seoul, South Korea.

Diary Day – January 14

The first month of romance kicks off with ‘Diary Day’. As the name suggests, this is a holiday where couples buy each other cute daily planners for the year – an especially useful gift for the forgetful ones in the relationship, though it shouldn’t be that difficult to keep track of these romantic holidays since they all fall on the 14th of every month!

Valentine’s Day – February 14

In any other country in the world, Valentine’s Day is a time when couples celebrate their love for each other, but in Korea things are done differently. Here, Valentine’s Day is all about the men. Yes, you heard that right ladies, this is when you make your move! If there’s a certain man you’ve been batting your lashes at, it’s time to buy him a box of chocolates and finally confess your love. And if you’re already in a relationship, this is the day to shower that special someone with sweet notes, kisses, and lots of chocolates!

White Day – March 14

Of course, after all the work the ladies put into planning the perfect Valentine’s Day, a whole month later it’s time for the men to finally return the favour. “White Day” is when the boys lavish the girls with flowers, jewelry, candy and other sweet gifts. If you want to take it a step further, you can even plan a romantic date and take your girlfriend out for a special dinner. Or better yet, hike up Namsan (남산) to leave love locks, and then go up N Seoul Tower for a dazzling view of the city below.

Black Day – April 14

For those who are still unlucky in love even after 3 months of romance filled holidays, there is Black Day. With dark clouds brooding over their heads, this is the day when single friends get together, trash talk exes, say yes to the single life, and then share a bowl of black noodles known as jjajangmyeon (짜장면). Sounds so uplifting, right?

Rose Day / Yellow Day – May 14

Rose Day is when couples wear yellow and exchange roses to remind each other of their love (because clearly the previous months haven’t made it clear enough). While the couples are being all lovey-dovey, this month the singletons get together to eat yellow curry - yum!

Kiss Day – June 14

The perfect excuse to make out all day long. Need I say more?

Silver Day – July 14

If things are starting to get serious in the relationship, this is when that special someone finally gets introduced to the parents. This is also a day when couples exchange silver rings which act as promise rings. I hear wedding bells!

Green Day – August 14

This holiday is the perfect excuse to get out of the city and go for a long romantic walk in a scenic setting.

A few ideas of romantic destinations in Korea include the Damyang Bamboo Forest (담양 죽녹원) which is lush and green in the summertime – many couples choose to carve their names into the bamboo as a way of professing their everlasting love for each other. You can also consider visiting the Boseong Tea Fields (보성녹차밭) where you can enjoy a hike, take cute photos amidst the rows of tea leaf bushes, and then share a cone of green tea flavoured ice cream. Another idea is to travel out to Nami Island (남이섬), a place made popular by the Korean drama “Winter Sonata” (겨울연가) – very romantic.

And again for those who are still single by August (unbelievable!), it’s time to get drunk. The green bottles of soju (소주) really tie in well with this whole theme.

Photo Day / Music Day – September 14

Photo day is the time to pull out your phone and take lots of cute selfies with your boo (doesn’t that happen every single day of the week anyway?). And after a day of photo snapping, you get to meet up with friends for a soju-fuelled evening of noraebang (노래방), where you sing off-key to your favourite songs until the wee hours of the morning, upon which you stumble home drunk.

Wine Day – October 14

By October it’s time to start getting creative with the holidays and throwing some more alcohol into it (though clearly that’s been happening all year long). While beer, soju and makkoli are the most common beverages of choice in Korea, October 14 affords people the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and share a bottle of Merlot or Sauvignon with that special someone.

Movie Day – November 14

You have two options on Movie Day: you can either go to the movie theatre to catch the latest flick (you’ll want to book in advance because this is a day when theatres are packed!), or you could go to a DVD-bang (DVD room) with a small group of friends and spend the afternoon watching a few of your favourite films.

Pepero Day – November 11

This is the odd one out since it’s the only romantic holiday that doesn’t fall on the 14th – I guess all the months were taken! Pepero Day is a fairly new holiday that apparently originated when two friends swapped Pepero (빼빼로) sticks (long pretzel sticks covered in chocolate) with the hopes of becoming tall and thin…since the date 11/11 resembles the shape of the sticks, the holiday took off and became a hit.

Oh, and if you want to test this out for yourself, the magic happens when you eat the Pepero sticks on 11/11 when the clock strikes 11:11. Let me know how that goes for you!

Hug Day – December 14

And the last holiday of the year is a chance to embrace your loved one in a great big bear hug! Not a bad way to stay warm and toasty when the temperatures are beginning to drop.

And that concludes the love fest of romantic Korean holidays.

Now what do you think about South Korea being the most romantic country in the world?

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 11, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Wow! What a great post! Had no idea they had so many nice romantic traditions in South Korea – I love the idea of “Hug Day” :)
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 3:58 am

Thanks Shikha! I had no idea about these holidays either until I moved to Korea for a year.

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Cheryl Howard February 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Wow! I had no idea that Korea has these traditions. Amazing! Definitely a romantic people. :)
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 3:59 am

Oh yes, they sure love their romantic holidays in Korea. ;)

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LSmith (swedenroadtrip) February 11, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Very interesting read! I really like the idea of a green day, think every country should have one.
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:00 am

Haha, I feel like every weekend was green day in Korea… ;)

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Lauren Meshkin February 12, 2014 at 12:12 am

Hahahahahah this is so interesting. They sure know how to make the most out of life! Love it.

Happy travels :)
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:02 am

Yup, the sure found a lot of reasons to celebrate love every month of the year! ;)

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Vanessa February 12, 2014 at 2:41 am

Love that post!! Did the Namsam Tower Lock Date as well ^___^
I can only guarantee, Korea really is a romantic spot <3
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:03 am

Awesome! The love locks are one of those things you just have to do while in Korea. :D

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Alison Pirtle February 12, 2014 at 2:42 am

Yes, finally a guide to these crazy/hilarious holidays! My life is South Korea is more complete now.
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:04 am

Haha, I hope you’re enjoying all the celebrations over there, Alison!

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chelsea February 12, 2014 at 4:19 am

and i must say, as a teacher, pepero day was always my favorite because i walked out of school with heaps of boxes of the stuff : )

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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:05 am

Yes! I really enjoyed Pepero Day too because all my young students would come with boxes full of chocolate covered pretzels to share in class. The perks of being a teacher. ;)

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Taylor February 12, 2014 at 4:42 am

Hahaa Koreans are hilarious. I’m pretty sure paepaero day was made up by the company that makes all the paepaero. But they’re delicious so I’m ok with it. Looks like I have some work to do before the 14th of almost every month.
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:07 am

Haha, yup, probably. Not a bad marketing tactic on their part. ;)

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CurlyTraveller February 12, 2014 at 11:54 am

Hahaha…what a great post about all these ‘love’-celebrations! Was not aware of most of them, but it does fit into my feeling about Seoul. I just returned from a week there and although bitterly cold I fell completely in love with that city. Very vibrant, young and artistic.
Being a tangodancer I sure love Buenos Aires too. Tango music is very romantic and still moves me to tears. When a dance ‘works’ it is magical. But in general the romance factor of tango unfortunately is highly overrated. Bs As though is a very charming city and the male citizens tend to bombard you with piropos (poetic flattery) that sweep you of your feet.
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:09 am

I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your visit to Seoul! Winter is a difficult time to visit (when I lived there I used to just hibernate indoors!), but I’m glad the city was still able to ooze that magic despite the freezing temperatures. :)

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Lily La February 12, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Haha I never had a clue about any of these holidays, until I walk into work and see cute hearts everywhere, or chocolates/ candy on my desk. Gotta love SK at times!
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:12 am

Haha, yup, that’s pretty much how I would find out about most holidays in Korea. My students would walk into class with boxes of cookies, donuts, or pepero sticks, and I was always the one wondering, “What are we celebrating today?”

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Charlie February 12, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Some super cute holidays there! What goes into a bowl of black noodles? Sounds pretty exciting..
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:14 am

It’s basically a bowl of plain noodles topped with a salty soybean paste sauce. It’s a lot tastier than it sounds, and it’s really popular in Chinese restaurants if you’re keen to try it. :)

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Kerry - The Flying Kiwi February 12, 2014 at 5:18 pm

I could not keep up with all this stuff! You’d spend your entire year planning what to do on the next celebration, PLUS birthdays and other holidays too. In saying that, I might adopt Wine Day and Movie Day – they both sound excellent!
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:16 am

Yup, I guess it’s a good thing they put Diary Day at the start of the year – gotta pencil in those holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries!!! ;)

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Renuka February 12, 2014 at 9:15 pm

It’s interesting! I like the white day when a guy has to shower gifts upon the girl. :) That’s sweet.
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Audrey February 13, 2014 at 4:18 am

I liked White Day too. I kind of thought that one should come before Valentine’s Day so that the boys had to make the first move. ;)

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ablondearoundtheworld February 12, 2014 at 10:33 pm

I didn’t know that! So cute!!!
Better go get a southkorean boyfriend!!! :D
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Audrey February 23, 2014 at 3:03 am

Haha, exactly! ;)

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Arianwen February 13, 2014 at 1:46 pm

This is so brilliant! Who knew?! I think we should make a stand for introducing all of these world wide! Ok, so I do wine day every other day already, but I could certainly make room for a few more hugs, selfies, movie nights and general pampering. Awesome read!
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Audrey February 23, 2014 at 3:05 am

Yup, a lot of these holidays are casual enough that they’d be easy to adopt. Movie Day, Music Day, and Soju Day sound like a regular weekend in Korea to me. :)

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Casey @ A Cruising Couple February 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Love this! We actually just wrote a post about 14 Way to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Around the World and we included South Korea on there with a note that you can celebrate the 14th day all year round. So funny to me! But I also love to celebrate for any occassion, so I suppose I wouldn’t have trouble with these :)
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Audrey February 23, 2014 at 3:07 am

That’s pretty cool! I checked out your post and was surprised to learn that Japan has a similar tradition with Valentine’s Day & White Day. I wonder if they’ll end up adopting a few of the other lovey-dovey Korean holidays that take place the rest of the year… ;)

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Stephen February 14, 2014 at 5:31 am

Haha amazing! Who knew that South Korea of all places had so many romantic holidays. Great post Audrey!
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Audrey February 23, 2014 at 3:09 am

Thanks Stephen! I had no clue about these holidays before I moved there.

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Ivana February 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm

:) lovely Love Days, indeed! Any idea why all of them are on the 14th of the month?
Anyway, am happy of the Kiss Day, so I have one more reason to kiss Gianni on his birthday :D
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Audrey February 23, 2014 at 3:10 am

Aww, that’s cute that Kiss Day falls on his birthday! Double the celebrations!! I have no idea why all of these fall on the 14th…maybe they just thought it would be really easy to keep track of them this way?

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Kate February 17, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Now I am just even more excited to move to South Korea later in the year. Especially as one of these falls on my birthday – May 14th :)
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Audrey February 23, 2014 at 3:14 am

Yaaay! Congratulations on the upcoming move, Kate! I hope you have an adventure filled year in South Korea! :D

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rebecca February 17, 2014 at 10:51 pm

great article! would never of imagined Korea out of all to be the country with all these romantic holidays.
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Audrey February 23, 2014 at 3:16 am

Yup, it’s quite the romantic little spot. ;)

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Adam @ Round the World we go February 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Never knew there were so many different holidays in South Korea! There’s certainly a lot of love! Although if you were single, I think you may just hate those days even more especially having so many!

Great post! :)
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Audrey February 23, 2014 at 3:20 am

Haha, yeah, I think that’s why they have a few drinking / eating holidays dedicated just for the singles… ;)

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Sherry February 19, 2014 at 10:41 pm

I don’t know. Even with black day, I think it would be hard to be single in Korea. Especially when you are always reminded of it, month after month.

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Audrey February 23, 2014 at 3:26 am

They are very fun and light-hearted holidays, so I thought it was more amusing than anything. I found that my students got a good kick out of celebrating these, but most older couples I knew didn’t celebrate all 13 – that would be a lot of holidays!

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Jackie D February 20, 2014 at 11:46 pm

South Korea giving single people the option to drink on so many of these holidays = South Korea gets me.
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Audrey February 23, 2014 at 3:29 am

Yup, plus they also have a thing called ‘Burning Fridays’, which is basically an excuse to get wasted after a crazy work week. FYI – every Friday is ‘Burning Friday’.

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Vanessa February 26, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Love these! Despite not being single, I think my favorite is Black Day… seriously, who thinks of a “Forever Alone” day? So creative! lol. I’d add to this list: Christmas. Despite not being exclusive to Korea, it’s definitely a couple’s day. In fact, my coworker said that if you’re not a couple on Christmas, you say, “I’m going to spend time with Kevin today.” As in, Kevin the character from Home Alone! Hahahaha!
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Audrey February 28, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Hahaha, yes! I remember hearing the same thing around the Christmas holidays when I lived in Korea. A few of my coworkers were also joking about spending their evening with Kevin from “Home Alone”. I miss Korea’s quirky sense of humour! :D

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Natalie Tamara March 14, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Gosh – I lived there for three years and didn’t even hear of a couple of these. Koreans sure do love being part of a couple though. It never failed to make me chuckle seeing all of the three-piece underwear sets!

Have to say, I do miss pepero day ;)
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