Holidays in Korea

I had to Google “holidays” before writing this article to remind myself of the true meaning of the word again.

When you work in Korea, “holidays” is what you call it when your friends in South Africa don’t have to work and you can skype them at any time of their day.

Some schools in Korea call two off days a “summer vacation”. I call it depressing.               At least that’s the exception. Most schools will give you 5 days in summer and 5 in winter.

This is not a lot. Especially not compared to the long school and university vacations I was used to in South Africa. South African school kids get one/two weeks around April, four in June/July, another one/two in September and six in December/January. Universities get even more free time. Kids in South Africa get a chance to actually just enjoy their childhood and PLAY!!! Seeing how little time Korean kids get to just be kids makes me really sad, but that’s a whole other article on it’s way.

Back to HOLIDAYS in Korea!

Many people think they can come teach in Korea as a traveling adventure. Yes, you can travel, BUT you’re going to be much more of a working teacher than a jetsetter. Most teachers plan their winter or summer vacations far in advance to make the most of every opportunity we get! The good news is that, that one week off actually is enough to go see another country or just another city in Korea. However, you have to get there so fast to make the most of your time there and then you would probably get back the day before school starts again, that you start school still as tired as before the vacation. That being said, the amazing adventures (although short) that you definitely can have during your week off makes that week or two of post-vacation fatigue TOTALLY WORTH IT!

More good news!

Although your school might only give you 20 off days in total, there are some cool official holidays in Korea to take advantage off. What’s even cooler is that the festive vibe around these holidays in Korea make the day or two before the actual holiday seem like a working holiday :D.

The two main official holidays in Korea are the LUNAR NEW YEAR (first week of February) and CHUSEOK (14, 15, 16 Sept). In preparation for these holidays, they would make different kinds of rice cakes and wear tradition Hanbok costumes. Many people will also give each other presents as part of the celebration.

Chuseok is coming up next week and I am so excited! The atmosphere surrounding these holidays in Korea is just so joyful and uplifting that you can’t help, but also twirl around in Hanbok!

Here is a list of all the official holidays in Korea in 2016:

1 Jan Fri New Year’s Day
7 Feb Sun Seollal
8 Feb Mon Seollal
9 Feb Tue Seollal
10 Feb Wed Seollal
1 Mar Tue March 1st Movement /
Independence Movement Day
5 May Thu Children’s Day
6 May Fri Special Public Holiday
14 May Sat Buddha’s Birthday
6 Jun Mon Memorial Day
15 Aug Mon Liberation Day
14 Sep Wed Chuseok / Korean Thanksgiving
15 Sep Thu Chuseok / Korean Thanksgiving
16 Sep Fri Chuseok / Korean Thanksgiving
3 Oct Mon National Foundation Day (Gaecheonjeol)
9 Oct Sun Hangeul Day
25 Dec Sun Christmas Day

I call the school vacations “flash vacations”, because just when you realize you’re on holiday, it’s over. However, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, you learn to be less focused on holidays and learn how to build more stamina to keep working and make the most of your weekends. I don’t think I would be able to live like this for the rest of my life, but I do appreciate what I’m learning in the process at the moment. I  think anyone who has worked in Korea can benefit from this developed work ethic and perseverance in their future. You can say what you want about Korean people, but “lazy” is one word you certainly can’t use in the same sentence as ‘Koreans’ and I have mad respect for that. See what I did there?

6 thoughts on “Holidays in Korea

  1. Hello! Are you working in a hagwon or a public school? I’m applying for jobs in Korea now and have been told I’ll get 6 weeks holiday… Now I’m suspicious!


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