Public holidays in South Korea

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Public holidays in South Korea each belong to one or more of three categories:

  • National Celebration Day (Hangul: 국경일, Hanja: 國慶日)
  • National Flag Raising Day (Hangul: 국기게양일, Hanja: 國旗揭揚日)
  • Public Day Off (Hangul: 공휴일, Hanja: 公休日)

Each category has a different legal basis. All National Celebration Days are also Flag Raising Days.

List of Public holidays in South Korea[edit]

Name Date Remarks National Celebration Day Flag Raising Day Off
New Year's Day

신정(新正)1
(Sinjeong)

January 1 The day celebrates new year. No No Yes
Korean New Year's Day

설날
(Seollal)

1st day of 1st lunar month Also called "Seol(설)" or "Gujeong(구정, 舊正)". The first day of the Korean lunar calendar. It is one of the most important of the traditional Korean holidays, and is considered a more important holiday than the solar New Year's Day. No No Yes
(3days)
Independence (Declaration) Day

3·1절(三一節)
(Samiljeol)

March 1 This day commemorates the March 1st Movement in 1919. On March 1 of this year, 33 Korean nationalists and students declared their nation's independence in Seoul. It started a nation-wide civil protest and was a catalyst for the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea (April 13, 1919). Yes South Korea Yes
Children's Day

어린이날
(Eorininal)

May 5 The day on which to esteem the personalities of children and plan for their happiness. In Korea, Children's Day started on May 1, 1922, when 8 persons including Bang Jeong-Hwan (in Korean 방정환) declared the Day and held an anniversary. In 1946, the Day changed to May 5, and became a public holiday in 1975. No No Yes
Buddha's Birthday

석가탄신일(釋迦誕辰日)
(Seokgatansinil)

8th day of 4th lunar month Also called "Bucheonnim Osinnal (부처님 오신 날)" or "Sawol Chopail (사월 초파일,四月初八日). The birthday of the Gautama Buddha. In South Korea, Buddhism is the one of two major religions, along with Christianity. No No Yes
Memorial Day

현충일(顯忠日)
(Hyeonchung-il)

June 6 The day commemorates the men and women who died while in military service or in the independence movement. On this day, a national commemoration ceremony is held in Seoul National Cemetery. No South Korea
(half mast)
Yes
Constitution Day

제헌절(制憲節)
(Jeheonjeol)

July 17 The day celebrates the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea in 1948. Yes South Korea No
Liberation Day

광복절(光復節)
(Gwangbokjeol)

August 15 The day celebrates the national liberation from Imperial Japan in 1945. On the same day in 1948, the government of the Republic of Korea was established. The word "Gwangbok" means "restoration of light". Yes South Korea Yes
Midautumn Festival

추석(秋夕)
(Chuseok)

15th day of 8th lunar month Also called "Han-gawi (한가위)". Korean traditional Harvest Festival. With Seollal, it is one of the most important Korean traditional holidays. As a celebration of the good harvest, Koreans visit their ancestral hometowns and share a feast of Korean traditional food. No No Yes
(3days)
Armed Forces Day

국군(國軍)의 날
(Gukgunuinal)

October 1 The day recognizes, venerates, and honors the military forces of the Republic of Korea. In 1950, during the Korean War, South Korean Forces broke through the 38th parallel on October 1. No South Korea No
National Foundation Day

개천절(開天節)
(Gaecheonjeol)

October 3 The day celebrates the foundation of Gojoseon, the first state of the Korean nation. According to the Samguk Yusa, Dangun founded Gojoseon on the 3rd day of 10th lunar month, 2333 BCE. Today, South Koreans celebrate their national foundation on October 3 according to the solar calendar, for convenience sake. "Gaecheonjeol" means "Heaven-opened Day". Yes South Korea Yes
Hangul Day

한글날
(Hangeullal)

October 9 The day commemorates the invention(1443) and the proclamation(1446) of hangul, the native alphabet of the Korean language. King Sejong the Great, inventor of hangul, is one of the most honored rulers in Korean history. Yes South Korea Yes
Christmas Day

기독탄신일(基督誕辰日)
(Gidoktansinil)

December 25 Christmas is commonly called "Seongtanjeol (성탄절,聖誕節)" in Korean(especially among Korean Catholics), but the official Korean name fixed by law is "Gidoktansinil"2. In South Korea, Christianity is the one of two major religions, along with Buddhism. No No Yes
Footnotes:

1 This is not a legal name. The legal name is simply "January 1"
2 The Korean word jeol (절,節) means 'holiday' or 'festival', and is only used for National Celebration Days in South Korean law. The words il (일,日) and nal (날) mean 'day' and are used for the names of general commemoration days.

National Celebration Days[edit]

These days celebrate events considered joyous to Korea. In the beginning, Independence Declaration Day (March 1) was first stipulated in 1946.[1] After the establishment of the Government of the Republic of Korea in 1948, four major National Celebration Days (Independence Declaration Day, Constitution Day, Liberation Day, National Foundation Day) were provided by "The Law Concerning the National Celebration Days" (국경일에관한법률)[2] in 1949. In 2005, Hangul Day became the 5th National Celebration day.

National Flag Raising Days[edit]

All the National Celebration Days, Memorial Day (half staff), Armed Forces Day are provided by Article 8 of the "National Flag Law" (대한민국국기법 제8조).[3] On these days, the raising of the taegukgi at every house and along every roadside is promoted.

Public Days Off[edit]

They are provided by the "Ordinance Concerning the Holidays of Government and Public Offices" (관공서의 공휴일에 관한 규정).[4] This ordinance originally applied only to government and public offices, but most individual business offices also follow it.

Dates in Solar Calendar of Korean New Year's Day, Buddha's Birthday, and Midautumn Festival[edit]

Year 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Korean New Year's Day January 31 February 19 February 8 January 28 February 16
Buddha's Birthday May 6 May 25 May 14 May 3 May 22
Midautumn Festival September 8 September 27 September 15 October 4 September 24

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]