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Gi, Heung, Jeong Culture print

One of the most beautiful aspects of Korean culture is known as heung, best described in English as an intrinsic sense of joy that keeps Koreans afloat even in the most difficult of times.




The western image of Asian society is often one of calmness and tranquility, however, because of this notion of heung, it would be hard to describe Korean people as being simply calm. One only has to witness Koreans singing and dancing at festivals, playing outrageous drinking games, or bellowing out songs at noraebang (karaoke) to see that once Koreans get into the mood, there is no hesitation to explode into jubilation and cheerfulness.

 In times of hardship, it is not unusual for Korean people to break out into song. For example, many of the most famous traditional songs were conceived by farm laborers singing while they toiled in the fields. Even traditional funeral services include song, as mourners sing requiems while they carry the coffins to the graveyard. In every aspect of life, Koreans are a people full of jubilation.



Perhaps the most memorable display of Korean heung was during the Korea-Japan 2002 World Cup, when one million people gathered at the center of Seoul wearing red shirts to show their support for their beloved team. Arriving ten hours before the match, the fans cheered through scorching sunlight and pouring monsoon rain. It was a scene that stunned reporters from all over the world and quickly became world news. And to top it off, the crowd voluntarily cleaned up after themselves, showing remarkable civic responsibility. How was this massive show of support and enthusiasm made possible? Surely it was the result of the heung running through the veins of the citizens of Korea.


When you visit Korea, you are likely to encounter scenes of jubilation every day. Whether it is the excitement in the streets of Myeongdong, or the shoulder dance of a samulnori folk music performance, the excitement and joyful moments of Korean culture are waiting for you.