Public Holidays

Korea officially follows the Gregorian calendar, even though there are still few holidays that are based on the lunar calendar. During the official holidays, offices and banks are closed but palaces, museums, most restaurants, department stores, and amusement facilities are open. Seollal (Lunar New Year's Day) and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day) are the most important traditional holidays for Koreans, so millions of people visit their hometown to celebrate with their families.

2019 Official Korean Holidays

January 1

New Year's Day (January 1)

As in other countries, the first day of the New Year is celebrated. Many Koreans visit the coast or the mountains to watch the first sunrise of the year.

February 15-18

Seollal (February 4-6)

Lunar New Year’s Day (Seollal) is one of the most important traditional holidays of the year; the holiday is much more significant than January 1st. Most businesses are closed, and people take several days off from work to visit their hometown to be with their family. On the day of Seollal, everyone gets up early, puts on their best clothes, and bows to their elders as a reaffirmation of family ties. Feasts are held with specially prepared food such as tteokguk (rice cake soup) and mandu guk (dumpling soup). Korean families enjoy spending time together by playing traditional games such as yutnori (traditional Korean board games), flying kites, or spinning tops.

March 1

Independence Movement Day (March 1)

This day commemorates the Declaration of Independence proclaimed on March 1, 1919, while under Japanese colonization.

May 7

Children's Day (May 5, substitute holiday May 6)

This day celebrates children and their parents' hopes for them to grow healthy and become good citizens. On this day, parents take their little ones to children's parks, amusement parks, zoos, or to the cinema for a full day of fun and games.

May 22

Buddha's Birthday (May 12)

Falling on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, elaborate and solemn rituals are held at many Buddhist temples across the country and lanterns are hung along streets leading to the temples.

June 6

Memorial Day (June 6)

Memorial Day serves to honor the soldiers and civilians who have given their lives for their country. While memorial services are held nationwide, the largest ceremony takes place at the National Cemetery in Seoul.

August 15

Liberation Day (August 15)

This day commemorates Japan's acceptance of the Allies' terms of surrender in 1945 and the following liberation of Korea.

September 23-26

Chuseok (September 12-14)

Chuseok is one of the year’s most important traditional holidays. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Chuseok is often referred to as Korean Thanksgiving Day. It’s a celebration of another successful harvest year. Family members come from all over the country for memorial rituals, called charye, at the graves of their ancestors.

October 3

National Foundation Day (October 3)

This day commemorates the founding of the Korean nation by the legendary god-king Dangun. A simple ceremony is held at several regions throughout Korea, namely at Chamseongdan Altar on top of Manisan Mountain on Ganghwado Island; Dangunjeon Shrine in Gokseong, Taebaeksan Mountain, and Jeungpyeong, and at Dangunseongjeon Shrine in Seoul.

October 9

Hangeul Day (October 9)

Hangeul Day is a commemoration held to remember the creation of Hangeul, the country's native alphabet as proclaimed by the publication of Hunminjeongeum on this day in 1446.

October 25

Christmas (December 25)

Christmas is observed as a national holiday in Korea as in many other countries. To celebrate the festive season, Christmas trees and lights can be seen all over Korea.

This page was last updated on August 19, 2019, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here.