All over the world, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love among couples. Valentine’s Day in Korea (14th February) is no exception. However, there are some key differences in how Koreans celebrate compared to the rest of the world.
If you’re spending Valentine’s Day in Korea for the first time, you may be in for a culture shock. Don’t fret, the basic concept is the same everywhere. Valentine’s Day is a day for couples and confessions of love.
In South Korea, there are some unique twists that have taken form that make this holiday stand apart from its international counterparts. From traditional gifts to popular customs, it’s important to know these differences so that you can have your own Korean-style Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day in Korea Is Different
Although the name and date of valentine’s Day are the same both in the west and in Korea, there are a few main differences.
In the United States, giving gifts on Valentine’s Day is customary. People can give their partners something handmade, cheap, or get extravagant if they’d like. It’s the thought that counts. Regardless of who’s giving it (male or female), there’s usually no emphasis on the monetary value of the gift.
However, in South Korea, you always have to be conscious of the monetary value of the gifts. Later, when they present you with a gift, there will be an expectation that they will gift something of an equal if not higher value.
For example, if someone gifts their partner chocolate, the partner is expected to give the person chocolate or something even better on another date.
As such, In order to avoid stressing your partner out, gifts should never be too extravagant in South Korea. Chocolate is always a good option.
Since the trademark gift of Valentine’s Day is chocolate, convenience stores see a lot of traffic during the holiday. All convenience stores will carry Valentine’s Day-themed balloons, streamers, chocolates, and snacks.
Most retailers advertise popular Valentine’s Day gifts by displaying them on lavish counters. Chocolate brands such as Ferrero Rocher, Snickers, Twix, and Chupa Chups are among the most popular.
Many convenience stores go all out with Valentine’s Day celebrations. In some stores, you can’t help but run face-first into a cute, heart-shaped balloon.
Moreover, chocolate, gift baskets, and other gift items go on sale after the holiday. Even if you’re single, later in the day on February 14th or the 15th is the best day of the year to stock up on your sweets stash.
Women Make The Move on Valentine’s Day
Thirdly, it’s essential to know that women usually make the move on Valentine’s Day.
Unlike in Western culture (where it’s customary for the man to make the first move) in South Korea, women use Valentine’s Day to give gifts and confess their love. In recent years, this social custom has become more lax. Brand advertisements have begun targeting both men and women during Valentine’s Day.
However, on the whole, women are still central to the holiday. Women and girls treat their boyfriends or crushes to meals and gifts. Men will have the opportunity to make their move a month later, on White Day.
Valentine’s , White, Black , and Pepero Day
Lastly, Valentine’s Day in Korea is also different because it’s not the only holiday of its kind. On March 14th, people celebrate White Day, which is for the boys.
April 14th, people celebrate Black Day, which is for singles. On Black Day singles will normally sit at home alone and order delivery black bean noodles.
And November 11th – Yet another pseudo Valentine’s day, Pepero Day. It is a non gender role specific Valentine’s Day centered around chocolate cookie sticks.
Overall, Valentine’s Day in Korea is pretty interesting. If you’re in South Korea and want to celebrate, you can try participating in these social customs.
Looking for some fun date ideas? Click Here to book a fun Valentine’s Day activity now!