After learning about Korean official holidays in my Korean class, I decided to share this information. After all, it is convenient to set your plans according to public holidays, because it’s always an official day off. If you are a normal worker, chances are you’ll have these days off. However, if you work in the service or entertainment sectors, these may be your busiest days of the year.
Korea officially follows the Gregorian calendar. However, traditional holidays are celebrated based according to the lunar calendar. During public holidays, company offices and banks are closed, but royal palaces, museums, department stores, and entertainment venues are open to the public.
Seollal and Chuseok are considered the most important traditional holidays in Korea. So, these days lots of restaurants and stores can be closed as well.
In addition to public holidays, there are also alternative holidays. These are religious or western holidays that are nationally recognized. If they fall on a weekday, they result in a day off. However, if they are on a weekend there will be no national day off for the holiday. Instead, companies have to choose which weekend alternative holiday they wish to take off.
January Public Holidays
Gregorian New Years (January 1, 2022 & 2023)
The first day of the new year is an alternative holiday in South Korea. In both 2022 and 2023, these holidays fall on a weekend. As a result, companies will have to decide if this is the alternative holiday they wish to take time off on.
In Korea, it is a tradition to admire the beautiful sunrise on the sea coast or the top of the mountain.
Seollal (January 31 – February 2, 2022 & January 21 – 24, 2023)
The Lunar New Year (Seollal) is one of the most important traditional holidays of the year. It is even more important than Christmas. On this public holiday, most commercial establishments are closed so people can take a break for a few days.
families. People prepare special food and serve it on festive tables. Tteokguk (soup with rice cakes) and mandukuk (soup with dumplings) are the main dishes served during this holiday. In addition, these days, Koreans fly kites and play the traditional game “yut” if it’s not too cold.
March Public Holidays
Independence Movement Day (March 1, 2022 & 2023
This is the day of the Declaration of Independence proclamation. It happened on March 1, 1919, after the period of Japanese annexation of Korea. Normally, you can see lots of protests and marches on this day. And so, it might be best to avoid areas such as downtown Seoul and Yeoido.
Presidential Election (March 9, 2022)
March 9 2022 was the 20th presidential election day in South Korea. Voting ended at 18:00 (KST). The results were announced on the TV. Since this day is a temporary holiday, some tourist attractions and shops were closed.
May Public Holidays
Children’s Day (May 5, 2022 & 2023
This is a day celebrating children and families. Recreation areas, theme parks, zoos, cinemas, and other places provide entertainment for kids and their parents. As this day is an official day off, parks and open areas can be pretty busy.
Buddha’s Birthday (May 8, 2022 & May 27, 2023
The birth of Buddhism’s founder is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th month, according to the lunar calendar. Buddhist temples across the country hold a variety of festive events and hang colorful lanterns. This is another alternative holiday that falls on a weekend in both 2022 and 2023. You may or may not get time off for the holiday.
June Public Holidays
Local Election Day (June 1, 2022)
Local elections in Korea are scheduled for June 1, 2022. Heads of local governments and members of regional councils will be elected by citizens for 4-year terms. This day is declared an official day off.
Memorial Day (June 6 2022 & 2023)
Memorial Day is dedicated to military personnel and civilians who gave their lives for the good of the country. The main ceremony is held at the National Cemetery in Seoul. Memorial ceremonies are also held throughout the country. This is an alternative holiday, however, it falls on a weekday in both 2022 and 2023 so it is a day off.
Liberation Day (August 15, 2022 & 2023)
This day commemorates the liberation of Korea and the establishment of Korean independence from Japan on August 15, 1945. Also, this day celebrates the establishment of the government of the Republic of Korea on August 15, 1948.
Chuseok (September 9 – 11, 2022 & September 28 – 30, 2023)
Chuseok is one of the most important traditional holidays in Korea. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Chuseok is often referred to as Korean Thanksgiving. It is the celebration of fruits, grains, and crop harvesting. All family members gather together to perform a memorial ritual for their ancestors.
National Foundation Day (October 3, 2022 & 2023)
National foundation day celebrated the Korean origin story. The legend of Dangun celebrates a bear who turned into a woman, married a sky god, and gave birth to Korea’s first king. To read the entire story the holiday is centered around, Click Here.
Hangeul Day (October 9, 2022 & 2023)
Hangeul Day is dedicated to the invention of the Korean national script. The Korean alphabet was invented by King Sejong in 1443. This day is dedicated to the popularization of the Korean alphabet and culture around the world.
Christmas (December 25, 2022 & 2023)
This is a Christian holiday in honor of the birth of Jesus. As in other countries, in Korea, Christmas trees and colorful lights are set up to create a joyous atmosphere. However, there is not much emphasis on gift-giving and very few children get a visit from Santa Claus. Instead, it is celebrated mostly by young couples or devout Christians.
Christmas is another alternative holiday in South Korea. In 2022 it falls on a weekend. However, it is on a Monday in 2023 and will be a national holiday.