Couple Culture Around the World: South Korea

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The UK spent a whopping £926,000,000 celebrating Valentine’s Day in 2021. If you think that’s crazy, let me tell you what South Korea do to celebrate.

Let me start by expressing how mad it is that we spend so much on a trivial holiday that encourages us to express our love through the purchase of material goods. It’s capitalist and it’s insane. Second, let me tell you how South Korea manages to take this trend even further.

The 14th of every month of the year marks a holiday dedicated to couples or the concept of romance – including Christmas!

On the 14th of January, Korean couples celebrate Diary Day where they splurge on a diary for their significant other to keep track of their life and all the romantic holidays occurring throughout the year.

On February 14th, it’s Valentine’s Day. In Korea, the tradition is for the woman to shower their significant other with a range of gifts. The men return the favour the following month as they celebrate White Day on March 14th.

Black Day on April 14th is the movement in which single people gather together and celebrate singlehood by indulging in bowls of black noodles known as jjajangmyeon.

May 14th marks Yellow Day and Rose Day in which couples gift each other roses to show their love and appreciation. This day is also dedicated to single people going out and eating yellow curry, hence the name Yellow Day. Personally, I’d take curry over roses any day!

Heading into summer, June 14th is Kiss Day, when couples are encouraged to show off their relationship status through physical affection. July 14th signifies Silver Day in which significant others meet each other’s parents and silver (or promise) rings are exchanged.

August 14th is Green Day (no, not the band). Couples are encouraged to go for a walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Damyang Bamboo Forest is a prime spot for South Korean couples in August. Many even carve their names into the bamboo trees to signify eternal love, just as many people in the West carve their names or initials into trees. For the singletons in August, they are invited to get drunk (wahey!) and the green soju bottles of course match with the theme of green day.

September 14th is Photo Day, a holiday to take a few snaps with your beloved, followed up by a boozy session at karaoke or a noraebang. Safe to say both of you will be stumbling home. October 14th marks Wine Day, a holiday to enjoy a glass with each other. My favourite.

November 14th is Movie Night where couples head to their nearest cinema or cuddle up on the couch, sharing a bowl of popcorn and watching a movie. Finally, the year is rounded off with Hug Day on December 14th, which is pretty explanatory: grab your loved one and embrace them.

It’s important to note that Christmas is also seen as a couple’s holiday. Restaurants prepare special menus and offer ‘tables for two’ during the festive period, a strange phenomenon for people in the West who use this holiday to catch up with extended family (and secretly drink all of the mulled wine whilst nobody is watching).

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m somehow feeling even more single after Valentine’s Day this year. At least National Singles’ Day is around the corner.

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