Jul 28, 2014

October Korean Holidays Mark War, History and the Alphabet

October is another month with several Korean holidays.

October Korean Holidays Mark War, History and the Alphabet

I have previously written about . October is another special month in Korea because of several important holidays.

These national holidays include the Korean Armed Forces Day on Oct. 1, Gaecheonjeol (National Foundation Day) on Oct. 3, and Hangul Day on Oct. 9.

Korean Armed Forces Day

Oct. 1 is observed as Korean Armed Forces Day because this was the day during the Korean War that the Korean Armed Forces, along with the soldiers from the United States and other United Nation countries counterattacked the North Korean Army by passing the 38th parallel towards the northern Korean Peninsula. Just more than 10 years ago, Korean Armed Forces Day used to be a big national holiday with many events celebrated nationwide. This has recently changed. The public no longer has the day off, but it remains an important holiday. The armed forces were very limited before the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.  Today, however, the Republic of Korea Armed Forces is one of the larger armed forces in the world with more than 500,000 active members.  They not only defend the country, but also engage in disaster relief and humanitarian efforts.


Oct. 3 is celebrated as Gaecheonjeol in Korea.  Koreans commemorate the founding of their nation with a national holiday and the raising of the national flag. There is an interesting myth of the birth of Korea. 

Once upon a time, Hwanung, the son of the heavens, lived around the Taebak Mountain area. One day, a tiger and a bear who wanted to become human visited Hwanung. They pleaded and prayed to Hwanung to grant their wish.

He heard their earnest pleas and prayers. He gave them garlic and a bunch of mugwort herb and told them that if they could stay out of the sun for 100 days in the cave and eat just the garlic and mugwort, they would become human. The tiger gave up and left the cave after a few days. However, the bear persisted and eventually became a beautiful woman, called Woongnyu.  After some time, Hwanung took her as his wife.  She prayed for a baby and later gave birth to a son. He was named Dangun and he established Gochosun (Ancient Chosun) in 2,333 B.C. This is the birth myth of Korea.

Hangul Day

Oct. 9 is Hangul Day. Hangul Day is a Korean national holiday to celebrate . For more details, please visit the link provided above.

Observing these holidays brings a deeper appreciation and understanding of Korea’s rich history to those who live in Korea and abroad.

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