Valentine’s Day in South Korea: The Holidays of Love

16 January 2022 by Terrell

Valentine’s Day is a long-standing holiday, and its traditions have evolved over time to the romantic holiday we know all about these days. That being said, the holiday doesn’t look the same in every country. Valentine’s Day in South Korea is a very different affair compared to places like the United States and is a multi-day event. 

Let’s take a trip to South Korea and learn all about how they celebrate the day of love.

Valentine’s Day

A woman in a kitchen, wearing an apron, spoons chocolate into a mold to create a gift for Valentine's Day in South Korea.

If you know anything about Valentine’s Day in Japan, you may not be surprised by how South Korea celebrates Valentine’s Day. But for those who might not know, Valentine’s in South Korea is a more one-sided celebration than in Western countries. 

In both Japan and South Korea, Valentine’s Day (February 14th) involves women giving men gifts, and usually gifts of chocolate. Women give gifts to their male friends, family, coworkers, and of course, that special someone or crush. And for all of these categories, there are different categories of chocolate. 

There’s ‘obligation chocolate’ for coworkers or classmates, ‘friend chocolate’ for friends, and ‘true love chocolate’ for crushes and lovers. The difference between the groups is often quality, money, or whether or not it’s homemade, with expensive or homemade chocolate being the best.

That being said, some couples opt out of this tradition and just give each other gifts or enjoy dates as well.

It may sound pretty one-sided, but Valentine’s Day in South Korea isn’t just a one-day kind of event.

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White Day

White Day, celebrated on March 14th, is a time for women to get theirs. White Day was actually invented in Japan by the marshmallow industry as a way for men to repay the kindness they were shown on Valentine’s Day. Men who receive a gift can give anything back to those they got chocolate from, such as white chocolate, flowers, diamonds, plushies, or stuffed animals. 

However, the value of the gift is still important. There are kind of informal rules of what the value of the gift means. For example, men should give a gift about three times the value of the chocolate they received IF he wants to reciprocate her feelings. The same value can mean that he doesn’t really like her in that way

These are really just guidelines, but many men use this as their starting point when deciding what to do. That being said, there are plenty of men and women who don’t get any Valentine’s loving from their crushes. That’s where South Korea has you covered.

A man covers his girlfriend's eyes while he presents her a present for White Day, a follow-up holiday for Valentine's Day in South Korea.

Black Day

Unlike Valentine’s Day and White Day, Black Day (April 14th) is a unique follow-up holiday straight from South Korea for single people. It may sound depressing, but the holiday supposedly started as a means for people to get together with their friends and express their despair after a failed Valentine’s Day and White Day. 

However, nowadays, it is almost like another celebration entirely. Plenty of people are happy to be single. Much like other countries, young people are often overworked, tired, and don’t have time to focus on dating or starting families. Whatever free time they do have is dedicated to platonic friendships that uplift their mood, which deserves to be celebrated.

But how do you celebrate Black Day? Well, it’s actually really easy. Get your friends together, head to a Korean-Chinese restaurant, and order Jajangmyeon (black noodles), a delicious Chinese noodle dish but with a Korean black sauce. For those going all out, this holiday is celebrated by wearing black, or even, wearing black nail polish.

This may be the last day in the grand scheme of Valentine’s Day in South Korea, but there are even more love-centered holidays in the birthplace of K-pop.

A woman using chopsticks to hold black noodles, a common food for Black Day, in a Korean-Chinese restaurant.

Monthly Couple’s Holidays

As it turns out, South Koreans really just love love. In fact, there’s at least a holiday a month made for couples, most landing on the 14th of whatever month the holiday is in. Let’s just go over a few of our personal favorites.

January 14th is Diary Day, when couples buy each other diaries that they can write their thoughts, feelings, goals, and important dates or events in. June 14th is now known as Kiss Day. Although PDA is generally frowned upon, June 14th is the perfect day for a summer kiss at an event. Plus, plenty of stores offer special deals on Korean lip tints, Korean lip masks, and other lip-related products!

Another interesting day is September 17th, which has turned into Confession Day for young South Koreans. It’s the day to tell someone just how you feel and start those relationships. Why? Well, it’s simple. 

If you do it on this day, your 100-day anniversary will be on Christmas Day. How cute!

Going back to PDA, December 14th is Hug Day. Couples keep each other warm in the middle of cold December with lots of hugs from their partners. Sock companies also want a piece of the pie, so socks may also be offered up to keep that special someone warm. 

There are plenty more love-inspired holidays out there including: Wine Day, Green Day (for soju), Photo or Music Day, and even Pepero (a snack similar to Pocky) Day. 

What is the most interesting part of Valentine’s Day in South Korea for you? Any days you’d like to celebrate where you are? Let us know in the comments below!

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