From Korea with Love

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Gwangbokjeol: Korea’s Independence Day

Last week had been a very busy one. I had to go to work on Friday which is my day off. On the weekend, I had to fix the clutter in the veranda, which had been left untouched since winter, reorganize our closet and do my usual chores. My husband had been very busy running the bar with my 작은 아주버님 (chagun ajubonim or brother-in-law), so he couldn’t help me with the housework. T.T

Thank God it’s holiday tomorrow. Hopefully, I will be able to take a rest.

Tomorrow, August 15th, is South Korea’s Independence Day (광복절: Gwangbokjeol). It is one of the public holidays in SK.

Three days after South Korea achieved autonomy over Japanese colonization, the South Korean government was established on August 13th, 1948, and the first president of the country, 이승만 (Yi Seungman), declared August 15th as the official Independence Day of South Korea.

On this day, an official ceremony is held at a history museum in Cheonan, the Independence Hall of Korea, or at the largest arts and cultural complex in Seoul, Sejong Center. The ceremony is led by the president. The official song for Korea’s Independence Day (광복절 노래: Gwangbokjeol Norae) is sung.

The Korean national flag (태극기: Taegukgi) is raised to pay homage to Koreans who gallantly fought for the country’s freedom. You can also find flags displayed outside houses and buildings. There are parades citizens can take part in. Various TV networks feature special programs that are related to Korean history and independence.

The celebration of Gwangbokjeol gives hope to prisoners, too, as the government issues special pardons on this day.

Tomorrow, I will stay home the whole day, so I might have time to watch Gwangbokjeol ceremony on TV. I’m not usually curious about Independence day ceremonies even in my own country, but my husband tells me that I have to learn more about Korean history and how important Korean holidays are celebrated, not just 추석 (Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving) or 설날 (Seollal or Korean New Year).

 

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