Thursday, January 14, 2010

Korea 2010: Lacking Time-Off


I know Christmas has just past, but picture Christmas 2010. It’s Christmas Eve, Friday December 24th and you’re with family and/or friends sipping on a cup of hot chocolate or egg nog and spiced rum, mm mmm mmm. But why does this Christmas Eve feel so wonderful? Well yes, you could argue it is because you are with your loved ones, but let’s be honest, it has a lot to do with not having to be at work! Unless you’ve booked holidays over Christmas, you most likely have the 24th off in lieu of Christmas Day.

Canada and the US are great when it comes employees being paid time and a half on statutory holidays and giving a day in lieu of a holiday that falls on a weekend. We all love long weekends and about once a month we get one whether or not the holiday falls on a weekend.

Below is a list of holidays that fall on a weekend in Korea for 2010:

February 13 – Lunar New Year

February 14 – Lunar New Year

February 15 – Lunar New Year - Lunar New Year is a 3 day holiday in many Asian countries and this year two of three days fall on a weekend. So for one of the biggest holidays of the year, it’s only a 3 day weekend.

(Also called "Seol(설)" or "Gujeong(구정, 舊正)". The first day of the lunar Korean calendar. It is the most important of the traditional Korean holidays, and is considered a more important holiday than the solar New Year's Day)

June 6 – Memorial Day - This holiday falls on a Sunday, a long weekend lost.

(The day commemorates men and women who died while in military service or independence movement. It was originated from the traditional customs of Mangzhong, one of the 24 solar terms. On this day, national commemorating ceremony is held in National Cemetery)

August 15 – Liberation Day – This day falls on a Sunday, another long weekend lost.

(The day celebrates national liberation from Japan in 1945. On this day, Emperor Shōwa announced surrender and World War II was ended. On the same day of 1948, the government of the Republic of Korea was established. The word "Gwangbok" means "restoration of light")

September 21 – Chuseok

September 22 – Chuseok

September 23 – Chuseok –This 3 day holiday actually falls in the middle of the week Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We can’t complain too much because we still get the time off, but it would be fantastic to have either the Monday or Friday off to make it a really great holiday! We may not get this holiday anyway as our contract here is up at the end of August. We may however extend for one month, we’ll keep you updated as to the status of our vacation. Only time will tell!

(Chuseok is the biggest holiday of the year next to Lunar New Year. Also called "Han-gawi (한가위)". Korean traditional Harvest Festival. With Seollal, it is one of the most important Korean traditional holidays. As a celebration of the good harvest, Koreans visit their ancestral hometowns and share a feast of Korean traditional food)

October 3 – National Foundation Day – This holiday also falls on a Sunday and so it is lost.


(The day celebrates the foundation of Gojoseon, the first state of Korean nation. According to Samguk Yusa, Dangun founded Gojoseon on the 3rd day of 10th lunar month, 2333 BCE. Today, South Koreans are celebrating their national foundation on October 3 in solar calendar, for convenience sake. "Gaecheonjeol" means "Heaven-opened Day")


On a more positive note, May 21 is Buddha’s birthday. Also called "Bucheonnim Osinnal (부처님 오신 날)" or "Sawol Chopail (사월 초파일,四月初八日). The birthday of the Gautama Buddha. In South Korea, Buddhism is the one of two major religions, with Christianity.


This is one of our favourite holidays in Korea. Lotus Lantern Festival also takes place during this time. Click here and here for links to our posts of the festival in 2008.

After teaching Korean children English as a second language, we really have an appreciation for teachers back at home. We don’t have regular national holidays and two months off in the summer. We teach at a private institute and receive 10 paid vacation days a year plus national holidays. We look forward to a long weekend each month to get away from the crazy children, but this year is a little tougher than others. So to all of you at home, enjoy your statutory holidays and days in lieu!

If you’re interested in more information on Korean holidays, click here for the information on Wikipedia. (All links and detailed information on the holidays above are from Wikipedia)

January 1


Solar New Year

February 13


Lunar New Year

February 14


Lunar New Year

February 15


Lunar New Year

March 1


Independence Movement Day

April 5


Arbor Day

May 5


Children's Day

May 21


Buddha's Birthday

June 6


Memorial Day

July 17


Constitution Day

August 15


Liberation Day

September 21



September 22



September 23



October 3


National Foundation Day

December 25


Christmas Day