How to celebrate Christmas in South Korea
Just like the rest of the world, Koreans celebrate Christmas in South Korea. Thirty percent of South Korea’s total population is Christian, so it makes sense that Christmas is a national holiday. The celebration of Christmas in South Korea is similar to celebrations in Europe and the United States. However, in North Korea, things are very different.
Below are some Christmas traditions in South Korea:
- Exchanging Christmas cards
Children in South Korea celebrate Christmas by exchanging Christmas cards. No matter how many friends they have, children send cards to everyone, and reply to all the cards they receive. Children also usually make their cards.
- Christmas Eve Worship
Most Christians and churches have a special Christmas worship service on Christmas Eve.
- Gifts from Santa
On Christmas, many children look forward to receiving gifts from Santa Claus. Interestingly, the Santa Claus in South Korea wears red and blue clothes and is known as “Santa Kullosu” or Santa Grandfather. Before Christmas arrives, children compete in trying to do good things, so that Santa will give them the gifts they want for Christmas.
- Decorate the city, church and home
Many churches are decorated with beautiful lights and Christmas ornaments. You will also see decorations all over the city and in homes.
- Christmas Dinner
South Koreans usually prepare dinner at home. The dishes are typical Korean foods, such as potato noodles, rice cake soup, roast beef (bulgogi) and kimchi. Some people go out to eat. On Christmas Day, restaurants in Korea have special events and dishes, like Christmas cake. Christmas Dinner, though, is always a family event.
- Christmas Parade
Christmas parades are held in big cities like Seoul. In this parade, many people dress like Santa Claus and run through the streets singing Christmas songs.
- Christmas Caroling
Korean youth and children visit the homes of church members to sing Christmas carols and give Christmas gifts.
Christmas in South Korea is very different from the celebration in North Korea.
In North Korea, Christians cannot celebrate Christmas royally (or publicly). They celebrate Christmas in secret, because if they are caught celebrating they can be put in jail, or even shot. So Christmas services are done quietly in a home or in the basement. So, if you happen to be in North Korea over the holidays, restrain yourself from celebrating too publicly, or wishing too many people a “Merry Christmas.”
One other thing you will surely not witness in North Korea: Penguins in Santa suits, as it is forbidden.
And if you are traveling to North Korea, South Korea or anywhere internationally this Christmas season, call us for your travel medical insurance. One of our professional international insurance agents at https://www.gninsurance.com will be glad to serve you. Or call us at 480-633-9500 or on our toll free number at 866-636-9100. You can also use in case you want to email us your request. Many of our agents and staff have lived and served overseas for many years. In fact the founder of Good Neighbor Insurance (GNI) lived overseas for 32 years in Indonesia. His sons were born and raised in Indonesia until they went off to college.