When October rolls around every year, we anticipate the opening of pumpkin patches, the creepy decorations lining every front lawn, and the candy to start flying off supermarket shelves.
Halloween is a popular holiday celebrated in many parts of the world, and October 31st belies a variety of different traditions and customs. In many parts of Latin America, Halloween is substituted for Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a multi-day holiday that begins on October 31st and ends on November 2nd. In Ireland, the day is marked by bonfires and traditional games. And, in the United States, you could expect the streets to be flooded with trick-or-treaters of all ages, decked out in their best costumes.
But is this popular holiday celebrated in Korea?
Halloween in Korea as seen in popular Korean drama Itaewon Class.
Halloween is definitely not a traditional Korean holiday, but the event is quickly gaining popularity in many parts of South Korea.
There are some notable differences. You probably won’t see the same plastic skeletons and cloth-draped ghouls decorating people’s front porches. Trick or treating is not widespread outside of schools and college campuses, and holiday-specific haunted houses rarely make an appearance.
However, in recent years, many amusement parks are starting to roll out Halloween-themed festivals and parades. You can now find costumes at Halloween specific stores, or even at some local malls in the city. Many businesses are beginning to offer Halloween discounts and specials as the holiday becomes more and more popular.
Everland, South Korea’s largest theme park, decked out for the Halloween season.
For the most part, the actual day is mostly celebrated by young adults, and marked by one main event...costume parties! On the night of October 31st, you can head out and expect to see people decked out in their cutest or scariest gear, heading to their nearest bar or a friend’s apartment for some spooky fun!
This custom is especially true in parts of South Korea with a large foreigner population, such as the Itaewon area in Seoul. Throughout October, the storefronts are decorated with spooky accessories. And on Halloween night, a huge costume party is held on the streets of Itaewon - just as shown in the popular drama Itaewon Class!
As the holiday becomes mainstream, larger sects of the population will get in on the fun, and more Korean specific traditions will develop. For now- while Halloween in Korea may differ from how you’ve always celebrated the holiday - you can still find tons of fun things to do on October 31st!