Memorial Day in South Korea – History and Interesting Facts

Did you know that Korean Memorial Day is celebrated too?

If you are from the United States, chances are you might be familiar with the public holiday. Other countries are also familiar with Memorial day and often have celebrations to commemorate that day.

In this article, we’ll tell you all about this important day in Korea: Its history and how south Koreans celebrate it around the country. We will also teach you the Korean language term for Memorial Day! Let’s get to it.

When is Memorial Day in Korea celebrated?

Memorial Day in South Korea is a public holiday occurring on June 6th of every year. It’s a yearly event with a long history and is celebrated by regular citizens and influential public figures.

What is Korean Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is dedicated to soldiers– brave men and women, who sacrificed their lives while doing military service during war. While it commemorates all of the soldiers in general, it is specially celebrated to remember the men and women who gave their lives during Korean War and Vietnam War. The other two wars significant to this day are the Battle of Bongoh Town and the Battle of Cheongsan-ri, both fought by brave men and women against the Japanese Imperial Army 100 years ago.

Apart from heroes of the Korean wars, the holiday also celebrates other soldiers and the patriotic people who are still serving the republic.

How to say Memorial day in Korean?

In the Korean language, Memorial Day is called 현충일 (hyeonchungil).

Now when you see it marked in a calendar in Korea, you’ll know what it means! You will also be able to understand your friends from Korea when they speak to you about 현충일 (hyeonchungil)..

History of Memorial Day

This national holiday has been celebrated in South Korea since 1956. It was declared a public holiday on April 19 of 1956, specifically after the end of the Korean War.

The Korean War split the Korean Peninsula into two countries – North Korea and South Korea. The war began in 1950 and ended in 1953. It did not take long after the ending of the Korean War for June 6th to be declared a public holiday to commemorate soldiers who sacrificed their lives during Korean War.

This holiday also recognizes soldiers who served during prior conflicts that happened on Korean soil and fought for Korean independence.

When did South Korea Memorial Day Start?

The month of June has been viewed as a month dedicated to the veterans of war and patriots of South Korea since 1954. In April of 1956, the government of South Korea designated June 6 as the Korean Memorial Day.

How do people celebrate Memorial Day in South Korea?

Since 1956, a memorial ceremony has been held at Seoul National Cemetery, with the president of South Korea, other government officials, and civilians taking part in the location.

In 2020, a very special Memorial Day was had, as it also corresponded with the 100th anniversary of victory in the Battle of Bongoh Town. On this day in 2020, the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, declared this as the most significant war victory in the history of the Korean Independent Army.

Official Ceremonies

On June 6 every year, the ceremony begins at 10 in the morning. A siren rings all around the country, and the flag of South Korea is raised to half-staff. As the siren rings, South Koreans from all walks of life all around the country offer one minute of silence to pray.

The solemn event is marked by one minute of silence and remembrance of all the sacrifices their countrymen had to face to serve the republic.

Paying Respects

Even the cars and people on the streets will stop during this moment to offer their respect and pray for the war soldiers who died for this great country. It is also common for civilians and military officials to lay flowers on the graves of the soldiers who died due to the Korean War between North Korea and South Korea.

The Seoul National Cemetary is a usual place for memorial ceremonies during this day. A song known as the Memorial Day Song, or 현충일 노래 (hyeonchungil norae), is played during the memorial ceremony as some spectators watch.

It is also common for some business establishments and even households to proudly display the Korean national flag on their front doors during June as a sign of respect and honor the sacrifices of the Korean soldiers who have died for their country.

Letters to Soldiers

Before Memorial Day, some events will also be held in different schools around South Korea, in which students will make drawings related to the day. Alternatively, they will write letters to the soldiers currently serving at DMZ (demilitarized zone) between North Korea and South Korea.

Students also participate in the holiday by discussing in school the significance of the day and how the acts of these brave soldiers have impacted Korean history.

So there you have it! We hope you enjoyed these some important facts about Memorial Day in South Korea.

Holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Movement Day, National Liberation Day, and National Foundation Day are important days for national unity.

Does your country also have holidays similar to Memorial Day? How is it celebrated? Have you ever been to South Korea during their Memorial Day celebrations? Let us know below in the comments!

The post Memorial Day in South Korea – History and Interesting Facts appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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