Valentine’s day is kind of a big deal in United States, but in South Korea, people take it to whole another level. I would say that Valentine’s Day is as popular in South Korea as Halloween is in the U.S. In America, we put up decorations before Halloween and buy costumes. Kids look forward to the moment to load up the trash bag with candies. Likewise, on Valentine’s Day, Koreans spend a lot of money on chocolates, flowers, balloons, and other presents for their loved ones. During Valentine’s day season, if you enter into any convenience store, you will be surprised at how elaborately they prepare for the day.
One big part of the holiday is what is called “surprise-events.” In the past, Valentine’s Day in Korea was a day for women to surprise men with gifts like their favorite cologne. Then, a man who received a gift on Valentine’s Day would return the favor by giving the woman his gift a month later, on March 14th, which was called White Day. Today, however, it is common for both men and women to surprise their loved ones with presents. The terms of V-day and White day are no longer emphasized among the younger generation.
Have you ever seen those videos where men are proposing to their women with a bouquet of roses and balloons? Imagine an entire country swept up in such lovey-dovey spirit. During particular season, Korean people spend millions of dollars on chocolate or any related-sweets. These candies are no longer bought for their loved ones but rather for classmates and coworkers. Indeed, the chocolate-giving culture has become an ordinary custom for Korean people on Valentine’s day.
Nonetheless, Korean people love holidays, whether it is day for chocolate or to eat Pepero, chocolate covered stick-shaped snacks. People love to come together in a spirit of celebration. As my grandpa used to say, Korean people cannot live without ‘jung’: a word that defines the irresistible relationship that bonds every person in Korea. Perhaps, it is true that Korea knows how to share the love when you look at the streets in February, elaborately decorated in pink and red.
The Valentine’s day is this coming Wednesday. Spread and share the love like Koreans.