There are more Christians in South Korea than other Asian countries, so Christmas is more popularly celebrated in South Korea. Since it is an official public holiday people get the day off school and work, but they go back the 26th. They do get a longer official winter break in the New Year.
South Korea decorates similarly to America. Their churches are decorated with lights, and many have a bright red cross on top all year long. Most churches there will have a service on Christmas day. Going to Church for Christmas is becoming more popular, even among non Christians. Department stores put on big displays of decorations. The most popular lights are in the capital city, Seoul. The lights there are all over the city center including the bridges over the Han River. They also have America’s tradition of having a Christmas tree in their homes.
South Korea is also similar to America because of how they exchange presents. A popular present in South Korea is money. Giving actual gifts has become more common, but giving money is more popular. Santa Claus is different there in South Korea than here in America. Their Santa might be wearing red or blue, and he is known as Santa Kollusu or Santa Grandfather.
In South Korea, their most popular Christmas food is a Christmas Cake, which is often a sponge cake covered in cream from a local bakery. Ice cream cakes are also common. Happy/Merry Christmas in Korean is ‘Meri Krismas’ or ‘Jeulgeoun Krismas Doeseyo’. Christians in South Korea say ‘Sungtan Chukhahaeyo’ to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Christmas is very different in North Korea. If you live in North Korea, being a ‘Christian’ is officially allowed, but you can go to prison or even be killed for being a Christian or having a bible. Christians in North Korea have to meet in secret and any celebrations of Christmas will also be held in secret.
~ Keeley Hester