Korean & American Holidays to Remember

Don’t Forget the Holidays

Lunar New Year is the perfect excuse to spend 60,000won on an adorable Hanbok for the kids.

When moving to or from Korea, don’t forget that the holidays can put a real damper on plans for setting up plane tickets or shipping household goods and vehicles. In Korea, each US military installation will observe American AND Korean holidays. We were surprised after our arrival to South Korea, during an extremely cold January, that  most of the offices we needed to in-process would be closed for up to five days due to Lunar New Year. Back then, before policies made life easier for dependents and families,  only active duty could enter the front door of the commissary and PX. After asking around, we came into some misinformation that the kids and I weren’t even allowed to enter the building holding the PX and foodcourt without a rations card and it was too cold for us to wander around and test that theory. While my husband had to report for duty we had no Commissary, no PX and it was too cold to wander the Ville .  It was a long long weekend of Burger King and sitting alone in a hotel room with the kids. Thankfully, policies are now in place to prevent these kinds of things from happening but everyone should still be ready for holidays and closed offices.

When making any plans, including personal vacations, remember to schedule around the Korean and American holidays. It’s best to schedule arrivals, departures, shipments, car trips, etc AFTER major holidays. It varies who will or won’t work during major holidays so it’s best to assume everything will be closed. Stay up to date on holiday closings at the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys Facebook Page.

Below is a list of most observed holidays. Some of the minor Korean holidays have been left off. Even though they are observed nationwide, not all Korean holidays affect hours or services. Major, week long holidays are in bold and exact days off vary. Other holidays are 3 day weekends and service members may receive a DONSA for a 4 day weekend. 

Avoid the roads on major Korean holidays. The U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys Facebook Page will put out warnings when to not travel the roads due to heavy holiday traffic.

  • US/KR New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • US Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Third Monday in January)
  • KR Lunar New Year aka Seollal (Date Varies: Feb 16, 2018; Feb 5, 2019; Jan 25, 2020) Lasts 4-5 Days, most offices will be closed. 

    Around Korean Thanksgiving, Chuseok, attend a cooking class. Chuseok food is a delight and could easily end up on your own Thanksgiving table later in November.

  • US Washington’s Birthday (Third Monday in February)
  • KR Children’s Day (May 5)
  • US Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
  • US Independence Day (July 4)
  • KR Liberation Day (August 15)
  • US Labor Day (First Monday in September)
  • KR National Foundation Day (October 3)
  • US Columbus Day (Second Monday in October)
  • US Veterans Day (November 11)
  • KR Thanksgiving Day aka Chuseok (Date Varies: Sept 23-28, 2018) Biggest Korean holiday for driving and visiting families in Korea. Most offices will be closed. 
  • US Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)
  • US Christmas Day (December 25) Generally not a major holiday in Korea. Last Two weeks of December American Military Installations are on half-days or days off. Off-post, expect most restaurants and the rest of the Korea to be open and business as usual. 
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