Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Celebrating The New Year Korean Style

Here is the first sunrise of the 2011 year. Watching the sun rise NYD is good luck.
    Multiple readers have e-mailed me asking what New Year's Eve was like in Korea. Even though it is already Thursday, this is one celebration worth talking about. Unfortunately, with the New Year comes our busiest month at ESL schools, so this post is coming a few days late! The biggest New Year's event happens every year in Seoul, and  is pretty much equivalent to the giant ball dropping in New York City at Times Square. There is also a famous event on the morning of New Years Day. So what is the Korean equivalent of NYC New Years?
    Well, there is no fancy ball, but there is a giant bell ringing ceremony. Last year the President even came out to ring the famous Bosingak bell which dates all the way back to 1346. The bell is housed in a beautiful traditional Korean style building, and events take place all day leading up to the ringing of the bell at midnight. The bell is located in the historical downtown area of Jongno, which is a great place to remember old times and celebrate the future.

Here is a picture taken before the famous bell ringing ceremony at around 5 pm.
    The event is pretty lackluster in my opinion. Everyone stands outside for hours in the freezing cold weather to hear the giant bell ring and see a few fireworks. My group of friends ending up hiding out in a restaurant behind the bell until about 5 minutes before midnight. Then we walked outside and joined the crowded streets packed with policemen, and participated in the countdown. Immediately after the event people start clearing away from the site, but there were many people who stayed to shoot off personal fireworks.
A picture taken behind the famous bell tower during the ringing ceremony.
    In my opinion the event is completely overrated, but it is definitely something that everyone should experience once in their life while they are living in Korea. Although the New Years Eve ceremony is lackluster, the New Years morning tradition is one that I strongly recommend. Every year on New Years morning, thousands of Koreans get up before dawn and venture to the coast or mountain tops to watch the sun rise. Watching the first sun rise of the new year will bring you good luck and karma for the rest of the year.
    My first opinion of the sun rising events was, "are these people nuts?" But my morning spent on top of Namsan Mountain was truly one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life. Everyone was so excited to see the sun, and when it finally came up you heard cheers and applauds from everyone. There was so much happiness and love present that morning it was almost overwhelming. Once the sun comes up you are supposed to make a wish for the new year and announce it to your friends and family who will also wish for your happiness too. To learn more about sun rising events and festivals in Korea during New Years visit The Korea Tourism Organizations website here.

Another view of the first 2011 sunrise on top of Namsan Mountain.
If you have any questions or comments about "Celebrating The New Year Korean Style" please leave them in the comment box below or email them to

Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

2 개의 댓글:

korean style said...

Usually people must follow the new trend era of style and fashion with various number of choices, they continues to change their taste of style as per the trend changes, so its better to watch the new year style of Korean fashions from this post which I hope would be a the next generations choice.

maruko said...

how do u go up to namsan mountain in the wee hours?! drive?

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Creative Commons License
Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
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