Halloween isn’t a holiday traditionally celebrated in South Korea — but as Seoul has grown more cosmopolitan in recent years and with an increasing number of South Koreans returning after years abroad, it has become a more popular occasion, one in which the city’s emerging diversity is on full display.
Less than a decade ago, Halloween was nothing more than a fancy-dress party known to Koreans through Hollywood movies. Now, it’s common to see people here donning masks and capes and stores promote Halloween-themed treats throughout October.
It’s not in any kind of way a traditional holiday for Koreans, but it’s something that especially young adults love to enjoy in some fashion, possibly due to the influence of American media.
Every year, the idea of celebrating Halloween also seems to be gaining popularity, even if it has remained significantly different from traditional celebrations of the holiday.
For example, you may be able to find Halloween-specific discounts or other types of specials in some stores. Notably, bakeries and cafes may come up with drinks and pastries related to Halloween that you’ll regret not tasting the one time. You might even find a zombie bartender who’ll make you a drink!
Don’t be surprised if you find some masterfully decorated monster cupcakes or ghost donuts or the like, especially at places such as Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme. Independent locally-owned cafes likely will also have cakes aligning with the Halloween theme.
Korean Halloween costume parties
Costume parties are a big part of Halloween in South Korea! Especially in the different neighborhoods of Seoul, you can put on a costume and go out for a fun night out without being looked at as weird. You can dress up as a ghost, monster, zombie, or perhaps your favorite fictional character!
Enjoy a Halloween Party in key cities in South Korea
You can enjoy Halloween in a costume anywhere in the city, but for the flashiest night, head over to either Itaewon or Hongdae. Especially Itaewon, the part of Seoul that’s known to be particularly foreigner-friendly, likes to decorate its storefronts in anticipation of Halloween.
Decorating for Halloween
In case you are a teacher at a school or an academy in Korea, you may get chances to decorate for Halloween with your students and maybe even do an event around it. But in general, parents don’t tend to celebrate this event with their children, not in a big manner, anyway.
It is more likely they would take their kid to an amusement park to watch the parade rather than have them all dressed up in costumes. American military bases may, of course, be notable exceptions to this.
While you won’t be able to find any big orange pumpkins in South Korea – except possibly at military bases – there are other types of pumpkins available at grocery stores. By utilizing them, you can make delicious pumpkin meals and treats, such as a pumpkin pie, in celebration of the holiday at home.
Zombie Run Festival
With the first race having been arranged in 2019, Halloween festivals like the Zombie Run Festival have the potential of becoming a popular activity to get swept up in on Halloween. This is a modern part of Halloween that was also first put into action in the United States, from where Koreans picked it up.
In Zombie Run, participants are divided into two groups. One group consists of survivors, which is where general participants get placed, and their task is to run away from the zombies. The other group, of course, is the zombies.
They are played by professionals, with proper Zombie costumes and makeup on. The run is 3 kilometers long as a whole and is expected to take up to 1 hour, starting from Lotte World Tower.
Halloween in Itaewon
Once the big night comes, everyone who’s anyone will put on elaborate costumes of their liking and go roam around the streets of Itaewon. There may not always be an official costume contest held, but just parading around the streets filled with bars operates as a showcase for the dressers and general crowds in Itaewon.
If you have seen the Korean drama Itaewon Class, you may already have an idea of what to expect, as it was shown quite accurately in this drama.
Halloween in Hongdae
In Hongdae, many people will also dress up and spend the night hopping through bars and clubs. Some meetup organizations like Seoul Pub Crawl may also host special events like bar hopping as well, which may be fun to join with friends or alone.
For those who get exhausted over how crowded Itaewon gets, there may also be more much-welcomed breathing space on the streets of Hongdae. Even so, Hongdae is also expected to get full with Halloween party people in costumes.
Halloween in Gangnam
Although Gangnam is not as big of a spot for Halloween brawls and costume parties, you do find one of the best costume shops in Seoul in that neighborhood. It’s called Toy Party Store, and it may be quite fun to go have a look around.
You’re guaranteed to find some Halloween-related accessories there, even if you don’t find costumes to your liking. A Haunted Factory Party also takes place in Gangnam, hosted by Global Seoulmates.
Source: 90daykorean.com; koreaherald.com