Here is a list of 2014’s Public holidays in South Korea which are often know as Red Days or simply Days Off work. Sadly if a public holiday falls on a weekend it is NOT carried over onto the next workday, it’s just unlucky and this year we lose 3 days which fall on weekends (in 2013 there were also 3 days).
This year the end of winter and spring sadly have no holidays and so the whole of February, March and April contain no public holidays :(. July and November also contain no public holidays. However on the positive side 3 single day public holidays fall on Fridays making for some nice 3 day weekends. Korean New Year (Seollal) and Chuseok also add 2 days to weekends giving us two 4 day weekends :).
Here are the dates for your 2014 diary’s:
Wednesday January 1st – New Years Day (신정)
Thursday, Friday & Saturday January 30th & 31st and February 1st – Korean Lunar New Year or Seollal (설날)
Saturday March 1st – Independence Movement Day (3.1절)
Monday May 5th – Children’s Day (어린이날)
Tuesday May 6th – Buddha’s Birthday (석가탄신일)
Friday June 6th – Memorial Day (현충일)
Friday August 15th – Liberation Day (광복절)
Sunday, Monday & Tuesday September 7th to 9th – Chuseok (추석) also known as Korean Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival
Friday October 3rd – National Foundation Day (개천절)
Thursday October 9th – Hangul Day (한글날)
Thursday December 25th – Christmas Day (크리스마스)
All this means that there are 12 official days off, red days or Public Holidays in South Korea this year. Also often people are asked to work during on a public holiday and then take a day off at another time, this is pretty uncommon but perfectly legal (although not nice to work when others are outside playing). Public Holiday are a requirement for government and public buildings however private businesses are not bound to follow or observe them.
Be warned that traveling the day before, on or the after day after a public holiday can be very busy and traffic jams fully booked buses, trains and even planes are common. Therefore book in advance to avoid disappointment.
One positive is that most shops, stores, restaurants, bars etc all open on public holidays in Korea and buses and subways operate on a similar schedule to a Sunday (although as already stated they can be very busy).
*Update August 2014*
We’ve received a few emails and messages regarding Chuseok (Korean Harvest Festival) and if it’s a 2 or 3 day break. Due to a trial government ruling Public School and Government buildings will be closed on Wednesday September 10th (similar to the Elections on June 4th). However it’s optional for other private businesses, banks and the post office are expected to close. Hagwons, restaurants and other private companies / businesses may close, but they don’t have to.
Also we’d advise not planning any trips last minute as Chuseok is one of 2 mass travel holidays when Koreans visit families, hometowns and go on vacation. Seoul however is generally a little quieter.
Also Wednesday June 4th is a local election day and some public schools and businesses are closing. However it isn’t a national holiday, it’s only a public sector holiday and therefore not an official day off :(. Employers are required to give employees time off in order to vote, however they are not required to close. Voting hours are 6am to 6pm so unless your workplace/school is only open between these times you should work as normal. Remember: If you’re eligible to vote, you should be give time off in order to vote.
2014 Year of the Horse
If you have any questions about public holidays in South Korea please feel free to let us know, have a great year in South Korea.firstname.lastname@example.org