Teachers’ Day in South Korea

We’ve been learning about some of the most special Korean holidays in South Korea for the past few weeks. To complete the line-up of May filial celebrations/holidays in South Korea, we’ll be sharing today about “Teachers’ Day” celebrated every 15th of May.

Though technically, teachers aren’t blood-related to us, we often consider them as our second parents for they play a very big role in shaping our values and attitude in life. It is in school, as our second home, where we get to learn how to face and appreciate other people. In Neo-Confucian societies like South Korea, mentors hold a very special place due to the relevance of education to them. That is why teachers were designated a special day of their own in 1963.

This holiday was said to be started by a group of Red Cross youth team who visited their sick former teachers in hospitals. The day went on to become a special day despite being stopped in 1973 to 1982. Even though nowadays, giving cash or expensive gifts to teachers is already restricted due to bribery allegations, South Koreans still do not miss to recognize their teachers on this very special day.

During Teachers’ Day, students give carnations to their teachers as part of the traditional way of celebrating this holiday. Some also give “love cards” containing messages of gratitude towards their mentors. Ex-students visit or call their former teachers to pay respect. In some schools, classes are shortened to accommodate a special program for teachers. Students present different types of performances for their teachers’ enjoyment. Big colleges and universities also recognize and give awards to some of the most outstanding educators in their fields.




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