Thursday, November 11, 2010


People everywhere, today is a very important day, an annual celebration in Korean culture, where Koreans come together to be friends, to love one another and to exchange chocolate biscuit sticks, eh?!

So, Korea likes holidays, no Korea LOVES holidays. As well as its Solar New Year, Independence movement day, Childrens Day, Memorial Day, Liberation Day, Foundation Day, Christmas Day, Lunar New Year, Buddha's Birthday and Harvest Moon Festival. All of which qualify for a day (or 3) off work (gotta love Korea).

There are also unofficial national holidays throughout the year, much like Valentines Day (they celebrate that too). However, they don't just celebrate valentines day on the 14th, that's just not enough, in Korea the 14th of the month, every month, is to be a 'fun-filled day" mostly for couples. Valentine's day in Korea is a time when the females actually give to the males and as Korea is less gender specific than most countries it is common to see men with pink teddies, roses and chocolates on this day (and why the hell not!). Fear not, the following month on, yes, the 14th is 'White Day'. This time it's the men's turn to give, give, give (apparently candy NOT chocolate).
A poster from a popular bakery "Tous Les Jous"(Source)

April 14th is assigned 'Black Day' and with a name of such doom and gloom comes a time for Singles to rejoice, or not, apparently 'lonely singles are not in the best of moods' following the 2 previous months and must comfort one another over large bowls of  'Jjajangmyeon', black noodles.

Noodles for the 'lonely & bitter'  (Source)

" Their sense of camaraderie will be stronger on this day as they declare "No to couples, and yes to singles!" but there are a few singles that find a suitable mate."

The Official Site of Korea Tourism.

The 14th of each month is then assigned various names/themes such as 'Green day', 'Kiss Day' and 'Hug Day' a full list is available here

OK, so today, what could today possibly be....


Pepero Day! (source)

Pepero's (source)

Firstly, what is a Pepero?
Pepero (also known as Poky) is a long thin biscuit, that has been dipped in chocolate- covering 3/4 of the stick, there's also flavoured Pepero and different type's of nut Pepero.

Pretty Tasty (source)

Yep Korea has an entire day dedicated to a biscuit.

Why? Well there are two stories, one is that on the 11th day of the 11th month, 2 middle school girls in Busan decided the 11.11 looked like Pepero's and therefore decided to exchange Pepero's with the well wishing that they would 'grow tall and slim like a Pepero'.

However, the second story is much less charming and also more likely. The company 'Lotte' who make Pepero (and own just about everything in Korea) created one of the greatest marketing tools, an unofficial holiday dedicated to their product. Celebrated since 1994, Pepero Day is taken seriously in Korea.


Artistic displays of Pepero boxes can be seen everywhere in the run up to Pepero Day, hearts, characters, robots and people are just a few I have seen this year.

Pretty Good

Furthermore, the usual box of Pepero costs around 600 Won (about 30 pence) and contains about 10 sticks around 6 inches long. However in a culture where people are always striving to have the biggest, the best, the most expensive....For Pepero day you can buy Pepero in all sizes, one box was even 60,000 Won (that's over £30 for biscuits). Obviously other companies have caught on and you can now buy different brands of Pepero, Pepero sticks from the bakers, Pepero cushions, rugs etc.

Other more fancy Pepero (Source)

Well, today was my first Pepero day in South Korea, I was not sure what to expect or even what to I buy students Pepero? Do I buy co-teachers Pepero? Do I buy Friends Pepero? Will anyone actually buy me Pepero?

I settled on taking 3 small boxes into school for co-teachers, safety. This is mine and Paul's collection of Pepero's at the end of the day:

Our little lot: 23 was my count at the end of the day!

I also got one slightly special Pepero from my daily companion after classes are over, 'Anna', she comes everyday (pretty much) just to talk (for hours), she hid this in my bag:

To Corey Teacher
Today is Pepero day
Then, I give Pepero for you.
Because. You teaching, playing, talking, helping-
Bye- From Anna.

All in all a great day! Now I'm not one to support commercialism but the students really were so happy, walking coyly into my room at break to hand me Pepero's. So, why not hey, costs much less than Christmas (and I bloody love that too!)...hmm contradiction.

Photos from various sources.

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