Halloween is coming up fast do you have your costume yet? In the west and many English countries Halloween is a fun holiday (though not usually recognized with time off from school or work) for kids and adults to eat candy, dress up, watch scary or Halloween-themed movies, and more.
So in the spirit of Halloween this post is dedicated to Halloween in Korea, Koreas own spooks, and some vocab to go along with the season!
Is Halloween Celebrated in Korea?
Halloween isn’t a holiday or normal celebration in Korea. It’s only recently that it started gaining popularity; specifically in Itaewon where many foreigners and foreign businesses exist. More and more young adults are going out to party, drink at bars, and dress up in costumes to celebrate Halloween in Korea, but the tradition of kids trick or treating has not caught on at all.
2022 Seoul Halloween Crowd Crush
Tragically, only last year in Itaewon Halloween celebrations got too crowded and caused the largest crowd crush in South Korea. While a direct cause hasn’t been identified people haven’t forgotten and many families of victims have been rallying for change. Pushing for the government to ensure safety at large gatherings and more of an investigation into the disaster. It’s said that during the crush many emergency calls went unacknowledged; so Koreans are calling to question about their preparedness to handle similar events.
This is still weighing heavily on peoples minds and tied to Halloween in Korea so celebrations are very reduced this year. Many Itaewon bars have avoided hosting any specific Halloween events this year. Hopefully situations like this can be avoided in the future and crowd control will be better regulated to keep everyone safe.
Korean Ghouls, Ghosts and Spooks
귀신 are dead people who are trapped on earth because of some kind of revenge, or unfinished business on earth.
처녀귀신: Virgin Ghost: women with long black hair covering their face
물귀신: Water Ghost: drags you into water so you share the same fate
달걀귀신: Egg Ghost: face is like an egg, smooth and featureless
도깨비 are nature deities or spirits possessing extraordinary powers, strength and abilities to interact with humans. They often play pranks on humans or punish them but there are different types from mischievous to foolish, so it can depend on the story sometimes. Also popularly depicted as the main character in the kdrama Goblin (쓸쓸하고 찬란하神 – 도깨비).
구미호: Nine-Tailed Fox
구미호 is seen in Korean, Japanese and Chinese mythology. A fox that lives a thousand years turns into a 구미호 giving it power to freely transform typically into a beautiful woman to seduce men and eat their liver or heart. 구미호 is very popular depicted in various media in, most popularly Naruto, the kdrama My Girlfriend Is a Nine-Tailed Fox, and the League of Legends character Ahri.
저승사자: Korean Grim Reaper
저승사자 is always depicted in human form wearing a black hanbok and traditional Korean black hat. The job of a 저승사자 is to guide newly deceased souls to the afterlife not to kill or judge the deceased. They often appear before someones time of death and lingering outside places where lots of death has occurred.
빨간마스크: Red Mask Lady
A women who looks normal until she takes off her face mask and reveals her slit cut mouth. If you meet her she will take off her mask and ask “Am I beautiful?” if you say no she gives you a slit mouth out of anger, but if you say yes she’ll give you a slit mouth so you can be beautiful too. The trick is to confuse her and gives a vague answer to get just enough time to run away.
Korean Halloween Vocab
To finish off let’s get into some vocab related to Halloween:
검은 고양이: black cat
주문을 걸다: to cast a spell
유령의 집: haunted house
Have a happy Halloween everyone and make sure to be safe!