해피 할로윈! Yes, I am aware that I am writing this after the fact and that Halloween was almost a month ago. Still, I thought I would take the time to reflect on my experience of Halloween in South Korea this semester.
Halloween as a Holiday
In Korea, Halloween is celebrated a bit differently that in the States. For starters, while some Koreans dress up in various costumes, it isn’t that common to be walking around the streets of Seoul wearing a costume. There are still some that do though. Most stores decorate their interiors/exteriors with Halloween decorations and have spooky decor, but there isn’t any trick or treating that goes on. Still there are some halloween celebrations and festivals that are held during this month.
Rules & Restrictions
Even before the Halloween celebrations began, the government sent out a bunch of rules regarding celebrations and urged people to not go out partying in largely crowded areas such as Itaewon and Gangnam, which are famous for having large foreigner populations and big crowds. While many of the foreign exchange students were very excited to celebrate this holiday in Korea, many of the rules and restrictions were directed towards foreigners in particular.
However, despite the restrictions and threat of possible deportation if foreigners didn’t obey social distancing and covid orders, people (both Koreans and foreigners) still flocked to these large party areas the day of Halloween to dress up and have a good time. Someone later told me that it felt like they were a bunch of sardines in a small sardine can as they tried walking down a street in Itaewon, but were engulfed by the crowd of people there.
I – on the other hand – would be found studying all day at a cafe on the day of Halloween. However, I did treat myself to some carrot cake and a Halloween McDonalds meal for dinner that day.
Lotte World Experience
Anyways, to start off the Halloween weekend, a group of buddies from my school and I went to Lotte World. Think of it as a bigger and better Disneyland here in Korea, There is both an indoor and outdoor section of the amusement park that includes haunted houses, a very pretty carousel, and two indoor rollercoasters. Plus, there is a huge castle and tons of rides outside that were decorated from head to toe with halloween decorations. Part of the tradition when coming here is to rent out these school outfits to wear around the park, but my friends and I choose to not do that. That night, there was even a Halloween zombie performance on the top of the castle (in replacement of the usual Zombie parade) and so many Halloween costumes! In every direction, I saw someone wearing the following:
There was even a spooky Gongcha store at the park! (see photo below) The experience was very fun. I tried a haunted house, a Halloween-style churro, and bought a cute animal headband to complete the theme-park look. However, there were lines for every ride that lasted anywhere from 1-2 hours per ride so I only rode one ride before the park closed early 🙁
Nevertheless, the whole experience was amazing and I was happy to have gone during the Halloween weekend. The park definitely came to life as it became closer to night time.
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