Koreans love love. It's everywhere you look in this country. Before I moved here, I read that it's uncommon to see couples kissing on the street and that visitors should refrain from doing so themselves. I thought I would find a very conservative, private bunch of people who shied away from public displays of affection.
But I was wrong. Sure, I don't see couples kissing on the street very often, but believe me, they aren't shy about their displays of affection.
On the subways and on the streets, couples don't just hold hands, they embrace with their entire bodies. They may not lock lips, but they're attached everywhere else. And for in between those public displays of affection, couples indulge in "couple wear"---matching outfits---so that no passer-by misjudges them as "just friends."
With the desire to celebrate their love at every opportunity, couples have a selection of love-days throughout the year. The 14th of every month is some kind of celebration of love. As mentioned earlier, 14 January is Diary Day, when couples give diaries to each other so they can mark all their anniversaries and important "couple days" in preparation for the year ahead. Then, 14 February and 14 March are the two most popular love-days: Valentine's Day and White Day, respectively.
For those lacking a significant other, today's your day. It's called Black Day---the anti-couple and anti-love holiday. Today, singles all over the country will get together and eat Jjajangmyeon (noodles with black bean sauce) because, as my Korean friend put it, "they are sad." While Valentine's Day is celebrated all over the world and White Day actually originated in Japan, Black Day is proudly all Korean.
Here's the full list of monthly love-days (so get out those calendars!):
14 January: Diary Day
14 February: Valentine's Day
14 March: White Day
14 April: Black Day
14 May: Rose Day, on which lovers exchange roses, and lonely singles give yellow roses to their friends.
14 June: Kiss Day, a day for lovers to, well, kiss each other passionately.
14 July: Silver Day, when couples give silvery things to each other, ideally some silver rings "to make promises for their future" and, to top it off, couples also ask friends and family for money to pay for their date!
14 August: Green Day, for couples to picnic in parks, and singles to get drunk off soju, Korea's favourite green-bottled alcohol.
14 September: Photo Day, so couples can take pictures of their togetherness.
14 October: Wine Day, when lovers share a glass of wine and share their love.
14 November: Movie Day, a special holiday for couples to go out and watch a movie together (probably while wearing coordinating couple wear and holding each other close).
14 December: Hug Day, for couples to warm up for the cold winter months ahead (but those lonely singles are left shivering alone, I guess).
Couples also celebrate each other's birthdays, anniversaries, and hundred-day anniversaries, and there's also the popular Pepero Day (11 November) and, of course, Christmas... Maybe it's less about love and more about consumerism.
But I don't want to be negative. Koreans are caring, affectionate people, so a little celebration of love, whether it be friendship-love or romantic-love, is okay with me.
Happy White Day