An American Halloween in Korea

My first real taste of homesickness in Korea came with Halloween. I really don’t think there is any place in the world to be on Halloween other than New York City. The parade, the mobs of people on the streets and subways in costumes, the decorations.. no one does Halloween like New York (at least, not that I know of).

Halloween isn’t really celebrated in Korea. Very few kids dress up. There is no trick-or-treating. There are no decorations. It seemed like the main reason stores sold any costumes at all (the biggest stores had a stand or two of Halloween-y things) was because English schools celebrate the holiday.

In school, being ambassador of Western culture, I took it upon myself to spread Halloween festiveness. I made a big Halloween presentation for all of my classes, showing a clip from The Nightmare Before Christmas (which never got old – not even on the 19th time). I also distributed candy corn to some of my students and some teachers, in costume. It seemed that no one had seen or really heard of candy corn before, but the verdict was that it was quite good. My co-teacher and I dressed up for the Friday before.

Halloween in School

Halloween in School
With some of my 6th graders.

On Halloween, I headed to Daegu (Korea’s 3rd biggest city) with my English-teaching friends to join a bar crawl. As Koreans don’t really celebrate Halloween, the bar crawl was pretty much entirely foreigners. Most of the locals we encountered on the streets of Daegu seemed to know what was going on with the costumes though, and seemed mostly amused.

I believe the evening is best told in pictures (which I have borrowed from my friends).

Halloween in Daegu - heading out for the evening
Headed out for the evening.

We walk the streets at night...

...we go where eagles dare...

...they pick up every movement...

Mr. Muscle on the streets of Daegu
Mark aka Mr. Muscle (some British thing)

Alan from the Hangover
Dave aka Alan from the Hangover (apparently The Hangover is quite popular even in Korea)

Firework photo op in front of Gogo Party
The first bar we went to gave us sparklers and set off fireworks while they took pictures.

Halloween in Daegu

Cocktail a bag at Gogo Party
They also served drinks in bags.

Harlem Globetrotters

Halloween in Daegu
Eddie the vampire and Ellen the fairy


The best ajumma costume of the night.

Halloween in Daegu

Halloween in Daegu

We stayed at a ‘love motel’, popular to stay at because they are usually the cheapest option. They’re also rent-able by the hour and come ‘fully equiped’:
Love Motel - fully stocked and ready for action
Me and three of my friends decided it would be a good idea for all four of us to try to fit in one room, in one bed. This wasn’t the most comfortable decision, but it was definitely the cheapest.

The weekend ended at The Holy Grill, a western restaurant, for breakfast. Nothing beats an American diner breakfast after a night out!

So, while nothing can quite compare NYC when it comes to Halloween, celebrating in Korea can be very festive as well.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brian
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 01:25:19

    Hey my name is Brian..I am going to be entering Korea here in a few weeks(at the end of Sept) to become an ESL instructor in Ulsan as well(with EPIK). Seems like you have some great information on your website..but was wondering if you wouldnt mind sharing some more info with me about your travels. If you are willing to share your email..I would like to find some more info about Ulsan. Thanks for your time


  2. Joy
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 00:29:43

    Part of my post on the topic…at..



  3. Trackback: Halloween! « Annie Around the World

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: