On October 3rd, Korea celebrates the public holiday of National Foundation Day. The Korea National Foundation Day is also known as Gaecheonjeol, Dangun Day, and The Festival of the Opening of Heaven. Gaecheonjeol translates to “the day the sky opened.”
What is Korea National Foundation Day?
National Foundation Day of Korea celebrates the founding of the first organized Korean kingdom, the Gojoseon Dynasty, also known as the "old Joseon."
National Foundation Day of South Korea is said to have been founded on the 3rd day of the 10th lunar month in 2333 BCE by Dangun, but the date was changed to be celebrated on the third day of the 10th month just for modern convenience.
The day is largely based on the Korean mythology tale that Dangun's father, Hwanung, opened heaven to allow his son to descend upon the earth, ultimately founding a land on Baekdu Mountain, the place that many historians regard as the birthplace of Korea.
How Do Koreans Celebrate National Foundation Day?
National Foundation Day is a "red day" in Korea, meaning it's a public holiday where schools and businesses close.
While you can find many people enjoying the day off by just lounging at home while burning sandalwood incense sticks to worship Dangun, others venture out to participate in parades or ceremonies, go hiking or enjoy the firework displays set off for the Korea national day.
National Foundation Day Ceremonies
During the Korea Foundation Day, people flock to Dangun shrines around South Korea, where ceremonies are held in remembrance and honor of him.
An official ceremony that includes traditional ritual performances full of dance and Taekwondo martial arts exhibitions is held at the Sejong Performing Arts Center.
The summit of Mount Manisan is where Dangun is said to have descended from the heavens and left offerings to the heavens. Mount Manisan is located in Incheon and is the highest peak on Gangwha Island.
People worship at the Chamseongdan altar at the top of the mountain. Every year, people participate in the ceremony at the altar that is said to have been built by Dangun.
People who can't make it to Incheon for the trek up Mount Manisan, often choose to celebrate the holiday by visiting Halla Mountain on Jeju Island.
Halla Mountain is a volcano with an adjacent crater lake. People compare the atmosphere of Halla Mountain to that of Bakedu Mountain because they are both volcanos.
When you visit Jeju, you don't want to miss out on all the yummy treats that are exclusive to the island. Grab these Jeju Udo Peanut Tarts and these Jeju Green Mandarin Pies where one bite will take you back to the island life on Jeju.
The Daebak Company has an entire Jeju Island Collection with even more delectable finds.
For the lucky few who can manage a trip to Baekdu Mountain, it is an excellent option for a hike on Korean National Foundation Day, as it is considered the location of Korea's origin.
The mountain is the highest peak in Korea, located on the border between China and North Korea. Mount Baekdu is actually a volcano and boasts beautiful views of the nearby Heaven Lake. Only the Chinese side of the mountain is available to visitors.
As with many other holidays celebrated in Korea, the day wouldn't be complete without a fireworks display.
Locals catch the nighttime marvel by going to Yeouido Han River Park and setting up a picnic on the banks of the river.
Get there early and bring a SnackFever box along, so you have plenty of yummy snacks to choose from as you wait with friends for the fireworks show.
This Firework Festival-themed mani and Fireworks Day pedi is a perfect addition to your outfit of the day for the holiday. This set is also a collab with BTS, the South Korean boy band known as the pride of South Korea, so it's a fun way to show off your appreciation for all of Korea's achievements.
Food is an important part of Korean culture, especially during national holidays. Eating traditional Korean food is common for Korean National Foundation Day, as everyone is honoring the Korean culture.
Food stalls and restaurants around the country will offer popular dishes like japchae, samgyseospal, and jeongwwa on this holiday.
Get a taste of Korea by trying these japchae noodles. It's a savory mix of chewy glassy noodles, stir-fried veggies, and meat folded into a garlic soy sauce, topped with sesame seeds.
The Hallyu wave has opened up Korea to the world. It has allowed people to learn about Korea's rich history and Korean culture. Embrace Korea's national pride in their traditions and remember the Korean people's achievements on Korean National Foundation Day.
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Learn more about Korean culture, holidays, and traditions by checking out Daebak Magazine.