Bank and public holidays in South Korea: 2017-2018 guide

TransferWise
23.07.18
4 minute read

South Korea is known by many in the international community to be a friendly, welcoming country that loves a good party. The same goes for holidays in South Korea, which are a mix of modern and traditional festivals and celebrations. Ready to party like a local in South Korea? Read on to learn about some of the country’s holiday customs, as well as some more practical information like when to expect South Korea’s banks and businesses to be closed for the holidays.

National holidays in South Korea

There are 12 national holidays in South Korea, depending on the year.

  • Korean public holidays: 12
  • Korean bank holidays: 11

Celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in South Korea

In the 1930s, some Christians in South Korea started to recognize Mother’s Day, which was eventually established as a recognized holiday on May 8. Eventually, though, people started talking about starting a Father’s Day tradition, and in 1973, a presidential decree declared May 8 to be Parents Day. It’s a low-key holiday in South Korea. Children give their parents gifts of carnations, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare organizes public celebrations, including awards for some parents.

The most important holidays and dates in South Korea

South Korea celebrates its own New Year in line with the lunar calendar, on the first day of the first lunar month. The Korean New Year is an important festival that’s celebrated with ceremonies and traditional festival food over three days that workers have off.

The fall harvest festival, called Chuseok, is also an important time for South Korea. During the festival, families gather all together in their ancestral homes and celebrate the year’s harvest.

Presidential Election Day is observed as a national holiday in South Korea once every five years.

List of public holidays in South Korea for 2017

HolidayName of holiday in Korean2017 DateBank holiday?
Western New Year신정 (新正) (Sinjeong)1 January, 2017Yes
Korean New Year설날 (Seollal)28 January, 2017Yes, observed 27-30 January, 2017
Independence Movement Day3·1절 (三一節) (Samiljeol)1 March, 2017Yes
Buddha’s Birthday석가탄신일 (釋迦誕辰日) (Seokgatansinil)3 May, 2017Yes
Children’s Day어린이날 (Eorininal)5 May, 2017Yes
Memorial Day현충일 (顯忠日) (Hyeonchung-il)6 June, 2017Yes
Constitution Day제헌절(制憲節) (Jeheonjeol)17 July, 2017No
Liberation Day광복절 (光復節) (Gwangbokjeol)15 August, 2017Yes
Harvest Festival추석 (秋夕) (Chuseok)2-6 October, 2017Yes
National Foundation Day개천절 (開天節) (Gaecheonjeol)3 October, 2017Yes
Korean Thanksgiving추석 (秋夕) (Chuseok)4 October, 2017Yes
Hangul Day한글날 (Hangeulnal)9 October, 2017Yes
Presidential Election Day20 December, 2017Yes
Christmas크리스마스 (Christmas)25 December, 2017Yes

List of public holidays in South Korea for 2018

HolidayName of holiday in Korean2018 DateBank holiday?
Western New Year신정 (新正) (Sinjeong)1 January, 2018Yes
Korean New Year설날 (Seollal)16 February, 2018Yes, observed 16-19 February, 2018
Independence Movement Day3·1절 (三一節) (Samiljeol)1 March, 2018Yes
Children’s Day어린이날 (Eorininal)5 May, 2018Yes
Buddha’s Birthday석가탄신일 (釋迦誕辰日) (Seokgatansinil)22 May, 2018Yes
Memorial Day현충일 (顯忠日) (Hyeonchung-il)6 June, 2018Yes
Constitution Day제헌절(制憲節) (Jeheonjeol)17 July, 2018No
Liberation Day광복절 (光復節) (Gwangbokjeol)15 August, 2018Yes
Harvest Festival추석 (秋夕) (Chuseok)23-25 September, 2018Yes
Korean Thanksgiving추석 (秋夕) (Chuseok)25 September, 2018Yes
National Foundation Day개천절 (開天節) (Gaecheonjeol)3 October, 2018Yes
Hangul Day한글날 (Hangeulnal)9 October, 2018Yes
Christmas크리스마스 (Christmas)25 December, 2018Yes

List of public holidays in South Korea for 2019

HolidayName of holiday in Korean2019 DateBank holiday?
Western New Year신정 (新正) (Sinjeong)1 January, 2019Yes
Korean New Year설날 (Seollal)5 February, 2019Yes, observed 5-8 February, 2019
Independence Movement Day3·1절 (三一節) (Samiljeol)1 March, 2019Yes
Children’s Day어린이날 (Eorininal)5 May, 2019Yes
Buddha’s Birthday석가탄신일 (釋迦誕辰日) (Seokgatansinil)13 May, 2019Yes
Memorial Day현충일 (顯忠日) (Hyeonchung-il)6 June, 2019Yes
Constitution Day제헌절(制憲節) (Jeheonjeol)17 July, 2019No
Liberation Day광복절 (光復節) (Gwangbokjeol)15 August, 2019Yes
Harvest Festival추석 (秋夕) (Chuseok)12-14 September, 2019Yes
Korean Thanksgiving추석 (秋夕) (Chuseok)13 September, 2019Yes
National Foundation Day개천절 (開天節) (Gaecheonjeol)3 October, 2019Yes
Hangul Day한글날 (Hangeulnal)9 October, 2019Yes
Christmas크리스마스 (Christmas)25 December, 2019Yes

Sending money home for the holidays in South Korea?

Need to send money home for the holidays in South Korea? Instead of using an international bank transfer, which can take days and cost extra in fees and exchange rate markups, try TransferWise, which allows you to move money as quickly as possible for as little as possible. TransferWise only moves money between local accounts, so it never crosses borders. That means you don’t pay any international or intermediary fees. TransferWise also uses the actual exchange rate, like you’d see on Google, without any hidden fees or markups. All you have to pay is a small, fair transfer fee that’s spelled out upfront.

TransferWise also offers borderless accounts, which allow users to manage, send and receive money in 27 global currencies all at once, with more currencies being added all the time. If you live in one country and get paid in the UK, the US, the EU or Australia, then you can even get bank details to get paid like a local. Borderless account holders will even have access to consumer debit cards beginning in 2018.

Try TransferWise today and see for yourself that there’s a better way to move money.

South Korean people take their holidays seriously, and now you’re ready to celebrate just like they do, with their unique mix of modern customs and generations-old traditions. And the best part is, with this guide, you’ll never be caught needing a bank when they’re all closed for the holidays. With that stress gone, you’re free to just enjoy your time in South Korea. Happy holidays!

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location