Valentine’s Day in South Korea: A delightful and complicated social game

Understanding how some East Asians celebrate Valentine’s Day can tell us a lot about Western culture and what the East and West have in common.

Thousands of 'locks of love' hang on the wall of a terrace of the N Seoul Tower on the top of Nam mountain in Seoul. Young couples hang their 'locks of love' and throw the key away in the hope for eternal love. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

South Korea is much in the news thanks to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. As a result, all sorts of interesting things about Korean culture are bubbling up. What is really thought-provoking this time of year is how South Koreans celebrate Valentine’s Day. Rather than celebrate a single day of romantic gestures, South Korea extends the holiday over several days and celebrates specific roles for each gender.

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