Is Anything Going to be Open for Chuseok?
There’s a lot of joyous chatter about the glorious golden holiday this year where the nation will take 10 days off to relax and enjoy a much needed break from the daily stresses of work and political banter. Chuseok has traditionally been a holiday focused on family and the Korean tradition of honoring an annual lunar harvest. Homes are filled with generations of family and bountiful smells of a feast and fortune as Koreans arduously travel in mass on a pilgrimage to become one again with their loved ones.
Korean media has been filled with news about how busy the travel season will be
with the chaotically competitive rush to buy bus and train tickets. Every year freeways inevitably come to a standstill as they become packed with cars of families leaving the big cities to head to their hometowns. This year, reports are indicating 1.1 million Koreans will be headed to airports to leave the country as well for adventure and travel outside of the peninsula.
This all begs to the question, is anything going to be open for Chuseok? For 10 days which includes two other holidays National Foundation Day and Hangul Day, who will serve the singletons and expats who don’t have family in Korea? And also for tourists alike where the meaning of Korean thanksgiving is all but lost except for the generous gifts of rice cakes and kind words 추석 잘 보내세요 (chu-sok chal bon-eh say-oh) loosely meaning happy chuseok, what will they do? Is it possible to have a happy holiday if everyone is taking off, skipping town, and more importantly closing businesses?
No, you will not starve to death this year. While in years past, Chuseok has always represented a short reprieve from city traffic and the busy bustle of people. Most businesses would close for the official holiday and maybe a few days before and after to honor the deep cultural roots of the holiday. But times are changing and during this golden holiday season many service industry businesses plan on being open. Some will remain open through the whole holiday without a break at all.
Although nearly all local headlines have been celebrating the national decree of the extended days off, a few reports have mentioned that nearly 40% of the workforce will not be observing the whole holiday. Many workers will instead opt for overtime pay and businesses have hopes that while 60% of the nation will be at rest, they will travel locally and go shopping. The aim to boost consumption, is yet to be seen as the number of Koreans traveling abroad this October is expected to rise 30 percent compared to last year.
Many big supermarkets like E-Mart will be open during the whole holiday period and operating regular schedule so this year there will be no need to stock-up for closures. Through the years, more and more restaurants have remained open as well with this year being no exception. In the big cities even housekeeping and quick delivery services will be open on all of the official holidays.
Many tourist sites will be open including places like the Korean Folk Village, Independence Hall, The War Memorial, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Jongmyo Shrine, Seoul 63 Square, Seoul Tower, Hangang River Ferry Cruise, COEX Aquariam, Lotte World, Seoulland, Everland, Seoul Grand Park, and many more. Some malls will also remain open like Times Square while others may vary by shop. The local service industry businesses that decide to close will mostly observe a variation of days between October 3 to 5.
For those who are traveling, most accommodations are expected to be open and busy. Extreme patience will be a must when trying to get from one place to another, but hey, remember you’re on vacation so just go with the flow and relax into the wave of other travelers and move to the pulse of the crowd. This is a golden opportunity to enjoy all that Korea has to offer if you get the full 10-day holiday period off.
Wonderful will observe Chuseok holiday and be closed on October 4 and 5. For those who have made advance travel plans through Wonderful or are expecting services during those days, we will have staff on-call for emergency situations for our members.
Since there’s still time between now and the holiday, we recommend making your requests now. While many places will be open, delivery services such a tekbeh and post offices will be closed for the whole holiday period. Product deliveries scheduled too late may have to wait until regular delivery services resume after October 10. Quick delivery services are still available everyday, but you can expect it to be offered at premium costs.
If you’re not sure what to do for Chuseok this year and have the time-off, we recommend perhaps traveling down to Namhae for Oktoberfest if you’re a German beer enthusiast. Or perhaps a weekend getaway to go to apple picking for those who want a relaxed scenic getaway. Several of our clients are finding their way to Jeju Island and Ulleungdo Island to soak up the last rays of sun before it gets too cold. It’s also a good time to visit some of the other bigger cities like Busan or Daegu if you’re up for a road trip. If you're going to be in Seoul, there's also great tours you can partake in including makgeolli making and tasting as well as ghost tours if you're looking for something a bit different.
We’ve helped our clients book bus tickets and accommodations as well as pet motels for the fur babies. Whatever you plan on doing, have a Wonderful and safe holiday. Cheers!