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Love in a time of Korea

Love is definitely something to be celebrated.

When we are in love, sometimes we feel like shouting it from the rooftops, or in today’s technological age, we simply update our Facebook or Tweet it for an immediate response from everyone we know. Each and every day in the lives of two people who love each other is important, even if Americans only publicly recognize it one day a year.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and men and women all over the country will buy chocolates and flowers for their significant others in what could be considered the largest display of affection in the world. Traditionally, this holiday is for the women of the world, although in our community, those standards are flipped / turned upside down.

Love is celebrated in some fashion or another in every culture. One particular country where love is taken very seriously is South Korea. Korea doesn’t have one day of love like America, they have three widely celebrated days of love. Is this a corporate ploy to make more money? Quite possibly, but wait until these days are described to decide.

February 14 is also Valentine’s Day in South Korea, but this is a day for the men, not the women. Women all over Korea buy their special man chocolates and the like with no expectation of a return gift. That is, until the next month.

March harbors Korea’s second day of love. March 14 is called White Day. It’s also celebrated in other Asian countries, including Japan and Taiwan. This is the day for women. It is the men’s turn to buy special gifts especially white chocolate for women on White Day. However, these two days are still not enough for this love-laden country.

There is yet a third day of so-called love in Korea. The name of that day is Black Day and it is celebrated April 14. The color black initially brings a negative connotation or at least intimates something dark or stormy _ although for Koreans, it is not what you think. Black Day is for the single ladies and the single men out there, but not to celebrate singledom. Quite the opposite, Black Day is for singles to meet up, get together, and maybe even find their match.

Traditionally, singles meet on Black Day to eat a special dish in Korea called 자장면. For those that don’t read Hangul, jajangmyeon is a dish called "black noodle" in English. It is a dish with thick pasta and a black soybean and meat based sauce that gives it a very dark color. What’s more romantic than a quasi-spaghetti dinner for two when in search of the one true love we all know is out there somewhere? Maybe a true Italian dinner with a nice glass of wine, but that is a bit harder to come by in this Asian metropolis.

I guess what we can take from other cultures’ traditions, is that days can be called whatever you want, but love is always worth celebrating. If you get to see your love every day, count yourself lucky and let them know just how much they mean to you every day, not just one day a year.

Joey is a graduate of Southern Illinois University, a prior Marine, and a triathlete. Originally from Illinois, he moved to San Diego in 2004 and fell in love. He writes for pleasure while traveling the world and continuing his education. He believes that experience is the spice of life and tries to find new things to see, do, and write about, everywhere he goes.