National Foundation Day in South Korea
National Foundation Day is a holiday observed in South Korea on the 3rd of October annually. Also known as Gaecheonjeol (“The day the sky opened”), this day commemorates the founding of Korea by Tangun in 2333 B.C. This holiday is celebrated with various ceremonies on Kanghwa Island, but it is also celebrated across the country.
Because it is a public holiday, it is a day off for most South Koreans, and many businesses, government offices, and schools are closed. This holiday allows all South Koreans to take pride in their country.
The History of National Foundation Day in South Korea
Old Korea, also known as Choson, was founded in 2333 B.C. and was the very first Korean kingdom. Legend places its founding in the basins of the Liao and Taedong Rivers. According to this legend, Prince Hwan-ung left heaven to come to Earth so he could rule. There was a tiger and a bear who prayed to the prince to become human.
The prince told them if they stayed in a cave and only ate garlic and mugwort for a hundred days, then their dream would come true. While the tiger decided to leave after only a few days, the bear completed the one hundred days and became a human woman.
The prince and she would have a son called Tangun Wanggom. When Tangun Wanggom grew up, he built a city where Pyongyang now stands and called his new kingdom Go-Joseon, meaning “morning freshness.”
Observing National Foundation Day in South Korea
The main ceremonies for this holiday occur on the summit of Mount Manisan on Kanghwa Island. However, those are not the only celebrations in South Korea. There are parades, festivals, and dances all across the country. It is a national celebration of the birthday of the Korean kingdom.