August 15 is a national holiday in Korea – and it’s the only one that both North and South Koreans officially celebrate. Liberation Day, or Gwangbokjeol as it’s known in South Korea, celebrates the end of the Empire of Japan rule in 1945. The hangul used for Gwangbokjeol 광복절 are also read as ‘Restoration of light.’

On the 15th, an official ceremony hosted by the South Korean president usually takes place at the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan. Click here for more information on the Independence Hall in Cheonan. There’s also an official song which is sung at the ceremony here. Elsewhere, the Korean flag taegukki is proudly displayed in public. Special pardons are sometimes granted by the government to prisoners on this day.


In North Korea, there are also public events to celebrate the day, most likely only in the capital city of Pyongyang. This tour company advertises a funfair, group dances in hanbok and firework displays on the evening of the 15th.

The official Gwangbokjeol song

Last year was the 70th anniversary of Liberation day. Take a look at the events in Seoul here.

Talk to Me in Korean also explains the history behind the event well


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British writer and editor living in Japan. Currently studying Japanese, Korean, K-pop dance, and the fine form of 이성종's legs.