Happy All Hallows Eve! Preparing the second installment of The One Hundred Nights of Horror, I thought it would not be appropriate if I missed out a Halloween greeting.
By the way, one thing I have noticed in the last half-decade or so is that the young South Koreans celebrate Halloween these days to the point that the holiday crowd could claim a pretty noticeable presence, especially in areas like Itaewon and college campuses. Like Valentine's Day, celebration of Halloween in the current Asianized, predominantly youth-oriented, commercialized form, was developed first in Japan and imported into Korea, but these days Halloween in Korea appears to supersede the Japanese version in its popularity, at least in some respects.
Japan of course has a long history of "adapting" Euro-American social rituals into their own hybrid forms: commercialism plays a big role in this. Those who have spent some time in Japan might have recognized that, for instance, Valentine's Day in Japan has been transformed, following their gender-segregated customs, into a day when women gift men-- boyfriends, husbands, attractive co-workers, etc.-- with boxes of chocolate. Men are supposed to reciprocate by buying women "return gifts" in "White Day," March 14, which as far as was entirely invented by Japanese, but it has now apparently spread to South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and China, among other countries.
Professor Yi Taek-kwang, Kyung Hee University, in an interview explains that the Halloween celebration in South Korea first took off in the day-care centers and private academies teaching English. Combined with this is the Japanese practice of kosupure or "costume plays," (now exported into the US and becoming super-popular here as well) dressing and making yourself up into your favorite popular culture character. So, even though the horrific, thrill-seeking aspect of Halloween remains recognizable in Korean celebrations of it-- dressing up as traditional Korean "virgin" ghosts or zombies seem to be very popular--, it also provides young folks to essentially stage costumed parties. Not surprisingly, social media such as Instagram and Twitter have played an important role in boosting its popularity among South Koreans.
-- countesy: 단국대학신문
A fascinating, but also in a way predictable pattern, isn't it? English-learning, the US, plus commercialization of social rituals, Japan, plus the influence of social media, equal what we have today. But who am I to complain? Halloween is one of my favorite celebrations (along with Thanksgiving) of a year, and perhaps in the near future theatrical bookings of the new Korean horror films would all take place around October 31, rather than in the summer season, as they traditionally have been.