How do North
Koreans celebrate

With classic Korean fairytales, of course

Halloween is the time for spooky stories, bewitching tales and myths. But have you ever wondered how North Korea celebrates Halloween?

As we've discussed in our previous blog about the Hamgyong Province Cloud Monster, the Juche Ideology, often translated as self-reliance, means that there is no mystical or paranormal phenomena in the country.

However, there are some traditional stories with eerie elements.

When children cry, there are certain phrases that locals use to scare the children into silence, such as: 'The old man is going to catch you' and 'The tiger is going to get you'.

In Korea, tigers are feared more than dragons because tigers are real creatures. 'The ghost is going to come out' and 'The dokkaebi is coming' are also popular phrases.

What is a dokkaebi?

A dokkaebi is a Korean mythical creature that is similar to a ghost or a goblin. In some ancient stories, the dokkaebi is treated just as a ghost, and it is often used interchangeably in Korean myths and legends.

But in terms of nature, ghosts and dokkaebi are quite different. Ghosts are usually referred to as the souls of dead people, while the dokkaebi are the mysterious spirits of nature, such as animals, plants, or non-human beings.

There is a dokkaebi story that is popular in North and South Korea.

Dokkaebi story:

Once upon a time, there was a wealthy house in Chungchon South Province. But the owners had passed away and it was left empty. Then one day, an old man and his young wife moved into the house. They cleaned, unpacked and fell asleep in their separate bedrooms. The wife could not sleep due to there being a disturbing sound in her room, so she went to her husband's room next door.

“Why do keep coming to my room?” he asked her.

"I can't sleep because there is a buzzing sound in my room," she replied.

His husband was curious about it, so he went to her room to figure out what was happening. But by now, the buzzing sound was ringing all over the house.

The husband relayed the scary experience to a nephew, who decided to try and spend a night in the haunted house. The nephew said the sound was likely coming from money that was buried by a rich man who used to live there. The owners had saved the money for so long that the coins had spirits of dokkaebi. The story has a happy ending: the couple buys land in Chungchon and become rich.

So there you have it! The traditional dokkaebi story that is popular in North and South Korea.

How do North Koreans Celebrate Halloween?

Halloween is traditionally celebrated differently all over the world, with the date holding different significance. However, as Western influence takes over it is becoming increasingly common to see the same standard Halloween celebrations in many countries all over the globe.

Generally speaking, Halloween conjures images of pumpkins, black cats, and ghosts. Popular activities on Halloween include carving pumpkins, going trick or treating, or holding a Halloween party.

As one of the few countries where Western influence is yet to become so strong, you won't see Halloween decorations as we know them in any North Korean supermarket any time soon. And North Koreans certainly don't partake in celebrations by going trick or treating.

BONUS: How do North Koreans Celebrate New Years?

If you're looking for a cool and interesting way to spend your Halloween, North Korea is not your best bet. However, if you're looking for a unique and guaranteed great-way-to-start-the-year way to spend your New Years - North Korea could be the answer.

Like Halloween, New Years is celebrated differently all over the world. But one thing that everywhere has in common is that it is a big celebration. And North Korea doesn't differ from this. In previous years, there have been massive firework displays and live concerts in the centre square. All of which you can enjoy with the local North Koreans on a New Year's Eve tour to North Korea - one of the most unique ways to enter the New Year that you certainly won't forget!

Click for more information on how North Koreans Celebrate Halloween.

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