International Women’s Day in South Korea

Is International Women’s Day celebrated in South Korea?

During the early days of the Republic of Korea, International Women’s Day originated from the socialist movement, making it a commemorative day with socialist inclinations. Therefore, it was only observed publicly by a small number of individuals, rather than through large-scale events. Choi Eun-hee, even when she was kidnapped and taken to North Korea, was astonished to witness the grand celebration of International Women’s Day, despite her own gender, prompting her to question the significance of the day. On that day, Kang Hae-ryong, a North Korean official, used the pretext of commemorating International Women’s Day to force alcohol on Choi Eun Hee.

It wasn’t until 1985 that some progress was made, allowing March 8th to be publicly celebrated as International Women’s Day. From 1984 onwards, around March 8th each year, the Korean Women Workers’ Association and the National Women’s Labor Union have been organizing the Korean Women’s Conference, featuring commemorative events, women’s festivals, street marches, women’s cultural festivals, and more. These events aim to address the realities and demands of women workers, foster public solidarity regarding the plight of marginalized women workers, and tackle various issues related to women, such as employment stability and unemployment.

Nowadays, although not an official holiday, International Women’s Day is a statutory holiday, serving as a day to raise awareness of the realities faced by Korean women and to share concerns. Domestic websites such as Daum and Naver Headline commemorate this date by changing the design of its search bar.