August 15th marks an important public holiday for South Korea. On this day in 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies and the Korean Peninsula gained its independence from 35 years of Japanese colonial rule. Three years later, independent Korean governments were established in the North and South.
In South Korea, the holiday is known as Gwangbokjeol, which translates to “the day the light returned.” To commemorate the independence of Korea and the establishment of the first South Korean government, many festivals, parades, and celebrations occur on this day. South Korea’s national flag, Taegeukgi, will often line the streets to honor heroes and activists who fought for freedom. People are also encouraged to display the nation’s flag outside their homes.
Most schools, businesses, and government offices are closed on Liberation Day, but public museums, restaurants, and hotels will stay open. The official ceremony, in which the president will appear, occurs annually at the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan.