The Korea Herald


Holler for Seollal: Holiday traditions burden some

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : May 16, 2022 - 13:29

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* From waking up a dozing student to tidying up graves, online advertisements with unusual but real job descriptions offer a peek into the Korean society. The Korea Herald looks at some of these unusual ads. The following is the second installment. – Ed.

Korea’s two biggest -- and longest -- holidays are Seollal and Chuseok, around which the hyperlocal community app Karrot Market is bustling with cries for help. The website usually operates a separate page for part-time jobs targeted exclusively for these holidays.

“We’re seeking those who will make just jeon (Korean-style fritters which are a staple on the table of food offerings to ancestors) 10,000 won ($8.35) an hour on Jan. 30, 11:00~16:00,” read an ad posted prior to this year’s Seollal.

Another asked for a person who could help out with cutting the weeds on their ancestors’ graves prior to or during Chuseok, an act known as beolcho. 

(Illustration by Park Ji-young) (Illustration by Park Ji-young)

Holiday traditions are a matter many conservative Koreans take very seriously. They center around a traditional rite known as jesa held to honor ancestors of the preceding four generations of a family. Food offerings, to be prepared by women in the family supposedly with sincerity and respect, are the most important aspect of the ceremony, along with a visit to the graves.

The labor of preparing the food for jesa is often a major complaint of married women during these traditional holidays. Hence the ads seeking help.

Surveys show that an increasing number of people feel that jesa is irrelevant.

In the 2000 survey by the Korea Institution for Health and Social Affairs, only 7.3 percent said jesa was unnecessary. But a joint survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and Korea Women’s Development Institute conducted last year showed that 45.6 percent deemed it irrelevant.

By Yoon Min-sik