New Year’s in Korea – How we welcomed 2020


Back in Sweden, I always spent my New Year’s partying with my best friends either at clubs or at someone’s home. We watched fireworks going off crazy while counting down the last 10 seconds of the year in a shout. People would get drunk and talk about their new years’ resolution. Does this sound familiar? Do you do the same in your country? Well, this year we celebrated in a different way!

Is New Years a Big Holiday in Korea?

No, the New Year is not as big as you would think. This is because they already celebrate the Lunar New year which they call 설날 (Seollal). It is based on the Korean Lunar calender. I would say that this is the biggest or most important traditional Korean holiday, Chuseouk coming right after in second place. During Seollal, many Koreans go back to their hometown to visit their relatives, some perform ancestral rites, wear 한복 (hanbok) – traditional clothing, eat traditional (delicious!) food, and play folk games. Or some may decide to go on vacation together.

Then how do Koreans celebrate the New Year?

With their partner! (Usually) or with family, friends or at parties/clubs!

My 1st New Year’s experience in Korea

My first year in Korea we went to a famous event in Seoul. We celebrated New Year with friends, champagne and watched Seoul greet the new year by ringing the bell of Bosingak Belfry at midnight. I got to be honest here, it was cold, crowded and not really that fun. So right after we went to a club and partied away! Read more about my exchange student life here

My 2nd New Year’s in Korea

I didn’t plan anything at all so I spontaneously called up my classmates at the time and told them to meet up at a 술집 “Sul Jib” (Korean bar/pub that serves food) to just have fun and celebrate New year with rice wine! And I’m pretty sure I started a countdown cause I heard everyone shout together at the end so that felt pretty good!

How we celebrated New Year’s in Korea

New Year’s in Korea is often spent with boyfriends/girlfriends. Young Koreans find a good spot to see the first sunrise of the year and enjoy a romantic date. Maybe you have seen this in Kdramas before? So that is exactly what we did this year! It was tiring to stay up almost the whole night so thankfully we didn’t have to plan anything! All thanks to this package tour from KoreaTravelEasy! Easy to book Korean tours, concert tickets or even sim cards, etc!

Haslla Art World – View
The first sight I saw at the parking lot of Haslla Art world! WOW
Me – Waiting for the sun to rise while holding a hot pack cause it was quite cold

KTX Express Train to Gangneung!

From Seoul Station to Gangneung took only 2 hours with KTX! After arrival, we all got on a tour bus to Haslla Art World. I did not have any high expectations, so I just figured we would see a cool sea view, eat, see some fancy art and go back. However, I was pleasantly surprised!

The beginning of 2020 – seeing the Sunrise

This place was breathtaking! Not only have I never been up all night to see the sunrise, but I’ve also never been to such a cool “land art” place. So land art basically means to either use nature to make art or place art outside so you are surrounded by it instead of it being only accessible indoors at exhibitions and museums. They also have a museum placed there, designing it to be more open, for example having glass walls in order to see the east sea. (Stunning!!)

Sunrise at this artsy mountain top – At Haslla Art World

Haslla Art Museum

Haslla Art World is a place where nature, people, and art interact. It’s a unique art park located on the cliff by the east sea. The view of the East Sea is spectacular and with all the silly and cool sculptures makes it a fun place for photographers. Inside the Haslla Art Museum, you can discover many types of fun art as well as a whole Pinocchio Museum! With a bunch of puppets that move when you stand in front of them.

Open Museum
Pretty Art as well as Photo spots
Pinocchio Museum! See more in my Vlog

We made a wish in a bottle!

This was a nice cute activity. We each decorated a small bottle and left our new year wishes inside. They told us that we could take it home or donate it for their future art display. We decided to leave them there. But we did take home two nice postcards of Haslla Art World, we both wrote a message to ourselves on them for a memory to keep.

2020 wishes in a bottle

Korean New Year’s Food – Rice Cake Soup Tteokguk

This tour package included breakfast! After seeing the sunrise we went inside the art museum and ate traditional Rice cake soup. It has a mild taste and includes rice cakes, in this case, some meat dumplings, shredded eggs, and seaweed. My Korean family and friends always tell me “Now I’ve become older, I feel older.” Because eating Rice cake soup in Korea on New years actually means getting one year older. You read that right.

What is the Korean age?

Korea has its own way of counting people’s age. On the day you are born you don’t start your life at 0, you actually count as a 1-year-old. Then after that, everybody gets one year older on January 1st, every year! They still celebrate their birthday (they call it “my international age”) however everybody in Korea officially gains a year of their age on the same day. So if you are turning 19 years old this year, you can start drinking in Korea even before your actual birthday because you are already 20 years old in “Korean age”! And 20 is the legal drinking age in Korea (19 years old in international age). Complicated? Indeed. It took me a while to get used to it.

Watch My Vlog to see more!

How to book this kind of tour?

Check out or follow them on Facebook and Instagram to get updates on the latest tours, concert tickets, activities and many other things for your trip to Korea! It’s easy to book from them and they sometimes offer some killer deals! Look around their website for some inspiration towards your future trip to Korea.

This was a special New Year’s in Korea! We will cherish this memory forever and I wish for everyone to be healthy and complete their goals for 2020!