Seollal 2016: Lunar New Year Korean Words

An important note on Jeju’s updated bus system and this blog post

From August 2017, Jeju Island implemented a new city and intercity bus system. It increased the number of buses in service, while simplifying the routes, fees and numbering system.

Consequently, the contents of this previously published blog post may have changed. We therefore would kindly request that you consult this page for new bus maps in English on,  and this page on our blog for a chart of the old and new bus route numbers.

If you read Korean, then the province’s official bus system website is a useful and up-to-date resource. We hope you’ll enjoy your travels on Jeju Island!


What is Seollal (설날)? It is the first day of the lunar calendar, which changes year by year on the Gregorian calendar. According to the zodiac, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey. Lunar New Year (Seollal) falls on February 8 this year. For Koreans, this means the Seollal holiday is from February 7 to 9 (since it is a 3-days event), which is extended to February 10 as a substitute day. It’s a busy and meaningful time of the year, where people travel home to celebrate with their families.

Let’s take a look at some of the traditions and phrases often used during this Seollal holiday.


The greetings for Seollal is “Saehae bok mani badeuseyo” (새해 복 많이 받으세요). This means “May you receive many blessings/goodluck in the new year.”

For Seollal, people often travel home from wherever they are to spend time with their family. If you plan to travel around this time period, make sure to book your tickets early.

The day before Seollal, people usually prepare for the holiday by cooking many different Korean traditional dishes.

One of the traditions of Seollal is performing charye (차레), a ritual where family members bow to their deceased relatives to show respect. In the morning, family members would dress up in hanbok (한복), the traditional Korean clothes, and set out food on the ritual table. Then they would perform charye, and eat together as a family. One of the main dishes is tteok-guk (떡국), a rice-cake soup that represents adding another year to your age when you eat it. Other dishes are jeon (전), a Korean pancake, galbijjim (갈비찜), braised short ribs, and japchae (잡채), a glass noodle dish. A lovely dessert drink is sihkye (식혜), a sweet drink made from rice and malted barley flour.

After eating, young family members will perform sebae (세배), where they bow to the elders in the family to wish them many blessings for the new year. The elders would give them sebaetdon (세뱃돈), new year money, to bless them. Unlike Chinese and Vietnamese culture, Koreans use white envelopes instead of red envelopes. Adults often buy presents for their parents and relatives, such as fruits or gift sets.

Family members would also gather together for activities. The most popular game is yutnori (윷놀이), a board game that involves throwing four wooden sticks. Other popular activities are jegi-chagi (제기차기), an outdoor game of kicking a shuttlecock, tuho (투호), a game that consists of throwing arrows into a jar, kite-flying, and Go-stop (고스톱), a Korean flower card game.

We hope you enjoyed this post on Seollal. Did we miss any important words? Comment below or talk to us on our Jeju Tourism Organization Facebook page.

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