South Korea: Lunar New Year Celebrations Meet Technology

South Korea: Lunar New Year Celebrations Meet Technology
Photo by bady abbas on Unsplash

South Korea celebrates the new year twice. One is on the first day of the year, like in most other countries, and the other is on the first day of the lunar calendar, which is usually about 20 to 30 days later than the solar calendar we use.

Lunar New Year, also called Chinese New Year in some countries, is from January 22 to 23 this year in South Korea. While a range of celebrations takes place during the holiday season, from eating rice cake soup to playing traditional games, today we’ll look at some celebrations that adopted emerging technology to double the holiday spirit.

First, let’s talk about new year’s cards. Koreans exchange new year’s cards and messages via post or online messengers. This year, Korean start-up Designovel introduced a service that allows people to generate a one-of-a-kind card with the help of artificial intelligence. Users can choose a style from provided options and type in what they want to see on their card. Its AI tool then generates an image the user might like with a personal touch.

Calling each other to say hello is another popular ritual during the holiday. SK Telecom, a Korean telecommunication giant, launched a visual ring-back tone service for callers to watch on their phones while they wait for the receiver to pick up their calls.

A receiver can set one ring-back tone out of 69 options, each with a video or image message celebrating the lunar new year. They can upload their personal files to appear instead if they want. Exchanging money or gifts and wishing good luck to each other is a massive part of the celebration.

Sunny Um is a Seoul-based journalist working with 4i Magazine. She writes and talks about policies, business updates, and social issues around the Korean tech industry. She is best known for in-depth explanations of local issues for readers who need a better understanding of the Korean context. Sunny’s works appeared in prominent Korean news outlets, such as the Korea Times and Wired Korea. She currently makes regular writing contributions to newsrooms worldwide, such as Maritime Fairtrade, a non-profit media organization based in Singapore. She also works as a content strategist at 1021 Creative. A person who holds a Master’s degree in Political Economy from King’s College London, she loves to follow up on news of Korean politics and economy when she’s not writing.