Pepero or War Veteran?
Pepero or War Veteran?
  • Reporter Song Sung-chan
  • 승인 2018.11.29 11:04
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A picture of pepero-day poster
A picture of pepero-day poster


Korea is full of anniversaries named ‘~day’ to give meaning for specific dates. Such anniversaries are mainly created by companies as a method of advertisement. As a matter of fact, it is not wrong to say that such ‘day-marketing’ continues throughout the year. One of the most popular day-marketing is Pepero-day, Nov. 11. 
There are rumors regarding the origin of Pepero-day. Some say that Pepero-day started when middle-school girls in Yeongnam, Gyeongsang-do traded pepero among them as a meaning of “let’s become slim like pepero!” and became a symbol and loved over time. Others believe that a particular company spread the rumor to start Pepero-day.
Surprisingly, most people who celebrate Pepero-day are aware that the day is a ‘day-marketing’ campaign aimed to increase the pepero company’s profit. But they choose to ignore the marketing aspect of the day and continue to celebrate. That is how much Pepero-day has become a part of Korea’s culture. Pepero-day is no longer a day that pepero companies increase their profit, but a day that lovers express their love towards each other through pepero.
Although the majority of people celebrate Pepero-day, there are also those who criticize Pepero-day. One obvious reason is its marketing aspect. Critics claim that spending valuable money on pepero simply because a pepero company entices customers into trading pepero is unreasonable. However, there is a more serious criticism towards Pepero-day. Such criticism involves other anniversaries related to the date of Pepero-day. 
November 11 not only embodies Pepero-day, but stands for many other days. Nov. 11 is farmer’s day, considering that in Chinese, the characters of the number 11 combined, forms another Chinese character meaning soil. With the philosophy that “farmers live with soil and their friends go back to soil upon death,” Nov. 11 became farmer’s day in order to promote rice consumption and save farmers. 
Nov. 11 is also a day for people that are physically challenged. The number one represents start or beginning, and Nov. 11 has the greatest number of ones in its date. To encourage people with physical challenges overcome their difficulties, Nov. 11 became a symbol of hope for the physically challenged.
United Nation war veterans involved in the Korean War are also memorialized on Nov. 11, at 11:00 for one minute. This memorial event is called ‘Turn Toward Busan’ and is held at UN Memorial Park in Busan. ‘Turn Toward Busan’ is a memorial event started thanks to Vincent Courtney, a UN war veteran, who offered to hold the event at a UN war veteran cemetery (the only one in the world) in Busan. At 11:00 on UN war veterans’ day, a siren begins a moment of silence that citizens, UN war veterans, students, soldiers, and even Vincent Courtney participate in.
Along with Korea, the United States of America and 21 other nations that fought in the 6.25 war also hold UN war veteran ceremonies at that same time.
Pepero-day is not necessarily a terrible anniversary. It is a romantic event where lovers show their feelings towards each other. However, if the hope for the physically challenged and honoring the UN veterans are shadowed by ‘day-marketing,’ the Pepero-day campaign may be an inappropriate anniversary.