What do people do on April Fools’ Day in Korea?

april fools day korea

Here’s a poster for a promotion taken from the CGV cinema chain’s website. It explains that if you want to get a discount at the CGV cinema today – April 1st – then dress up in an army uniform and pay only 6,000 won, dress up as a ‘hero’ (perhaps just a cape is enough?) and pay 7,000 won, or wear a school uniform and pay only 7,000 won for your ticket. I think there’s a discount on the popcorn too. Yes, it’s April Fools’ Day today, but this promotion is no joke. (I don’t think so, anyway!) Personally, I think wearing a hero outfit would take the most guts and therefore should get the biggest discount though!

In Seoul, for me April 1st usually goes by just like any other day. There are no crazy stories in the newspaper to fall for, no pranks played on me at work. (thank goodness – I’m very grumpy when it comes to pranks) But perhaps I don’t notice anything special because I’m an adjumma. If I were a youngster in my 20s, I too would be out enjoying myself this Friday evening dressing up and getting discounts here and there, and not dressing down at home in my pyjamas writing about all the fun things I could be doing …

If you wear your school uniform to a pub (and show your ID that proves you are an adult) you can get a discount on drinks there too! One of my students (in her early 20s) mentioned to me that she was meeting her boyfriend this evening and that he had asked her to wear her school uniform (!) I raised my eyebrows when I heard this request but she explained that lots of young people dress like that today as they can get discounts when they go out.

So she had agreed to wear her school uniform (without enthusiasm it’s fair to say) But since it’s been a few years since she left school, the uniform is now a bit tight. She was too embarrassed to wear the uniform on the train and at the office. (It would probably be a bit inappropriate sitting at a reception desk in a school uniform and ankle socks). So she brought it with her and plans to get changed at the station when she goes out this evening.

When I was at school, the only pranks I can remember were some feeble attempts at scaring others involving plastic insects and reptiles, and possibly the odd stink bomb. These ‘pranks’ were carried out by lone mavericks. But here, school pranks seem a lot more planned and often involve the whole class’ participation.

My student told me that when she was at high school, on one April Fools’ Day when the teacher came into the class all the students were sitting in their places with their heads on their desks as if they were asleep. At first the teacher laughed (realising that it was April 1st). But then as time went by the teacher became more and more irate walking around the room trying to get the students to sit up and take part in the class! 30 MINUTES LATER the students finally sat up (and apologised, which is rather sweet) But 30 minutes is a LONG time. If I were the teacher I’d go mental! But that prank is pretty tame compared to things that go on in some schools. Take a look at some other Korean high school April Fools’ Day pranks.

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