6 Facts About North Korean Weddings

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

In a weekly NK News column, a North Korean defector recently answered a reader’s question about the traditions of North Korean weddings. Here are five things we’ve learned about tying the knot in the hermit kingdom.

1. Here comes the bride dressed in hanbok

wedding-1(Photo via Koryo Group)

While many South Koreans follow the Western wedding dress code of white gowns and tuxes, North Korean weddings are similar to the ceremonies you see on historical Korean dramas. Brides wear hanboks, or traditional Korean garb. Some hanboks are white with colorful embroidered flowers, while others are a combination of bright pink, red and yellow.

2. Live chickens on the altar

Hochzeit_Chicken(Photo courtesy of Asien-Zuhouse)

Traditional Korean wedding ceremonies require a live hen and rooster wrapped in red and blue cloths to be set on a ceremonial table. Although most South Koreans now hold Western-style weddings, North Koreans still follow this old tradition. During the ceremony, guests place flowers and dates into the the hen’s beak. Meanwhile, the rooster’s beak gets stuffed with red chili.


3. You can’t walk down the aisle on Feb. 16 and April 15

800px-Mansudae_Grand_Monument_08(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Most North Koreans choose to wed on weekends, national holidays or after-work hours. However, couples are forbidden from getting married on the birthdays of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, which are on April 15 and Feb. 16, respectively.


4. North Korean elites go big on their weddings

An average North Korean wedding is usually a small and utilitarian event that’s held at the bride’s home, but North Korean elites tend to throw weddings in hotel ballrooms or VIP lounges. “The more, the merrier” is the golden rule for these fancy weddings since the number of guests represents the couple’s social standing. Distinguished guests often give grooms a watch as a wedding gift.


5. Bouquets for Kim Il-sung

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 4.48.42 PM

North Korean bridesmaids don’t have to fight when it comes to catching the bouquet. After the ceremony, the bride and groom visit the statue of Kim Il-sung to bestow it flowers. Many couples also take their wedding photos at the monument out of a sense of obligation.


6. No honeymoons

jeju island(Photo via Beauty Scenery)

Most South Korean and American couples travel abroad after their wedding, but there is no such thing as a honeymoon in North Korea. Newlyweds in the isolated country are expected to return to work the day after their wedding.

See Also


North Korean Couples Mark Engagement with Mobile Phones

South Korean Brides and Grooms Hire Fake Wedding Guests


Featured image courtesy of Clay Gilliland/Flickr

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