|Pepero promotional display in Lotte Mart in November|
As I wrote about yesterday, November 11th is Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth countries. Korea also observes a special day on November 11th: Pepero Day!
Pepero is a Korean confection, made of a cookie stick covered in chocolate. There are a number of different flavours, but my favorite is definitely almond! On Pepero Day, couples exchange boxes of pepero in order to show their affection. Also, students will buy pepero for their teachers, and people often buy pepero for friends in their workplace.
Pepero is manufactured and sold by Lotte, a Korean company whose influence cannot be escaped in Seoul. Everywhere you look, you will find items and services carrying the Lotte name. Lotte Mart, Lotte Department Store, Lotte World (a huge indoor amusement park), apartment complexes known as Lotte Castle, hotels, insurance coverage, and even two baseball teams: the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, and the Lotte Giants in Busan. According to Lotte, Pepero Day was not started by them. Rather, they apparently noticed a spike in the sale of pepero on November 11th, after which they encouraged the holiday with special gift packaging and promotions of pepero during November. November 11th is considered Pepero Day because, apparently, the date "11/11" resembles four sticks of pepero.
Regardless of the origin or "legitimacy" of Pepero Day as a holiday, Korean couples and children have a lot of fun exchanging pepero and surprising friends and family with the treat. I, for one, enjoyed receiving pepero from many of my students, and I even bought a couple of boxes to bring to work and share with my co-workers. I wonder if something similar could be introduced to Canada? I personally think that pepero (and/or pocky) should have more of a presence in my home country. Perhaps Lotte could expand their operations even further?