I know–purple is not a color that immediately comes to mind when thinking about Korea. However, when Mimsie of Seoul Searching invited me to participate in the Colors of Korea collaborative blogging project to celebrate the beauty of Korea’s culture, destinations and food, the colors red, blue, white and green were already taken. So now it’s time to prove how the color purple does not just apply to Alice Walker, but these vibrant hues appear throughout the Korean peninsula as well. Coincidentally, I’m wearing a purple sweatshirt as I write this.


1. The baby octopus-selling ajumma at the Jindo sea parting festival


Ajumma, middle-aged Korean women, love the color purple. On the mountains, they are frequently decked out in purple hiking gear, and it’s not rare to see them with purple-tinted hair, the result of using cheap hair dye. However, this badass lady went above and beyond. Her fresh style of vibrant cheetah-print pants, an obnoxiously patterned t-shirt, and lavender-tinted lipstick, made me wish I could buy live octopus from her on a regular basis.


2. Jeju Island’s Loveland



Students from Seoul’s Hongik University created these elegant sculptures for Loveland, a sculpture park originally intended to teach newlyweds about the naughty sides of life. Each sculpture incorporates a range of pastels, including lavender, sea green and bubble gum pink, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a purple, bedazzled clitoris?


3. Violet flora 


These vibrant flowers highlighted the Buddha’s birthday celebrations at Geumgang University, the Buddhist university where I’m currently studying Korean.

I spotted these wild flowers while hiking Jirisan, the tallest mountain on Korea’s mainland.


4. Bokbunja, black raspberries



In Korean, the word bokbunja literally means, “a force so strong that it would knock a urinal over.” Last year, I attended the Bokbunja Festival, celebrating the Jeolla province’s indigenous black raspberries. I had a little too much fun picking the berries and sampling all the different types of wine.


5. Couple outfits


Many Korean couples show off their relationship status by wearing matching outfits in public. Besides shirts, I’ve seen matching pants, sneakers, backpacks, key chains and hats. It’s also a great way to tease elementary students if a girl and boy (or even a boy and boy or girl and girl) happen to be wearing the same shirt on the same day. Which leads me to…


6. Seoul’s Korean Queer Cultural Festival


Celebrating Gay Pride is relatively new in Korea, but as the festival continues to grow each year, more and more floats are decked out in purple.


7. Ddeok, Rice Cakes



Rice cakes are, hands down, my favorite snack in Korea. When I first arrived in Korea, I could eat an entire pack in one sitting. (I could still probably do that, but nowadays I try to refrain.) Besides the variety of colors, rice cakes are also comprised of many different flavors and textures. The rice cakes in the first photo are called seongpyun, and they are specifically made for Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving. The ones in the second photo are filled with red bean and were served at a Buddhist temple’s tea ceremony on a farmstay.


8. Sunsets


Although this isn’t the greatest photo, I nostalgically remember sitting on the roof of my old apartment in Seoul and photographing the sunset on this summer night.


Also, I shot this one on Seonyudo, an island off the coast of North Jeolla province.


Have I convinced you that purple can easily be a “Color of Korea”? What colors remind you of Korea?


Check out more Colors of Korea from these fantastic bloggers:

RED — Jace, Lost in the ROK

ORANGE — Mimsie, Seoul Searching

PINK — Madeline, Head High Heart Strong

YELLOW — Ken, Seoul State of Mind

GREEN — Johanne, JohanneMiller.com

BLUE — Brent, Kimchibytes

WHITE — Bora “June”, Evangeline Story


-Text and photography by Sarah Shaw @ www.mappingwords.com. All rights reserved.