Pepero Day Means Holiday Stress for Couples, Coworkers

November 11th, the most parallel day of the year, brings towering displays of cookie Pepero hearts in convenience stores, Pepero exchanges between sweethearts, and the choice between buying new white chocolate or melon flavored Pepero for Lotte Confectionery’s favorite holiday, Pepero Day. However, the day also brings anxiety, as couples and offices debate whether it is a real holiday, meaning that not giving a gift would be rude, or if it is a fake holiday, safe to ignore.

Netizens seemed to fall firmly into the “Pepero Hater” group, although the fact that Lotte does 50% of all annual Pepero sales between September and November shows that there are a large number of consumers who still shell out for the cookie sticks.

Story from Hankyoreh:

Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t. Why Must There be Pepero Day!

korea-pepero day-chocolate-3

This year, twenty-nine-year-old junior office employee, Miss Kim, gets on edge just thinking about Pepero Day. Last year, November 11th began like any other day. After commuting to work she saw another team in her company handing out high-end hand-made chocolate snacks sold at department stores. “But wait!” Miss Kim was in for another shock as she walked through the hallway as she left for the day. “There was talk of the ‘office life lacking consideration’ and ‘the general lack of appreciation towards us’. Usually I didn’t care much for such snacks and since I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time I never thought of Pepero Day.

This year, even though Miss Kim vowed to rightfully give out the snacks on November 11, she’s struggling with possible misunderstanding related to the gift giving. Her peers last year who gave out the chocolates didn’t just receive praise for doing so, they also caught flack for “sucking up” and “playing office politics” too much.

Mr. Lee, in his late thirties and the most senior-ranking department head in his company, also starts to worry around Pepero day. Having been the first among his peers to be promoted, he feels that he still has to prove himself to his subordinates. Feeling as if he’s been falling behind in competing with his predecessors, Mr. Lee often feels worried come the morning of November 11th. “I am anxious about what will happen on Pepero Day if my employees receive gifts from the other departments heads and I have nothing for them.”

Valentine’s Day, White Day, Pepero Day and other so-called “anniversaries” mean serious stress for office workers. Outside of one’s work abilities, human relations are a factor in career success within Korea. Even with a manufactured holiday like Pepero Day, it is difficult to ignore the social obligations. According to a report published in March of 2012 by Embrain EZ-Survey, among 566 office workers, 8 out of 10 reported receiving gifts from co-workers on any of the various “days” celebrated (Valentine’s Day, White Day, Pepero Day). Among the reasons for receiving gifts, 48.9% claimed it was due to “a special occasion”, while 31.2% said they received gifts out of “appreciation for their contributions”.

Geumjoo Kwak, a professor of psychology at Seoul National University, says, “In this relationship-centered culture that has arisen in Korea, things like networking, promotions, and thoughts of one’s own gains and connections can easily trigger stress. These kinds of celebrated non-business-related “anniversaries” can cause excessive competition and shatter cooperation among office teams. Some even suffer depression and loss of self-esteem due to perceived failure on these days.”

Comments from Naver::

roly:

I get a little sneaking stress on Pepero Day. Lotte’s products exploit the 11th of November.

repa:

I’m suddenly curious, do Lotte employees also exchange Pepero? ke ke

Share some love on Pepero Day

Share some love on Pepero Day

didt:

Farmer’s Day….(In Korea, November 11th is also a day to recognize farmers)

adob:

I guess I just don’t give a shit about it.

shs1:

If they make you feel bad or awkward with this then they themselves are not friends nor colleagues.

kes2:

Honestly, we just need to ditch it. Wasting too much money. Staggering prices. It’s nothing but over-priced stuff.

cryp:

I’m asking why this damn day was even created…?

kyky:

If everyone else does it and I’m the only one who doesn’t, then I regret it. And if someone else gives me one after taking the time and effort of wrapping it nicely, then I really feel terrible. Ah…why on earth does it have to be on Monday? Should be on the weekend.

Peperos don't like to be single on 11/11

Peperos don’t like to be single on 11/11

cdc0:

Let’s dump this annoying, over-commercialized money-trap Pepero Day and move towards recognizing it as Farmer’s Day.

dear:

Students are just the same. Kids empty their allowances on it, give and receive it… then it’s only the businesses that benefit… why can’t this kind of day disappear. A day to meaninglessly waste one’s money. haha.

zin8:

Don’t play into the tricks of the snack food industry.

2mh0:

November 11th, Stick-of-Rice Cake Day ~ Tons of beautifully-packaged boxes of colorful rice cake sticks. Don’t fill Lotte’s belly.

2030:

No money to buy Pepero and no desire to. It’s just Lotte’s sly little party is all it is.

dsna:

Since the year before last, my folks and I use the money we would have spent on Pepero buying samgyeopsal instead. Couldn’t be better!

miss:

I’ll just buy some Saewookkang (a shrimp-flavored snack) from a noraebang and give four pieces to someone.

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  • Brett

    Should just call it “Lotte day” and get over with it.

    What a ridiculous “holiday”.

  • chucky3176

    Those models look like Russians from the Lotte World.

    I haven’t been able to decide whether Lotte is a Japanese or a Korean company.
    Headquartered both in Japan and Korea, owned by an ethnic Korean from Japan. I guess it’s one of those multinational companies that operate without borders.

    • Mighty曹

      It’ll be amusing to see both boycotting Lotte.

    • harvz

      I get the impression that Shin Kyukho is, for all intents and purposes, a Japanese person who used Korean ethnicity to establish a successful business in Korea.

  • Mighty曹

    Those two dudes look like they’ll be sharing more than just a Pepero.

    • harvz

      Sharing a bigger peppero stick in a motel on the other side of town.

      • Mighty曹

        Oh no! That visual!

  • Another excuse for Korean dudes to be cute to each other

  • commander

    I think that various days that have mushroomed after Valentine’s Day are not a big problem.

    The real problem is that personnel evaluations hinge on the way subordinates strike up relationahip with their bossess, with superiors’ whim or abritrary assessment determining employees’ corporate career paths.

    Having said that, no one would deny the importance of strong, smoothing ties with a boss at work.

    The problem occurs when employees of average abilities compete with each other to curry favor with their bosses by giving oversized gift to the boss for career advancememt.

    But what keeps in mind is that incompetence is not offset by plush presents to a sensible boss whose promotion depends on support of able underlings.

    The bottome line is the relationship you have with your boss in normal times.

    If it’s robust, no gifts on various commencially-driven days don’t cause anxiety for you. Otherwise, those days come as a mental, financial infliction to your corporate life.

    That’s the way how things are going.

  • Boris

    In China, they have a celebration on the same day called “Single’s Day”. Difference is people end up shopping for themselves because there tends to discounts online, sometimes up to 50%.

    “Holidays” such as Pepero Day and Valentines days are shams. If you really care for someone, you can show it the other 364-5 days of the year. Not just one day. It is why I find things like mother’s day and father’s day a waste.

  • Ryan Kim

    lol Korean people. Nothing better to commemorate?

  • That’s marvelous

    Pepero = Pocky (?)

    • chucky3176

      No. But it’s a similar product. Peppero is by Lotte, a Korean/Japanese hybrid company with nationality a big question mark in my mind. And Pocky is by Glico, a pure Japanese company. Glico is the first company with the product in 1969, and Lotte copied the product in 1983. Pocky by Glico, is also actually on sale in Korea. So there are actually three products, Japanese Pocky by Glico, Korean Pocky by Glico, and Korean Peppero by Lotte. I’ve seen and tasted both products and I noticed these are the differences.

      Japanese/Korean Pocky is longer in length than the Korean Peppero.
      Pocky has a bit more milk chocolate taste, while the Peppero leans a bit more towards dark chocolate taste, which makes it less sweeter than the Pocky. In terms of packaging, they also look similar. But the Korean Peppero has on the back of the box, a heart shaped empty white space. This is where you write the name of the person you want to give the box to, and write a little nice note on Peppero day.

      • JohnQPublic

        You wouldn’t happen to be a youtube vlogger would you?

      • A Pinky Promise

        Pepero Day (or Pocky Day), however, started in Korea first.

    • Edward Dela Peña

      Pocky has just entered the Korean market!

  • Joel Sparks

    “Outside of one’s work abilities, human relations are a factor in career success within Korea.” And… everywhere else in the world. But, in many other places, people don’t give two shits whether or not you brought the socially correct gift on the socially correct day the other 364 days of the year.

  • tido

    its just a bloody dam day to have fun, if everything was practically and efficient it would be a pretty boring world.

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