Santa 할아버지 (Haraboji)

With the Christmas season seeming to have started before Halloween this year, it’s hard to imagine the holiday season not being a big deal. But it’s not nearly as big a deal in the Republic of Korea as it is in the United States.

But South Korea does have its own Santa Claus. He’s called Santa
할아버지, which translated is Grandfather Santa. Might be dressed like a Western Santa in a red suit, or you might see him in a blue suit. A couple of years ago we found this figurine of Santa 할아버지 on eBay, and he’s become a party of holiday Santa display.

He’s wearing a traditional 갓 (gat), which is a tall hat worn by some men during the Joseun Dynasty. The 갓 protected the topknot hairstyle that men of status wore during this time. But Santa’s hair is hanging long down his back.

I haven’t been able to find a history of Santa 할아버지 and when he first appeared in South Korea. So if anyone knows the history of his figure, I’d love for you to share it.

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