Korean Superstitions That Just May Save Your Life

Stepping on cracks, walking under ladders, black cats crossing your path, a rabbit’s foot, and crossing your fingers—all superstitions that are said to affect your levels of luck. Whether or not you believe in luck, you’re bound to come across superstitions in your life to some degree.

And as a savvy and socially aware person, it’s always good to be conscious of them so you don’t commit any social faux pas and send someone on a bad luck tailspin!

With all the superstitions going around, Korea didn’t want to lose out on the fun. Koreans have their own set of bad and good luck actions, so we’ve collected the top 10 for your reading enjoyment.

Bad luck superstitions are in red and good luck superstitions in blue, so plan accordingly when you put these into action!

We know many of you want to learn Korean fast, so we’ll give you the key phrases for each superstition. For example, the Korean word for “superstition” is “미신”.

Want a quick association to learn Korean fast? Try thinking of “me” + “shin”. Nobody likes to get kicked in “미” + “신” (“me shin” sounds like “my shin”), so best to avoid offending anyone with 미신!

If you don’t know how to read Hangeul (Korean alphabet) yet, you can download a free guide here, which teaches you how to read Korean in about one hour.

Without further ado, let’s meet our team of superstitions!


1. Evil Sprit Moving Days

It’s moving day, so make sure you have everything packed. Favorite athletic shoes? Check. Giant coffee mug from trip to India? Check. Evil spirits? Best to leave those behind!

Koreans believe that if you move on certain days of the month, that evil spirits will follow you to your new place. According to folklore, the ghosts will be prevented from heading into the heavens if you block them with your moving activities on certain days.

Luckily, there is a calendar that will help you choose the right dates to keep your new pad spirit-free. Follow this calendar and stay away from any day that has “손없는날”written on it.


2. Fan Death

Since the electric fan has contributed to a number of deaths in Korea, Koreans have adopted the “Fan Death” superstition.

Not all fan situations are bad though. If you have some windows or doors open, you’re good to go. However, if you close the windows and doors in a room with a fan on, you’re asking for trouble.

A popular belief for the cause of death is that the fan creates moving air around your face. That moving air makes it hard to breath, so people suffocate.

It’s such a widespread believe in Korea that many consider the fan timer to be lifesaving function. Nobody wants “선풍기사망설” (fan death) written on their tombstone, so you may want to look at your fan settings.

Learn Korean fast so you know where the shutoff timer is.


3. Whistling at Night

Whistle while you work? Sure, that shows you’re a happy person. Whistling at night? It’s probably not a great idea.

Even if you ARE happy, it’s probably best to avoid doing this 미신 (superstition). Ghosts and snakes love a good whistle tune at night, so Koreans believe it’s best not to summon that twosome.

To stay free of 귀신 (ghosts) and 백 (snakes), schedule the whistling sessions after sunrise!


4. Number Four 

There is a saying that goes “Two is company, three is a crowd”. If that’s the case, what can we say about four?

How about death! Koreans believe that the number four is bad luck, since it also means “death”. As a result, the fourth floor of a building is often replaced with an “F”.

Apartments with multiple “4s” in them have a lower value since they are seen as bad luck. To look on the bright side, the number four can help you learn Korean fast.

Since it has two meanings, you can have two different associations. 사 means “four”, and it also means “death”.

5. Beautiful Food, Beautiful Kids 

Some superstitious Koreans believe that the appearance of your food contributes to the appearance of your kids.

Let’s take a gimbab for example. If you look at a sliced gimbab, the middle pieces are more organized look more appealing than ends.

Therefore, if a mother eats the middle pieces while she is pregnant, she has fortune on her side to bring her some good-looking offspring.

If Mom loves to chow down on the gimbab ends, then she’s less likely to have to worry about her children becoming celebrities.


6. Shoes as Gifts 

Aside from the fact that it’s hard to find someone’s correct size, giving shoes as gifts in South Korea is a no-no. It is believed by the superstitious that giving shoes will cause the receiver to run away.

This is especially bad to do with your significant other, unless you’re trying to find a subtle way to give a hint!

선물is the word for gift, 신발for shoes, which will get you up and running on your quest to learn Korean fast.


7. Shaking Legs 

Not only does it distract Grandma at the dinner table when you shake your legs, but it also brings bad luck your way!

In Korean culture, your legs symbolize wealth and prosperity. If you shake your legs, you’re shaking the wealth right out of you.


8. Red Ink Name

It’s bad luck to write names in red ink. The main reason is that the names of the deceased used to be written in red. Therefore, if you write someone’s name in red, you’re giving that person a death wish!

You’re safe with other words in red, but make sure the names stay in standard blue or black ink. If you’re current on the path to learn Korean fast, add in “빨간잉크” (red ink) to the vocab list and make sure you don’t use it to make your next party guest list!


9. Pigs Dreams

If you wake up from a dream and feel like you just got back from a trip through an animal farm, you may be in for some good luck!

This is because the pig symbolizes good luck, wealth, and fortune in Korean culture. If you believe in 미신(superstitions) and you wake up with pigs on your mind, you may have wealth, a promotion, or other good luck coming up in your future.

To learn Korean fast, toss in 꿈 (dream) and 돼지 (pig) into your flash card stack.


10. Eating Yeot

엿 (yeot) is Korean hard taffy that is made from glutinous rice. Because of its stickiness, the superstitious believe that it will cause good luck to stick to you.

This is true for the correct answers for exams as well, so students often eat it for exams to help them recall the correct answers.

What Korean superstitions have you heard of? We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment below!


Photo Credit: sanickels  

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