The Korea Herald


[Korea Quiz] Korean superstitions

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : Feb. 14, 2024 - 14:38

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Just like any country, Korea has its own traditional beliefs and superstitions.

One such superstition warns against whistling at night, as it is believed to attract ghosts, spirits or snakes. This notion is often used to scare children from making noise at night.

Though the roots of this superstition remain unclear, it inspired Bang Young-woong’s novel, “Bun-rye's Story,” in which a man whistles to attract snakes.

Many Koreans feel uneasy at the thought of their names being written in red ink, as the color was used in the past on the names of the deceased in family registers.

There are several theories behind this, one of which involves a tale about Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The emperor sought to monopolize the color red, which symbolizes good luck, vitality and fortune in China, and prohibited anyone other than himself from having their name written in red. When this prohibition reached Korea, it transformed into a superstition that writing a name in red ink could lead to a person’s death.

The stone wall of Deoksugung, a historical palace in Seoul, is a must-visit spot in Seoul, but it has a superstition that discourages couples from going on dates there. It says couples who walk along the palace's outer stone wall will eventually break up.

The origin of this superstition is believed to be linked to the Seoul Family Court, which was once located near the road. Couples seeking a divorce had to pass Deoksugung on the way to the court.

In 1995, the court moved to Seocho-dong, and today the Seoul Museum of Art stands in its place.

A Chinese superstition says that "washing your hair on the first day of the new year will drive away good luck." But in Korea, New Year’s Day has traditionally been one of the busiest days for public bathhouses, as many choose to start the year with a proper cleanup.

Answer: d