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Korean Fortune Telling

August 14, 2014


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We were actually quite surprised when we started looking into this topic. We don’t have any personal experience with Korean fortune telling, so we asked Soo Zee and some friends about it, and the more they told us the more fascinating the topic seemed to us. The idea of guys reading your palm as a pickup line, of how families can oppose your relationship if your Sajus aren’t compatible, of how fortune tellers aren’t stereotypically weird-hippy looking, all of this was really fascinating to us. The idea of Shamans, which we didn’t talk about in our video, is also quite interesting:

Shamans, aka Moodang 무당

Shamans are not nearly as common as all of the things we mentioned in the video. They’re a lot more expensive, and aren’t approached for casual fortune telling. They’re more for serious issues, like a lost person you’d like to divine the location of, or a necessary exorcism of a relative. There aren’t Shaman shops around Seoul. You gotta go looking for them.

You also supposedly go to get a 부적 (BooJeok) from them, which is a paper that works kind of like an amulet. The Moodang writes on it with different patterns. And that…does something, for the price of 50,000 won to 300,000.

More interestingly, Soo Zee went to one before. We didn’t get far enough into the conversation to ask what for. We were more interested in her description of the man. Supposedly, a Moodang is someone who has been possessed by a god, and has been given powers as a result. The one that Soo Zee met didn’t know he was a Moodang, and just thought he was crazy. He tried to commit suicide a few times, and cut off the tips of his fingers. Also, Moodangs aren’t supposed to marry, because they have shorter lifespans.

Note how unsure I am about all of this. Soo Zee was telling us a lot, and we wrote down as much as we could before we felt like we had enough to go on. I’m sure one of you here knows a bit more about it. If so, please let us know in the comments. It’s fascinating. I hope you all find this as interesting as we do :D

So that’s it for this week’s TL;DR. Let us know what fortune telling is like where you’re from, and how it’s perceived. My mom (Simon here) was really into a lot of this when I was growing up, but I haven’t heard of her talk about it since. She never did Tarot, but she did read my palms, though! And she told me that you’d click on the subscribe button below…so do it!



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Korean Fortune Telling


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  1. My family is Syrian and, in general, that of stuff is looked down upon. I think it’s mostly because that kind of stuff people associate with black magic and in Islam black magic is a huuge no, it’s like the work of devils (also known as djinn). There are some small things though, like reading tea leaves and horoscopes, that are popular. Oh ALSO dream reading is a huge thing with many Syrians I know. There are people you go to to talk about your dreams and they tell you what they mean, it’s super interesting!

    6 years ago
  2. My family is from India, and I know there is a huge fortune-telling scene there. Tarot cards, palmistry, horoscopes, and numerology etc; you name it, they probably have it. When Hindu get married, especially if it is an arranged marriage, the parents usually go to a priest with couple’s birth times etc to confirm that the couple matches well. I’ve seen weddings get called off (one very recently, of a couple that was dating for years before this point) because the priest said that the couple getting married will bring bad fortune to one or both parties. It seems ridiculous to me, but some people really believe in this stuff.
    P.S – The cheesy guys offering to read the girls’ palms? They’re abundant in India.

    6 years ago
  3. hi! can you guys talk about dating or marriage prohibitions in Korean culture? I’ve heard you can’t marry your brother or sister’s in laws and if you do, something really really terrible like the death of a beloved would happen! is it true?!

    6 years ago
  4. In england there is a fortune telling scene but its mainly (in my experience) romany gypsies who do it and they mainly stick around seaside towns and at fairs and carnivals and stuff so there are a lot of people who think its fake, there are people who believe and three are people who just go and have it done for the hell of it to see what the outcome is and to see if it is legitimate or not becaise there are a lot of fake fortune tellers around

    6 years ago
  5. I’m not sure if I can really understand how people continue to believe these things that have no factual basis in reality. I realize there’s cultural brainwashing, plain ignorance, or desperation to have their unknowable questions answered. But still. If it’s just for fun, whatever, have at it. But this is 2014. Information fortune tellers gather is based on what? Cold reading? Just making things up? It’s an interesting topic to discuss though.

    As for the Shaman you described, isn’t he just mentally ill? I know South Korea doesn’t really acknowledge the existence of mental illness, which is its own huge issue. I don’t know if that’s why their suicide rate is the highest, but if I had to take a guess…

    6 years ago
    • Do you realise that humanity has only discovered less than 1% of all matter?
      Have you heard of dark matter? There’s so much that can’t be detected by us or seen. I mean we only can SEE the light spectrum. There’s just so much we DON’T know about the world, the meaning of life, but I won’t go further into that cause you’ll probably get all skeptical again. But essentially ghosts, spirits all exist but of course to humans we don’t see or hear a thing. Except those who are given the ability. You don’t find too many western shamans as essentially the culture itself limits ones ability to understand or grasp what is happening to them. (they’ll be labelled as schizophrenic or some other mental disease). Howver is asian countries shamanism has existed for soooooooooo long that it’s apart of their culture and thus more shamans/moodangs are asian. (Otherwise there are also many westerners who see ghosts but they’re unable to fathom why or for what reason – hence the makings of movies such as the sixth sense etc.)

      6 years ago
      • I agree, there IS so much we don’t know about the world. Which is why what we call the “supernatural” exists for what we haven’t yet explained through science. Even if we don’t currently have a better explanation for “ghosts” and “spirits”, that doesn’t mean they exist just because they fill the absence of knowledge. Actually though, phenomena such as “haunted houses” for example do have scientific explanations.

        6 years ago
        • DD

          In perspective of western science, yes you can say Shin-byung as a mental illness. Indeed, American psychologist Assosiation registered Shin-byung around 1980 at their diagnosis manual as a specific form of mental illness. If you would like to say Shin-byung as a mental illness, you can do. However, I would tell you that you will miss so many things by just defining it as mental illness. South Korea is not that ignorant or vulnerable place about mental illness. There ARE many psychologist and doctors in south korea who carefully treating this issue. Above all, simply medical treatment does not helpful for this issue; this is one of the well-known symptoms of Shin-byung and the reason that Shin-byung never controlled as mental illness until now. Maddness in korean direct actually different symptom. You can aware of that as well.

          When you are interpreting things from something old asian stuff to english, you will loose so many context at there. For instance, the word you are saying “supernatural” or “ghost” does not exactly fit for asian meaning of same thing due to differences of philosophical background. For instance, meaning of ghost귀신 and death죽음 is different in Buddhism, Ancient Confucianism, Neo-Confusianism, Shinism/Muism/Shinto, Hinduism from Christianism. Especially Moodang is more complex issue than usual since things are poured on its rituals. I would recommend you to be careful when talking about something very old one, whether it is asian or western stuff, but not fully discovered yet, in 2014.

          6 years ago
    • That’s a little judgmental of you. There are more reasons to believe in fortune telling than the three very negatively worded and snide reasons you listed. However, I’m not going to waste time on those. Instead, I’m going to point out the following things:

      1. Even if all they are doing is making observations based on a person’s appearance and other quickly seen things, that level of deduction is a pretty strong thing. There is something called micro-expressions and the ability to read those and interpret them is pretty cool.
      2. If it makes someone feel better and doesn’t hurt anyone, why be snide or negative about it? When it crosses in to danger, feel free, until then you just look mean-spirited.
      3. There is a possibility still that science can explain perceived ESP and other phenomenon. If there wasn’t, people wouldn’t be given grants to research them.
      4. In terms of astrological signs etc, it is actually just a collection of cultural observations based on huge data sets. Regardless of the name given, a lot of fortune telling is just psychological, sociological and anthropological observations worded in such a way as to apply to the individual and their future.

      6 years ago
      • Your points basically reiterate what I was trying to say, except you explained it better because I’m bad at explaining things. My point was supposed to be that, whatever the explanation is, none of this is supernatural. Also I did say that if it’s for fun, then have at it.

        6 years ago
        • I’m a University student. So I am able to use inter-library loans and get whatever book I want. When I say I read this book or that book, they are academic . I’m an English literature major. This fall actually I’m taking the literary criticism course. The model for that discipline are authors like Northrop Frye, and Harold Bloom, etc.. S. T. Joshi.. writers like Matt Cardin at http://www.teemingbrain.com blog.

          Canadian literary culture was mystical, until the modernist period. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederation_Poets#Evaluation . this is a great overview of what happened to Canadian literati . Some of the best writing of the Victorian and pre-wars period was Canadian. This is a great example of the Canadian style, the Modernists blasted these writers in criticism, dismissing them and then removing them from canonization. After the auto-pact with the U.S. , and publishing got controlled by American companies , this beautiful mystical poetry was erased effectively from Canadian history. The period we now know as modernism is currently rapidly on the wane, and authors like Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, and Algernon Blackwood (another Canadian) are now widely celebrated. Many of these other authors are now still obscure. I recommend reading Tantramar Revisited if anyone wanted a testimony of the power of earlier Canadian writing. It’s a poem on par with something like Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey.

          Heat by Archibald Lampman

          From plains that reel to southward, dim,
          The road runs by me white and bare;
          Up the steep hill it seems to swim
          Beyond, and melt into the glare.
          Upward half-way, or it may be
          Nearer the summit, slowly steals
          A hay-cart, moving dustily
          With idly clacking wheels.
          By his cart’s side the wagoner
          Is slouching slowly at his ease,
          Half-hidden in the windless blur
          Of white dust puffiing to his knees.
          This wagon on the height above,
          From sky to sky on either hand,
          Is the sole thing that seems to move
          In all the heat-held land.

          Beyond me in the fields the sun
          Soaks in the grass and hath his will;
          I count the marguerites one by one;
          Even the buttercups are still.
          On the brook yonder not a breath
          Disturbs the spider or the midge.
          The water-bugs draw close beneath
          The cool gloom of the bridge.

          Where the far elm-tree shadows flood
          Dark patches in the burning grass,
          The cows, each with her peaceful cud,
          Lie waiting for the heat to pass.
          From somewhere on the slope near by
          Into the pale depth of the noon
          A wandering thrush slides leisurely
          His thin revolving tune.

          In intervals of dreams I hear
          The cricket from the droughty ground;
          The grasshoppers spin into mine ear
          A small innumerable sound.
          I lift mine eyes sometimes to gaze:
          The burning sky-line blinds my sight:
          The woods far off are blue with haze:
          The hills are drenched in light.

          And yet to me not this or that
          Is always sharp or always sweet;
          In the sloped shadow of my hat
          I lean at rest, and drain the heat;
          Nay more, I think some blessèd power
          Hath brought me wandering idly here:
          In the full furnace of this hour
          My thoughts grow keen and clear.

          6 years ago
        • i mean the korean shaman wikipedia article. I’m not korean but I’ve yet to hear much else from other cultures that explain in such details how it is done. I’ve studied mediumship from korea, vietnam, japan (good luck!), thailand, korea is unusually provocatives, holds nothing back, explains in exquisite detail how it is all done. without doing bullshit sociological studies. most anthropologists don’t know how to get the right data into their books. korea is unusual for this way in which they publish such good information in such large amounts.

          6 years ago
        • the only other thing i should say is — you don’t want this happening to you. lol . stay away. its not for casual interest. I’m weird for getting into it . there’s currently a major crisis in the charismatic christian community to do with these experiences, its not for everyone, and then when they get involved with it they have the problem of evil, so they will tend to immediately want to get exorcisms. which is why the catholic church has hired so many. i’ve been active into occultism, off and on, i know how to initiate myself it is so easy if you do it the way it is done in Korea, the Self-Loss, you could feasibly do that with any transnatural presence. but you need a lineage. and noetic agreement. again i’ll reiterate, i could tell you – easily, where, how, who what, to do it. its for a peculiar person. its not a way to empower yourself.

          6 years ago
        • I had an experience very much like a kangshinmu shinbyeong. That is to say I initiated by calling the descent of a spirit through a known lineage, myself, kind of hard to explain but without the laying on of hands as in reiki . I became manic/insomniac and psychotic instaneously. its also known as a kundalini crisis. however, the way i did that was aptly described by Chongho Kim, releasing spooky shudders reversed polarity through lament or compassion. rudolf otto analyzes how this works, in his Idea of the Holy. i was hospitalized almost immediately. when I came out of the hospital, learned that my best friend had killed himself . so i fit all that profile. (just go on wikipedia, initiation through tragic death). how it actually all happened is hard to sort out. when i had got medicated (not anymore) anything i had been connected to left. it’s absolutely real what happens. i recommend looking up Sean Blackwell on youtube, and listening to his stories, order his videos oldest to newest, descending, so you can watch his first upload right away. if you wanted to blow your head open, the most notorious way to do this is to go to something like vipassana meditation. 10 days, bring a toothbrush, etc.. you will go nuts. i swear its real I’ve experienced it . it knocked the socks off me. i have also met people into reiki and i have spoken to people like that for many years.

          6 years ago
  6. hmmmm, interesting…
    From my experience the general public in Germany considers everyone who tells you your fortune is a quack and a phony. And the people who believe in it, like the ones who read and believe their horoscope, are considered to be that Professor Trelawney stereotype. Some people pour like hot water on special gemstones because of its ‘healing powers’ or what not. I think most people look down upon that whole esoterical scene because it just doesn’t make any sense from whatever angle you view it. There also was an infamous show on German TV some years ago (I don’t know if it’s still running) where people could ask about their future live on TV and the fortune tellers were really obviously making up shit as they go along, and it also cost a hand and a leg to call

    6 years ago
  7. Loved the video, Being from the south all this stuff is looked down on. I love it, I love the idea of the fates setting your path and the face stuff sounds super cool. I wish I could get in on that!

    6 years ago
  8. There is a town near me called Cassadaga, Florida. Its pretty known to be very spiritual and new age and is made up of just psychics and tarot readers and such.
    I went once for my friends birthday to get our readings. It was pretty accurate BUT I am skeptical because a lot of it just seemed like general observations. Like my best friend is very gothy and always has super amazing hair. The psychic said shes artistic and should do hair for a living.
    I had spoken on the phone in Chinese before the reading. She said I’m interested in the world and cultures and something like a flight attendant would be a good career for me.

    6 years ago
    • Yeah this is what a lot of “psychics” and the like do. There’s a particular term for it but I can’t remember. In an elective I took, Critical Thinking, we watched this video where a group of strangers were called in and had their “lives read”. At first, everyone really identified with the reading, giving little details of their lives that made a lot of sense now that they heard what the “psychic” had to say. In fact, every single person had gotten the exact same thing written for them. The statements were just so broad that it applied to everyone, and people tend to start associating things with themselves so it becomes “personalized” even when it’s not.

      While I’m not going to discount every person who claims to have some supernatural ability, I’m pretty skeptical because despite what we like to think, we’re all pretty gullible, especially if we’re told something we *want* to believe.

      6 years ago
  9. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA oh my gosh!!! oh my gosh!! OH~~~my gosh!!! i laughed SO much at the very end at Simon’s Harry Potter comment!!

    in my city, we have crazy gypsy ladies!! and they have their own little gypsy caravans!!

    6 years ago
  10. Well I’m from Romania, and in my country it’s actually a big thing. The biggest majority of gipsy comunity lives here and they are known for the power of fortune and magic. (Still i didn’t tried yet )

    First of all , the fortune telling. They are really popular with this , especially the tarot card reading. Palm reading too is popular between the teens , but they don’t actually go to a witch for this ,and only doing it between friends (I’m actually mad on palm reading, cause it’s said to me that i will marry only for the money, and this is the least thing i think when i meet someone).

    And now the witch, the one that performs the reading and even magic. Well our witches are not the ones that can talk to dead (as a medium) or watch in a crystall ball but are famous for thei power (they are the ladies with a scarf on thei heads , but not like in Harry Potter). A “real” witch will tell perfectly your future and even give you a way to make it better(as example if u need luck and success you will have to use the purple flame power, smt like wear purple clothes and other, and i remember a politician which start doing this for the elections).

    And now the last thing is magic. The witch can perform two types of magic : white magic and black magic. People come to them for magic, when they want to get rid of someone or make someone fall in love for them. There are stories of people that came to them and were asked for different things ( i heard a story about a woman that thought it was cursed, and went to a witch, there was confirmed about the curse and asked for the next meeting to bring a dove with her, the next time, she put the dove alive on the table, the witch start to say some words and at a certain moment the dove start to tremble and it died on the table without being touched)

    That’s all i know , all are rumors and not certain things. These are popular , and in our folk stories there allways was a woman that could perform some hidden sorceries, still people that go there lose a lot of money (the certain thing) and could be framed by them.

    6 years ago
  11. Here in Vancouver, it’s a bit hard to “look for” fortune tellers and such, but sometimes when you’re driving down a street, especially the downtown area, you’ll just come across these small shops with flickering neon lights. Psychics and fortune tellers here are looked down on, and considered a money waster. I have a hunch the cheesy stars and the neon lights decorating the exteriors of the shops have a big factor in the bad reputation of fortune tellers here.

    6 years ago
  12. So, once, a professional Saju-reader came to our house (my mother has absolute faith in Korean fortune-telling) and he told me that if I don’t marry the right guy, I will only ever have daughters. No sons. GASP
    While I am skeptical about these fortune-telling methods, I’m super interested in kwansang! Apparently, having a birthmark (a ‘jeom’, literally a dot) on your earlobe means that you’ll have good fortune. Some people actually have ‘jeoms’ put on (or removed from) their faces because of kwansang principles- just like having plastic surgery for the same reason, as you said.
    I also want to add that changing your name in Korean is incredibly common, and people actually pay…namers? Name makers? Name raters? (haha) to make new names for them or their children so that their saju will be better. I happen to be the only person in my immediate family who hasn’t had a name change. My non-Korean friends are absolutely baffled by the whole concept, but it does sort of make sense to me, yannoe? Especially since names often conjure up a certain image, even in other languages.

    6 years ago
    • I’m Chinese and my parents picked out my Chinese name, which means “cream-of-the-crop Jade” (sorry ’bout that weird translation but idk how to word it lol). It sort of is a good luck charm for the rest of your life. But we don’t really change our Chinese name, unless you get married lol but that’s only the surname.
      A lot of Chinese people also don’t really care for that, like my cousins xD.

      6 years ago
    • The part about, “if you don’t marry the right guy, you’ll only get daughters” does happen though. Just ask my mom, all daughters! It’s all my dad’s fault. XD

      The name thing is cool, I don’t find it weird since names do have lots of meanings, my own name means ‘protector of the small’ in Welsh (I’m part welsh, and that’s part of my personality) and your name sort of becomes you or shapes you too. They just want a better outcome for their kids/themselves. :D

      6 years ago
      • Aha! See? Then it’s just another broad statement that could apply to anyone. Must be yet another excuse for them to set you up with someone according to saju-compatibility. Clever.
        And it’s good to see that there are some people who get the name thing, too! I supposed it’s just that it’s really easy to officially change your name in Korea, and some people do it several times. It can definitely be overdone, which might come off as strange in other cultures.

        6 years ago
  13. Croatian love to red that astrology thing. Today really popular is calling people in the TV show. But Old people here like grandmas know all kind of stuff when it comes about curses and ghosts. I heard some stories that can give you chills :/
    But when it comes about tarot and palm reading at carnivals and festivals old gypsy lady will offer you her “services” and if you say no she will start to yell spell(or something) and curse you. Sometimes it’s really scary.

    6 years ago
  14. I saw a dream last night that I was at the You are here cafe and I met the EYK crew and the Talk to me in Korean crew. I have a feeling I saw the FUTURE!! BAMBAMBAAAAAA!!

    6 years ago
  15. I do tarot readings. But I don’t have a single headscarf nor do I own a set of beads. :P The fortunetelling scene here in Halifax is pretty low-key, but very well established. Lots and lots of mediums and other New Age-y types in the area, and people pretty much shrug and accept it when a friend says that they’re going to see a psychic or card reader.

    Re: tarot – although anyone can learn the meanings of the cards, when it comes to looking at the cards and seeing the coherent story that’s being laid out for you – it takes a certain willingness to listen to your intuition and tell it like you see it, as opposed to what the ‘official meaning’ of the cards might be. But I look at tarot readings as a way to access someone’s subconscious mind, which is a mindset that seems to put people at ease more than if I told them something like “Your grandmother wants you to eat more soup. It’s good for you.” (An actual piece of advice once given to me during a really weird session with a local psychic.)

    In the end, I can tell you what the cards say…but it’s your free will that really determines what happens. For me, my end goal as a card reader is to help people figure out what path will best help them to get to where they want to be in life.


    6 years ago
    • I am also a reader, I do oracle card readings, psychometry (the practice of reading an object such as jewellery) and astrology. Like bluenail, the kind of readings I like doing are those which will help people find their right path, and overcome any obstacles. Those are far more rewarding for me than “will I pass my exams?”. Most of us do what we do because we want to help people, yet there is so much negativity directed towards us in the mainstream. It’s true that some psychics are better than others, but that’s true of any industry – be it psychologists, accountants etc. Its all about finding a good one.

      By the way, ‘fortune teller’ is actually a bit derogatory :) People normally refer to us as tarot readers, psychics or mediums, depending on what the practitioner actually does. I’m quite surprised and disappointed that the stereotype of readers as gypsies, hippies with beads etc is still out there – I usually do readings wearing street clothes and most others I know do too. I see it as being a skill like any other. Some people are good at art, others can write or play an instrument, and some have psychic ability. There’s no mystique about it.

      I think there is a thriving spiritual/new age scene in most English speaking countries, which involves everyday people, not gypsies in headscarves lol. You just probably aren’t aware of it if you are in the mainstream.

      6 years ago
    • Fellow Haligonian? Hi!

      To add: Fortune telling in Halifax isn’t something I hear people talk about a lot, I don’t hear a lot of people sitting around the break room at work talking about their horoscopes or talking about a card reading they had on the weekend. But I’ve known many people who have gone to see fortune tellers of one kind or another, or who have practiced one form or another of divination themselves. There’s also the fair at the Forum each year. I went one year when I was younger because it always looks like it’s pretty busy. It was a lot of fun.

      Halifax also has a comparatively large Wiccan/Pagan/New Age/Alternative Spirituality scene. That could factor into the well established but low key aspect of our fortune telling scene.

      6 years ago
  16. I am interest in face reading, but yeah it is very hard. I with friend try to read GD’s face… well i don’t know him personally, but i think his face say lots of true O.0
    I have to watch that movie O.O

    6 years ago
  17. i wanted to hubby is into it. we just didn’t have any luck getting to one. Some people are kinda weird out by it. i have a friend that does that type stuff.

    6 years ago
  18. I just recently came back from a trip to Japan. There’s a department store chain there called Loft, which seems to be trendy and for young adult shoppers. They had fortune telling booths on the top floor of the Loft near our hotel. I didn’t get my fortune read, but it seemed a little professional (different from the US standard). They had little cubicles and were dressed in business clothes. It was interesting, for sure.

    6 years ago
  19. Haven’t tried fortunetelling yet, even though i got vlose to once, but the fortunetellers cards had gotten drenched from a downpour we had the same day, and when I went back she had closed her tent. Bummer, my mom went to one when she was young, who told her specifically that she would get married, have kids, yet not be extremely happy all the time. This has ended becoming true, at least to her, because she has been married now for over 35 years, she had me and my brother (me from adoption), however we have one of the most unlucky family incidents, that sadly cannot be fixed, so as for the happiness… it somehow fit. She has said though that she would never trade any of us out, but she’s had it rough… poor mom.

    But, since I hate putting people in a depressing mood, here for something more interesting. Since you guys asked for fortunetelling, I had to think for a bit. Sweden, where I live, was VERY supersitious throughout most of history, and has a fauna of magical creatures that came from all those superstitions, magic was part of life for pretty much anyone. But, most of the magic was linked to how to prevent bad things from happening or how to make good things happen. But, Midsummer, which is the most magical day of the year, has an old tradition in which you’d pick flowers (flowers picked on this day were supposed to be more magical) and put them under your pillow. If you did, then you’d dream of the person you’d marry one day. I guess this counts as fortunetelling, but the one time I tried this I didn’t dream a thing. I guess I forgot the face before I woke up, but oh well… it was worth trying, midsummer only happens once a year.

    6 years ago
  20. wow, so many of these fortune telling methods you mentioned are also available in singapore. i guess it could most likely because they have chinese origins.

    if i’m not wrong, the chinese equivalent of saju is 八字, which literally means 8 characters. i’m not really into that but it has to do with 8 chinese characters that represents your birth year, month, day, hour and so on. most people in singapore no longer have their 8 characters checked unless they are getting married and their parents are very superstitious.

    palm reading and face reading are also available singapore, though men usually do not use palm reading to pick up girls, it may make them look really old since only elder people are into face and palm reading.

    there are also some other fortune telling methods i have seen before in singapore. the most common one is 求签 (chinese fortune sticks). basically people go to a temple, pray and take a cylindrical container that has a lot of sticks with numbers on it. they shake the container until a stick falls out. they then go look for a piece of paper that has a same number with a somewhat poetic message written on it. there will also be someone there to explain to you what that message means.

    bird fortune telling, where the fortune teller has a bird in a cage, with a bunch of cards or sticks on the desk. he would then let the bird out and it would pick a card or stick and return into the cage. the fortune teller will then proceed to explain what is written on the card that was picked by the bird.

    coin divination, 3 or more ancient chinese coins (usually replicas, since real ancient chinese coins are extremely rare now) are placed into a round container that has a slit (sometimes a tortoise shell). the person who wants his/her fortune read will have to shake the container and then drop the coins out from the slit. the fortune teller will take note of how the coins fall out (head or tails) and the order they fall out and explain the reading.

    all the methods i mentioned may not be absolutely accurate since i dont believe in fortune telling and never had mine read, these are just my observation from daily life and tv dramas :P

    6 years ago
    • Bummer, if hour of birth is necessary I will never have the chance for this, because there is no record of which hour I was born, only the day, month and year. And I’ve wanted to try something like this.

      6 years ago
  21. I’m in Thailand right now, and from what I can tell, they take their fortune telling pretty seriously here. I’ve talked to people who have gone to some sort of fortune teller when they were pregnant to find out the day and even the time that their child should be born, and then scheduled a c-section then so that their child could have the best future. The school I’m teaching at brought in people to read the kid’s fingerprints though (as long as the parents paid for their kid to have it done), but these kids as young as 2 were getting their fingerprints analyzed so they could tell the parents what their kid was going to be like. I’m pretty sure they said they do stuff with numbers and stars with your birthday too and can do some fortune telling with that too.

    6 years ago
  22. I’ve heard of physiognomy before, and apparently there’s this story in Chinese history where a political advisor named Fan Li worked under King Gou Jian, helping him a lot of wars, but later left his post because the king had a long neck and a beak shaped mouth, meaning the king was someone he could share troubles with but not happiness. It turned out to be true when the king killed everybody who had helped him in the past. I found this video a while back explaining some basic things about Chinese physiognomy. I don’t know how similar or different Chinese physiognomy is from Korean, but it’s interesting to learn about, I think.

    6 years ago
  23. I’m from the Balkans and fortune reading is one of the most common things you can find here. Usually,after drinking coffee (the one that Martina makes in a special pot that need to boil aka turkish coffee) there’s residue and you turn your cup over and after a while it forms patterns. Those patterns are read and can tell you future and present. This too is like either you know it or you’re don’t have any idea what the heck is going on. There’s also fortune telling for couples in a sense that you take some residue on your finger and then press it onto the outer edge of the cup while thinking of bf or gf. You can do with however many people you want and then the fortune teller who doesn’t know with who you imagined you being reads the patterns. I have a friend who does it and it’s scarily accurate.
    Other than that there usually a bad vibe associated with fortune telling because next to it is puting on hexes which is also common. That’s why for just born children its usual for parents to put a red string around their wrists. But that’s a whole other beast on its own.

    6 years ago
  24. I’m really into fortune telling and reading personality from diffrent sources like face. In Poland it’s realy not common. Not only because of church had banned it but also there are no people who are good. Usually fortune tellers are criminals. Horoscopes are in every newspaper but are fake. People in ezoteric tv are fake too. That’s really sad…
    I want to go Asia and learn new methods. c:

    6 years ago
  25. Omg this drives me crazy. Tarot is “tehr-oh” not “tehr-aht”.

    6 years ago
  26. I don’t really know how much people here believe in it or not, but my mum and her friends would go to shamans (but they’re called mediums I think?) after a loved one dies, or when they’re going through a hard time. My mum’s boss recently went to a tarot reader because she was involved in a personal and complicated court case – the lady told her some serious info (which she kept to herself of course) and in the end it turned out to be true, which completely changed everything.

    I think for a lot of mediums and tarot card readings you have to be at least 18 to get them done. I’ve never had it before, but I’m considering seeing that tarot card reader before I go to study abroad :3

    6 years ago
  27. Ok I admit it, I got trolled by Simon’s last comment ><

    6 years ago
  28. So I was raised very old school Mexican even though i’m Mexican american and the whole shaman kinda thing i do believe in. Maybe this story will be interesting. Ok so my mom was having severe leg pains that the regular doctors said was a pinched nerve. When my mom was in the hospital she actually got a recommendation of a guy that can help with that.

    We didnt have anything to lose so my mom, brother and I went looking for this person. We had vague instructions of the place and apparently a wrong phone number but we asked around the neighborhood and someone ended up at a hair shop. Apparently the guy sets bones. Not really like a chiropractor but close. It’s a little more complicated at least that he made it seem.

    Ok so my mom has been on dialysis for a long time and she has something on her left arm. That day my mom was wearing a baggy sweater. So you couldn’t see anything. We can in and we talked about what was wrong and then he told my mom to lie down. Then he said you’ve been sick for a long time what arm do I need to be careful with

    6 years ago
    • sorry i clicked post by accident. lol

      My mom and i were so surprised. We had never meet at all there was no way someone would notice she had something on her arm. After going back a couple of times we learned that he can read you. i’m not sure how to explain it, theres just things people with gifts can tell you. This was the first time i had ever experienced this. My mom on the other hand had people on the street come up and tell her things. Like when my parents broke up, 2 random people at different times told her that my dad had been snatched away from us. It’s all very complicated and a little crazy.

      Mexican culture, especially where my parents are from, very much believes in witchcraft and healers. I’ve slowly become a believer and thats saying a lot because i didn’t grow up like my parents.

      6 years ago
  29. Cure*

    6 years ago
  30. In my culture shamans is a big thing and a part of our history there are less shamans the more the years go by but my grandfather is actually a shaman. My grandfather says shamans can help look into the future and help find lost things. Shamans are very important for a very traditionally family such as if one of the family members are really sick and nothing can help cute them then they have to do a ceremony and sacrifice a animal many families choose a chicken or pig. Fortune telling is very popular in my culture because the elders want to know who the young woman or man is going to marry and if they are compatible, they also need to help how many children they are going to have or how long they are going to live.

    6 years ago
    • what culture are you from? My mother’s a moodang anf that’s exactly what she does! There’s a lot of negative stigma with shamans, such as working with the devil and whatnot but that’s completely untrue. Shamans are given these abilities for the greater good and to help people in need! :)

      6 years ago
  31. Where I live I know of two places that do fortune telling but it’s something that is looked down upon. Often times it is wrong or they are just trying to take your money. Palmistry is something a lot of high school kids learn for fun but not something used seriously.

    6 years ago
  32. As a person who likes horoscopes, this is an interesting topic! :D In Finland I’ve never seen anyone on the street selling fortunes but I know there’s phone numbers that you can call to ask about your future. I think most of them read tarot cards. Also you can find horoscopes in almost every (women’s) magazine.
    In Japan I could see those fortune tellers in their small booths or just sitting outside with chairs and a table. I wanted to try it but I was afraid I might not know what to do or understand the questions…

    6 years ago
  33. Meg

    In the US fortune telling is not really frowned down upon but most people don’t believe it. But they’ll got their fortune told (usually by tarot card or palm reading) and it will just be for fun, nothing serious. It’s more for entertainment. My High School had two fortune tellers come for our Project Graduation (which is a school funded party after graduation to try and keep us kids of the dangerous streets!) and a lot of people will get a fortune teller for a party.

    At the graduation party the fortune teller pretty much told me I would end up marrying this guy who was my mortal enemy at the time and I have refused to believe in them since. I WILL NOT MARRY YOU RYAN ERMEY!!! *Shakes fist*

    Anywho, like I said, fortune telling is more for fun and not to be taken seriously here. At least that’s been my experience.

    6 years ago
  34. One of Hugh’s cousins has had to break up with 2 girls so far because his mother went to the fortune teller and was told that the relationship is bad and they should never marry. One relationship was for 3 years and the other for 1 year… meanwhile his younger brother has got married while he still hasn’t because he hasn’t found the “right girl”. That’s the problem when you have a domineering mother that believes that stuff…

    6 years ago
  35. While in Malaysia, shaman is more popular to us! Some people willingly to pay no matter how much as it must be a good result. But so many liars in this worlds. As you may remember our most popular air-plain tragedy, MH370 there was (fake) shaman who make famous in the news. Even his video was gone so viral in our social media site, but not so good positive result/responds comes from it…

    6 years ago
  36. Hey, another method of fortune-telling that is unique to Turkey is Coffee Fortune Telling. See that Turkish Coffee is named after its special cooking technique, not because it grows in Turkey or something. The process is like, after you have you Turkish coffee in a special little cup (close to the size of a shot), there are remnants of the ground coffee in the cup and the fortune-teller will look at it and tell you what your future will be like. They either tell you about your immediate future like your exam results etc or about the other events that are gonna take place in far future. The places of the fortune tellers are variant, but they are mostly female.

    6 years ago
  37. I actually took a palm reading class, and the lines that Simon was pointing out are not supposed to signify children but actually how many serious relationships you have with people. Your soulmates. This could be anything from a romantic partner to a lifelong friend. Also depending on where they lay determines when you find them in your life. Supposedly there are little lines off of those soulmate lines that determine how many children you have. :)

    6 years ago
    • Maybe it’s different for Polish hands. That’s what my parents were dead set about. That’s the only one I remember :D

      6 years ago
    • I also know that there are different ways of interpreting the lines. I wonder if there is a separate Korean/ American interpretation.

      6 years ago
  38. Fortune telling isn’t really a big thing as far as I can tell, here in Norway. I know some people believe in spirits and stuff, like energies that remain after you die, and hauntings, but there’s not really much of fortune telling anywhere. Closest you’ll probably get are horoscopes.
    It’s kinda a stigma that if you try and get your fortune read, you are weak minded or a fool. Well, that’s what i’ve experienced atleast.
    Nobody really talks about it at all.

    6 years ago
    • A quote from R. W. Chambers, from The King In Yellow, is this Han ?

      Along the shore the cloud waves break,
      The twin suns sink behind the lake,
      The shadows lengthen
      In Carcosa.
      Strange is the night where black stars rise,
      And strange moons circle through the skies,
      But stranger still is
      Lost Carcosa.
      Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
      Where flap the tatters of the King,
      Must die unheard in
      Dim Carcosa.
      Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
      Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
      Shall dry and die in
      Lost Carcosa.

      It’s weird, its eerie, its lamenting. This is what Otto means I think by mysterium tremendum fascinoscum

      the interplay between dying light and shadow, a kind of melancholy or sadness, a dread, a sense that that the separation between the normal world and the enchanted world or the world of the dead is actually collapsing as you read.

      6 years ago
    • Sorry some more clarification about the naga, google image search for the Cambodian naga in particular, not sure about other dragon iconography, but anyway.. particularly notice the flaring naga from the corners of temples and such. Notice the flame or water or whatever it is coming off of the nose. now, look at the stav churches, and though they’re a bit more astract and made of wood, notice the carving of the tongue or flame flaring at the ends of the churches. ok so anyway. that’s interesting to me and it has nothing to do with Korean but you mentioned norway and i thought i’d mention that. norse paganism scandinavian paganism and etc.. it’s eastern. it’s not “european” , there’s a very deep indo-europeaness about it. it doesn’t really mean anything really but it depresses me a lot that a lot of people interested in pre-christian culture would ignore the shamanism from korea, even though in a lot of ways especially if you consider like the maypoles and clootie wells look that up to there are things in korean shamanism just like it.

      so anyway i’m interested in what S.Koreans think of english horror fiction, the really good stuff like Lovecraft and Arthur Machen, and how that might relate or bear similarity to Korean shamanism. For instance, Arthur Machen wrote a short story called the White People about alchemy, influenced by his interests in the hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, he described alchemy as a poison, very similar in concept to the dark purple flower in The Night Watchman’s Journal, new S.Korean drama.

      I guess that’s really want to know. I study S.Korean shamanism, and I find a lot of similarity not to “neo-shamanism” but to the gothic romanticism or satanic school of verse or weird supernatural horror fiction.. people like Byron, Coleridge, Blake, etc.. It’s lewd, socially transgressive, and so on. in the decadent period.. authors like R. W. Chambers, and the aforementioned Machen.

      6 years ago
    • The dragons flaring from old churches in Norway are the same iconography as the naga of Cambodia . I believe the reason viking ships are shaped as dragons is because they’re a water serpent and not a flying monster. It’s the creepiest thing to compare pictures of because I’m sure many historians would never admit that of being true . In terms of energies and hauntings, and I’ll try not to repeat myself too much in these comment streams but I am dying to figure out more answers for this, there was a Christian theologian named Rudolf Otto who coined a number of influential phrases that have since entered the english language.. one of these is the MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM ET FASCINANS , this is the emotion you get expressed in a drama like The Master’s Sun.. ghosts are grisly, august, sacred, repelling, and yet fascinating. It characterizes a lot of the tension in the romance of the show. The main girl character she’s both repelling, fascinating, ‘deep’.. etc.. The other really important concept and I’d say the most important better felt than described is this idea of daemonic-dread , I’ve seen this in Korean dramas a lot as well but this quote from Chongho Kim’s Korean Shamanism: The Cultural Paradox is what I’d like some reflection and dialogue on.

      First I’ll append a disclaimer to what I am about to quote, that many people in Korea hate shamanism. Just as many people in contemporary English culture hate the gothic. At the same time, there are very special people like H. P. Lovecraft, and I recommend reading his master thesis Supernatural Horror In Literature, who are pulled to the Other-World like a moth to a flame. There are some who have a gift for this and preserving these -emotions- and experiences around the world enriches us. This is a Korean native writing and describing his experiences in english. The discourse in weird supernatural horror fiction on academic blogs like http://www.TeemingBrain.com is mainly centred around Rudolf Otto’s theology as far as the language for this, but Otto is describing this kind of language and experiences, particularly the hair standing on end. Notice -how- it is used in possession ceremony.

      that said,

      Daemonic-Dread within S.Korean shamanism, from the chapter titled A Haunted Feeling in Chongho Kim’s Korean Shamanism: The Cultural Paradox,

      Soh Bosal started the kut ritual with a drum, sitting together with Oki’s Mother on the mat. It was a very cold and windy night even though it was spring. Everything seemed to be frozen in the spring cold. It was so cold that I came back to the car for a rest while Soh Bosal performed the first phase of the kut. I was not keen to observe the first phase, because it just consisted of routine procedures. I took a cigarette out of my pocket and put it in my mouth. Suddenly I felt a strong haunted feeling in the air around me. It felt as if a ghost was going to jump in front of the windscreen. I was so scared that I felt goose bumps appearing on my skin, and a shiver ran down my spine. I turned on the car’s interior light and looked in the rear vision mirror, because it felt as though a ghost was about to enter the car through the rear windscreen and squeeze my neck from the back seat. I locked all ofthe doors. But still the spooky feeling did not go away. So I switched on the radio and turned up the sound … I began to talk to myself … [What] is the reason I was possessed by a haunted feeling just now? … What did Mirim’s Mother say to you? She said, “I do not like to see kut rituals, where there seem to be lots of ghosts around. I feel as if worms are going around my body.” Yes! The haunted feeling … Chisun’s Grandmother said to me, “… The waves of life made me know this way.” … Linda … asked me in a letter “Why do they take responsibility for the ‘dark’ side of life?” … I continued to talk to myself… Because of the dark side of social life, there is a cultural domain dealing with the experience of misfortune in Korean culture. In contrast to ordinary domains, the field of misfortune is full of darkness and dampness. Look at this kut for Oki’s Mother! Isn’t it full of darkness? … It is my impression that shamanism looks like a poisonous creature. Korean shamanism is very colourful: its dances and music are dynamic, and costumes are full of bright colour. However, most adult Koreans know that its poisonousness. This is why Yongki’s Mother said, “I’m not going to a kut ritual because I am afraid of being possessed by the spirits!” (kwisine ssiuiulggaba). Is there any ordinary Korean who likes to be possessed? This is why they don’t like to be involved in shamanic practices. This is why shamanism has been stimatized in Korean history. This is also why my research has encountered such strong resistance in the field. The field which I have been investigating is the field of misfortune! Why do people seek shamanic practices even though they don’t like shamanism? How can this paradox be explained? Yes! Like cures like. The mode of shamanic healingis homeopathic. It is like using derivates of poison when one is bitten by a venomous snake. In Korean society, there is no one who suffers from misfortune more than the shaman, and no man or woman ever wants to be a shaman. The shamanic illness, an extreme of misfortune, makes the shaman a healer. … the Stick held by Oki’s Mother still showed no sign of being possessed, even though it sometimes shivered a little bit. Soh Basal asked again, “Is it like something has come?” Oki’s Mother replied shakily, “Well… I don’t know. The Stick shivered a little bit… ”

      Channeling, Hungry Ghosts, Reciprocity, from Korean Shaman Rituals by Jung Young Lee,

      Our special interest lies in the initiation process of charismatic shamans who are primarily confined to the mid-central part of Korea where Seoul is located. The initiation process of shamans is known by many different names such as Gansin, Sini naerinda, Sini orunda, Sini tanda, and so on. Perhaps these terms are best translated in English as the ‘intrusion of spirit in the body’, even though it is usually understood as the possession of spirits . When the spirit enters or approaches the body , it is known as Sinju or the spiritual master or spiritual self who becomes a counterpart of the shaman’s soul. Here, the spirit master acts as yang or the active principle and the soul of the shaman is yin or the receptive principle. Both of them coexist together as wife and husband. In other words, it indicates the intimate union of two souls, the male and female, or the male god and the female shaman or the female god and the male shaman. … To say this another way, the mystical union between god and shaman is primarily sexual. It is rather interesting to examine the term ‘Sini tanda’, which literally means to place god over shaman’s body, which seems to indicate the proper position for sexual intercourse. … We occasionally hear people talk about the loss of soul or or the escape of soul (T’al-hon). To me these terms are inadequately applied to the Korean shamans. It is not the state of no soul or escape of soul but the state where the soul is completely receptive to the coming of spirit. When the spirit comes in, there is a mystical union, the oneness of two, which creates the experience of ecstasy. … This wedding with god is known as ‘Naerim gut’ or ‘Kangshin gut’ which formalizes the initiation of shamanhood.

      6 years ago
  39. Thanks for the movie recommendation Martina! In the UK fortune telling is something hard to come by apart from tarot cards and palm reading, those are the only types we have! I have mixed feelings about fortune telling, because i was bought up in a family that doesn’t believe in anything like that, however the idea of face reading sounds really interesting and i’ll definitely give it a try if i go to Korea!

    6 years ago
  40. Cool! I like tarot and had no idea Korea had something like this! :O

    6 years ago
    • I like how you’re first to comment again. The Chrome app working well still, I take it? :D

      6 years ago
    • Thinking about it though, one of my favourite dramas “Faith” has a scene way at the beginning where the main character gets her fortune told by someone who throws sticks and does weird chants. (probably a charlatan but throwing stuff around for fortune telling does happen)

      6 years ago