October 30, 2014
Ok, so we cheated a bit with this TL;DR topic. Instead of talking about the perceptions of ghosts and the supernatural, we used this to tell ghost stories. It seemed right. It’s almost Halloween, after all! And if we just talked about the perception of ghosts and the supernatural I don’t think we’d be able to say much. We haven’t really met anyone that believes in it here in Korea. We met a lot more people in Canada in touch with the supernatural than we did here (because we’ve met none here), so I don’t think that’d make for good storytelling. The ghost stories themselves seem better!
Anyhow, a bit more info on the last story we mentioned: 빨간마스크 or Red Mask Lady originates from Japan where she’s know as Kuchisake-onna or Slit-Mouthed Woman. There are many origin stories, but the most old school one I found was her being a samurai’s wife who cheated on him and was then mutilated by her husband so no one would want her. She then became a vengeful spirit. Why she wouldn’t haunt just her husband…I don’t know! In Korea she is rumoured to be a victim of plastic surgery gone wrong or a crazy women that chases children and tries to kill them. I’m guessing the chasing children one is a story used to get kids home at night. Buuuuuuut in 2004 there were reports in Korea of a woman wearing a red mask who was seen chasing children. Apparently the legend of the Red Mask Lady goes back as far as 1970 in Japan and Korea and has been creeping people out for a long time.
I’m sure the fact that both Japan and Korea use face masks which are commonly worn by average people helps to make the story more creepy and believable, while in other parts of the world it would be weird just to see someone in a medical face mask walking around to begin with! Oh! Also, something we forgot to mention about the story is that the only way to survive an encounter with the red mask lady is by answering her question about being pretty with “You look so-so” or “You look average” and then freaking running for it. Supposedly she gets confused and you get the chance to run awaaaaaaay.
Here’s another supernatural thing in Korea you should know about. It’s really big in schools, and just about every student knows about it. Basically, bunshinsaba is a ritual for summoning ghosts. Here’s how you do it!
Prepare: a piece of paper, a pen, one friend
1. Write O, X on the piece of paper
2. Gently grab the pen with your friend (be relaxed as much as possible)
3. Say “Bunshinsaba Bunshinsaba OiDe Kudasai” twice and ask a question. For example, “ghost-dude, are you here?” Supposedly, your hand will be moved by the ghost, Bunshinsaba. If it moves to the O, that’s a yes. X means no.
4. Repeat the ritual for the next question.
*Important to note, you should use polite language to the ghost.
5. To end the ritual, say “Bunshinsaba” twice and ask “May I finish?” If your pen goes to O, tear up the paper, break the pen, and burn it. If the pen goes to X, try asking a few more times until the ghost answers with a O. If you don’t tear up the paper and burn the materials you might be possessed by the ghost.
There’s actually a movie called Bunshinsaba which was released in 2012 and Bunshinsaba 2 which came out in 2013, if you feel like doing more research on the topic. Neither were really famous movies, though.
So that’s it for this week’s TL;DR. Hope you have a happy Halloween! Stop by our cafe if you’re in the area. If you’re in costume and say “Trick or Treat” to the baristas, they’ll give you candy. Not lots, mind you: we’re not like those neighbours you had as a kid that give entire candy bars for Halloween. Damn those neighbours! But we will have something for you, and it’ll feel like home in a way, walking up a lawn and trick or treating at someone’s house :D