Go Premium
Facebook Twitter Google Plus

Fan Death and Korean Superstitions

April 4, 2013


Share Post

We mentioned in our video that we have a few more Korean superstitions to talk about in our blog post. They’re not as fun or interesting for us to talk about like the other ones (like Fan Death: seriously guise…FAN DEATH!), but they’re cool to know if you’re interested in facts about stuff and life and you know.

1) Don’t Eat Bread on an Exam Day:

Question: did you ever wonder why you failed that last test? Did you eat bread on that day? If you did, then that’s probably why, dummy! “Bread” in Korean, “bbang” is also the word for 0. So, if you eat 0, you get 0. See how much that makes sense? Atkins diet, FTW!

2) Don’t Eat or Do Anything Slippery on an Exam Day:

Hey: remember that test that you failed, dummy? Did you eat any seaweed soup in the morning (FYI, if you didn’t know, seaweed soup is an acceptable breakfast meal in Korea). Did you put conditioner in your hair when you showered? If you did either of these things, which are slippery, then you let your test results slip through your fingers, or something like that. I don’t know. Don’t do slippery crap on test days! What about slides??? WHAT ABOUT SLIDES!!!???

3) Don’t Crack an Egg on an Exam Day:

WTF YO? What’s with all of these things you’re not supposed to do an eat on exam days? Why so many superstitions about exams? Korea takes its education seriously. You know what’s North American superstition for exam days? Don’t sleep in on exam days. It’ll result in bad grades, because you didn’t attend the damned test!

4) Dream of Pigs or Dragons…not G-Dragons:

You should totally do it. If you do, then hop on over to a convenience store and buy a lottery ticket right away. Dreaming of pigs/Dragons means that you’ll have good luck with money, or something, so buy a lottery ticket. You know: I have no idea how lottery tickets are bought in Korea. I never actually saw a lottery ticket before. I’m gonna have to figure out how to do it. We should make a video about how to win a million bucks via the lottery in Korea. That’d be great.

5) Be a Jerk on Moving Day!

Well, don’t be a total jerk, but a partial one, meaning: don’t sweep up your apartment when you’re about to leave. Pack up all of your stuff into the moving van, and leave the floors dusty. It’s supposed to confuse evil spirits into thinking you haven’t actually moved and are still living in that old place. That seems crappy for the next people moving in, unless in sweeping up your crap they throw away the spirits? Someone help me out here. I just remember being told on our moving days (we’ve had a couple while we’ve been here in Korea) not to sweep up ALL the dust. I wasn’t about to beg like “OH PLZ LET ME SWEEP I LUV SWEEPING” so I left it. Thank you, Korean superstition!

On the opposite side, I like how in Korea people don’t care about opening their umbrellas up indoors, which was a superstition I grew up with (but didn’t care about). Oh, and no “blessing” people after they sneeze. Try it out on your Korean friends/students/co-workers in Korea and they’ll be like…um…WUT.

Also, I’ve never asked about breaking mirrors, but my superstitions tell me you’ll get seven years of bad luck for it. Does Korea have the same thing? All I know is my Baka (“grandmother” in Croatian, not “idiot” in Japanese) broke a mirror-magnet I gave her, and then I (Martina) broke a bone every year for, like, seven years and she blamed it on herself. Which doesn’t make any sense, because the bad luck should go to her, but she explained that because I gave her the mirror, the bad luck went to me. How about I’m clumsy? That’s a good reason! Anyhoo, share your superstitions stories with us! I love seeing how different cultures have similar superstitions and then polar opposite superstitions at the same time!



Share Post



Fan Death and Korean Superstitions


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. My boyfriend’s grandmother is Korean and he said she gets mad at him when he shakes his leg. She slaps his leg and says “you’re shaking away the good luck.”

    4 years ago
  2. I had the same reaction as you, because in China people acted very similar. I thought it was quaint and funny that they cared so much about getting wet.

    OH NO IT’S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. I got caught in the rain biking home from university once. Rain got in my eyes, it stung so much! Rain got on my clothes, and left dirt all over me from the pollution. It was terrible. I had to wash my backpack because it was full of grey dust.

    Now when it rains when I’m in China, I totally run and flee like everyone else because the rain is nasty and wants to kill you.

    6 years ago
  3. Two ways to make yourself dream about the person you are going to marry in Sweden:

    1: On midsumers eve you pick 7 (or 9) different flowers. For every flower you have to hop over a fence, and you do it in complete silence. The flowers you put under your pillow.

    2. Before you go to bed you eat over-salted porridge and don’t drink anything. The person that give you something to drink in your dream is your future spouse. The more expensive the drink is, the more money you will have in the marriage. Water= poor, wine= rich.

    7 years ago
  4. I’ve dated several Korean men, and all of them believed the superstition about not buying shoes for their girlfriend. For them, it was extended to all kinds of footwear, not just high heels. And the saying was that she will “walk out of your life” with the very shoes you bought her. My current boyfriend is not superstitious, but his Korean mother is, and she actually had me give her a dollar after she bought me a pair of shoes. She stated that superstition as the reason why I needed to pay for them… so apparently it’s spreading from men buying high heels for the their girlfriends to anyone buying any kind of shoe for anyone that could potentially leave your life? Not sure…interesting though!

    7 years ago
  5. I think that fan death is more than plausible… except that the reason behind it is wrong.

    – Fans don’t produce their own air, do they? They blow the air behind them forcefully outwards.
    – If it’s very HOT and all your doors and windows are closed in your room, then the air that is blowing from the fan will be hot.
    – Much like an oven. Lower temperature is required for a fan-forced setting than a conventional one. The fan is assisting in heating you up.
    – This could definitely lead to HYPERthermia and could kill you.

    7 years ago
  6. There are a lot of Chinese people in Malaysia, so we have the whole “don’t write a name in red” and the number 4 thing as well. But now I don’t think I can ever look at the fan in my house the same way ever again…

    7 years ago
  7. If you’re in a small, enclosed space and there are toxic fumes circulating, having a fan on for extended periods of time really could cause health hazards and maybe even result in death. There are fumes like carbon monoxide, which is a colorless and odorless gas. The scenario has to be “just right” for death by hypoxia/suffocation to occur, but korean people tend to be cautious by cultural standards regarding health— and especially on the topic of death. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry, but it’s still funny to see people freak out when you have your fan on with the windows closed.

    7 years ago
  8. I’m Chinese and my parents always tell me not to fall asleep with a fan blowing directly to my head. We also believe that giving shoes to people will mean that they can run away from you. Aside from the shoes, giving watches is also a bad luck because “giving watches” means song zhong and it is also the same pronunciation as funeral ritual in Chinese.

    7 years ago
  9. I sleep with a fan in my room every night(For a Month) door closed and windows closed.Nothing happened

    7 years ago
  10. – Don’t let people broom your feets, that’s mean you aren’t going to get married

    – If you ear is itching someone is talk about you. Then you ask to a person to give you a number and then you “will” know who has. example; number 9, and you see what letter is 9 (A=1; B= 2; C=3…. I=9) and then think of a person who you know and the name begin in I.

    – Don’t wake up with the left foot, because you will have a bad day

    – the mirror, the salt, stairs and the number 13 are the same, but is bad luck no the friday, is tuesday for us

    I think there are more, but I do not remember right now

    7 years ago
  11. In Iraq…. Hmmmm~

    Don’t eat chicken skin/ bean skin. (For girls) Gives you a mustache XD

    If you spot a spider in your house expect visitors.

    Don’t sleep on your stomach because someone back in religious history did so because the devil told him to do so (?) I swear this one makes no sense to me O.o

    Say hello when you enter your home, because your guardian angels are there even if the house is empty.

    Dreaming about someone’s death means longevity.

    7 years ago
  12. I loved the fan death XD Delightfully quirky.
    I’m not sure which superstitions here are typically Dutch, since we “bless” people after they sneeze aswell, and we also don’t open umbrellas in the house, but let’s see. (also, I heard the reason for “blessing” is because when you sneeze, your soul leaves your body for a second, and evil spirits might take over. By blessing, you keep those demons away. Pretty good reason I think, but we mostly just do it to be polite, not to chase demons away.)

    When a black cat crosses your path, it means bad luck.
    When you speak about something good that you want to happen, (or something bad you don’t want to happen), you have to knock on an unpainted piece of wood, so you don’t jynx it.
    If someone gives you a knife, you have to give a coin back, or else the ties of friendship will be severed.
    Don’t put your shoes on the table, it brings poverty.
    Spilling salt means bad luck, so if you do spill salt, pick some up and throw it over your shoulder to un-jynx yourself.. or something.
    Spilling sugar however, means you’ll get a visitor that day.
    Don’t buy red cabbage on mondays. You will get into arguments.
    If a train passes while you’re riding under the bridge it passes over, you get to make a wish.
    Killing a ladybug will bring bad luck.
    When taking a drivers’ test, put a nut or a potato in your pocket (idk why XD i also don’t know if it applies to other tests aswell)
    A boy sitting inbetween two girls, or a girl sitting inbetween two boys gets to make a wish.
    First put on your left shoe (to leave the past behind), and next your right (go towards a good future).

    We also have the lucky clovers, rabbit feet and horseshoes (only if the opening is on the up-side, else the luck will flow out),
    but I guess those aren’t typically Dutch or anything. I really don’t know if any of these are.

    7 years ago
  13. Some of the superstitions I grew up with in Norway, not that interesting. We also have the normal “Break a mirror, seven years of bad luck” and the “Knock on wood.”

    1. If you wave something white at the northern lights, it will come down and take you.

    2. If you see a black cat cross the road, spit three times.

    3. If you drop a spoon or fork, guests are coming.

    4. If you leave a bread upside down, you’ll be poor.

    5. Girlfriends should not knit sweaters for their boyfriends before they’re married, then he’ll leave her.

    7 years ago
  14. I’m from the Southern Caribbean and apparently:
    1) If someone’s laying on the floor and you cross over them, you’ll stunt their growth.
    2) You’re not supposed to sweep the floors or do any great amount of cleaning after nightfall, since it raises the dust and attracts evil spirits.
    3) My dad also says that when you’re sleeping, you’re not supposed to have anything with eyes in the room with you, such as posters, stuffed toys, etc.
    4) When you hear your dogs barking for no apparent reason, they’re actually barking at djinns (more evil spirits, yay).
    5) Beware of little old ladies living alone; they’re the Caribbean equivalent of a vampire, only less sparkly and more of the shedding-skin-and-turning-into-a-flying-bloodsucking-fireball type.
    6) You shouldn’t call your children’s names out loud after dusk because they’ll be approached by Asian demon children with their feet on backwards at a later date and then they’ll be kidnapped and drowned at a conveniently located river.
    7) Don’t stand under silk-cotton trees. Ever.
    Wow, this went from airy fairy superstitions to straight up folklore lol. Onward, to cheerier things.
    8) If your palm itches, you’ll get paid/come into money/etc.
    9) …………
    I think that was the most positive thing I could have come up with. We’re pretty depressing down here XD
    I’ve thought about it for a full 5 minutes and yeah, that’s the happiest one I’ve got =/

    7 years ago
    • Wait, if a spoon falls, a woman will walk into the room and if a fork falls, a man.

      7 years ago
  15. If anyone is interested in superstitions in other cultures…

    There is this religion in Cuba, called Santeria, which is basically Voodoo. And it’s very common to see this practiced in Miami cause there are so many Cubans living there. There are some really weird superstitions that come with that I have growth use to growing up.

    1. Many that Santeria worshiper worship their gods through Catholic saints. For ex. Saint Barbara is really Shango, the god of fire, to people who practice Santeria. So since the Catholic church I live in front of is called Saint Barbara Church….It’s normal to find chilcken sacrifices and Statues of saint barbara with it’s face smashed in my driveway…

    2. When someone is ill you dress them in all white to purify them of the illness.
    3. And my favorite, when you want to get rid of an unwelcome guest you take a broom, turn it upside down (so the bristles should be facing up) and put some salt on top of the bristles. We are catholic, but my aunt did that to get rid of someone that just wouldn’t leave our house and it worked like a charm. I died laughing when I worked.

    That’s just a few but most interesting ones I know of. Every cultures got its thing. I believe someone from another Hispanic country told me Tuesday the 7th, are unlucky in their country. Can’t confirm, but that’s what I was told.

    7 years ago
  16. My great grandmother says that if you dream of fish someone near you is pregnant.

    7 years ago
  17. Hmm.. didn’t see a dragon… nor a gdragon.. but for some reason i saw Taeyang in my dreams last night :DD could that mean something :p´??

    7 years ago
  18. If your eyelash falls, put it on your thumb and press thumbs with someone else. Whoever gets your eyelash should make a wish and blow it. If it blows away, that wish will come true.
    If your feet are swept (as if someone is sweeping the floor and they accidentally sweep your feet) you will be a widow.
    If you dream of snakes, it means that someone is creating gossip about you.
    If you dream of water, it means tears are in the future.
    If you proclaim something good that’s happening to you, knock on wood or you’ll have bad luck.
    Don’t pull out any gray or white hair or more will pop out.
    If you have a white scratch or mark on your nail, it means someone likes you.
    These are some of the superstitions that I’ve picked up from my mom (from Mexico) and maybe from the U.S. I’m not sure.

    7 years ago
  19. these superstitions seem to be similar. i guess it traces back to some sort of chinese ideology? there is a superstition that when you give perfume, shoes, or sharp objects as a gift the other person must give money in exchange. because just giving it to them means letting them walk away from your life or cutting ties with them. Oh oh and one that i see in a lot of Thai dramas is breaking a glass framed photo of someone, meaning they are in danger. Usually the person gets fatally injured or dies in the drama heh ^^”

    i also have some questions that i hope to hear you discuss about. I just came back from a short trip to Seoul (despite the news on North Korea I went anyways cause I saw that video you guys made). Anyhoo, I met some foreigners who have been teaching English in Korea. They mentioned westernization and Korea losing it’s unique culture as one of their reasons for returning to Canada/America. So I was wondering what changes you have seen during the years you have been living in Korea. What do you think it’s going to be like in the future, and is it still worth giving it shot to experience what it is like living there?

    7 years ago
  20. There are bunch of Indonesian supertitions. Each island (or states if you like to call it) have it’s own version of supertitions. Since I lived in Java, which is THE MOTHER OF ALL SUPERTITIOUS THINGS.. old people used to scold me for a lot of things I did, but the one that I found riddiculous is, if you don’t sweep the floor clean (like, legit clean), your future husband will have a beard. Then I told my Nanna: “Meh, he can always shave it.” ;)

    7 years ago
  21. Me?

    I was born in Russia and my grandma always gets mad at me when she wishes me good luck and and I don’t answer ‘to hell’ (or literally ‘to the devil’.) And one of my friends, also Russian, gets really paranoid if I whistle inside his house cause that’s supposed to mimic the winds blowing all that household’s money away.

    Some superstitions I’ve encountered while living in Israel:

    Seven is a lucky number. Five is also a lucky number. There are no unlucky numbers xD

    If you cough, somebody is saying/thinking bad stuff about you. But if you sneeze then it’s good stuff.

    …if you sneeze once it means what you’ve just said is true. However if you sneeze twice in a row it means you were lying (so many superstitions about sneezing.)

    If your right ear itches, expect good news. If your left ear itches – bad news.

    If somebody scratches their nose, it means they have bad intentions and you should stay away from them. >.<

    A variation of the 'if you forgot something at your house' supestition: since retracing your steps means bad luck, if you forgot something you're supposed to take some other route to your house (like walk around it) before you reenter it.

    If you see an eyelash on someone else's face you're supposed to make them guess where it is before they can make a wish. Not sure you get anything out of them guessing it right though.

    If a child is lying on the ground and somebody steps over them, that child won't grow any taller unless they're stepped over again (in reverse? lol.)

    When you take off your shoes, don't flip them over or you'll have bad luck. And if you rearrange someone else's shoe so it's not flipped over you'll have good luck.

    Holding some money towards a full moon brings wealth. If you're sick and you wish to recover you should cut off a lock of your hair and throw it towards a full moon. Never actually seen anyone do it though.

    If you find a coin on the street keep it with you for at least 10 days before spending it. That way the good luck will have time to soak into you.

    There was also something about burning peanut shells at your front door… which is supposed to bring good luck. No explanation for that one.

    7 years ago
    • “…if you sneeze once it means what you’ve just said is true. However if you sneeze twice in a row it means you were lying”

      I’ve heard people say that if you sneeze it means you’re telling the truth (that’s an old one), but I never heard the part about sneezing twice meaning that you were lying.

      Is that an Israeli superstition?



      Has anyone else heard this one before?

      6 years ago
  22. In North American and European countries every thing is right handed. Doors, scissors, can openers are all geared for the right handed. If you are left handed or know any one who is left handed, is there a similar orientation in Korea? Or does hand preference even matter?

    7 years ago
  23. What about stereotypes in Korea? Like, what are stereotypes people think of Koreans? And, what stereotypes do Koreans have about other countries/people/states?

    7 years ago
  24. In my country if you open an umbrella indoors an evil entity would kill you. O_O
    When you are sweeping with a broom and accidentally sweep someone’s foot they would never get married.
    Also, when you cross over someone’s legs they would stop growing. XD

    7 years ago
  25. Oh, my mom usually scolds me because I completely ignore this: when eating together with someone, if you ask for the salt, don’t let them give the container right in your hand! they have to leave it on the table near you so you can take it. If you receive it directly from the hand of the other person, they are transmiting all their bad vibes/luck to you…..or something haha.

    7 years ago
  26. Have you guys ever tried doctor fish? I did it once in Japan and loved it wondered if they had it in Korea too, so hard to find in North America though :(

    7 years ago
  27. i don’t know if anyone said this already but whatever, it’s not just high heels, it’s shoes in general.

    7 years ago
  28. croatian superstition
    if you see chimney sweeper you should grab a button and make a wish

    you are not allowed to choose your wedding dress before you are engaged because than you will never get married

    if you sing while you are eating your husband will have crazy wife

    if crow lands on your house someone is going to die in that house… that happend to my neighbour and it was really weird

    when someone is sweeping and you are passing by and some dust came to your shoes you will never get married

    7 years ago
  29. In the philippines, during a burial of a relative or anyone that you know. You have to crossover the kids over the dead’s body to say goodbye and after the burial you have to wash your hands with something herbal medicine so that you won’t be chased by demons. This is the very odd thing that I have ever learned in my former country

    7 years ago
  30. one more Korean superstition. don’t flip your grilled fish when you’re eating. your business/ship/life will be ‘overturned’

    7 years ago
  31. I’m from Illinois, and we learned that when you go to Band Camp, you should avoid the Flutes.

    7 years ago
  32. I’m from Sweden, and here are some of our superstitions:

    (I know you’ll recognize a couple of them)

    1. Stepping on a manhole cover with the letter A on it means bad luck in love, or bad luck on that day. A stands for “avlopp” (Swedish for “sewer” XD), but in the superstition A means “avbruten” (Swedish for broken/broken off), as in “broken off love”. However, if you step on a manhole cover with the letter K on it (K stands för “kärlek”, love), it means good luck in love, or good luck on that day.
    2. Putting keys on a table gives bad luck. The reason for this comes from the practice at some hotels, where women that offer sexual favors show this by having their own room key, which they put on the table beside them.
    3. If you see a black cat crossing the road, it means bad luck. However, the bad luck can be prevented by spitting three times over your shoulder directly after the cat has passed you by, or by saying: Twee, twee, twee! This is an old, Swedish version of the word “ew” XD.
    4. Walking under a ladder gives three weeks of bad luck.
    5. Bringing the heather flower into your home means bad luck.
    6. Sneezing means that your enemy is mentioning your name. Saying “bless you” scares away misfortune.
    7. To accidentally sneeze when going somewhere gives bad luck. If you stay for a short while and don’t leave right away, you won’t be unlucky.
    8. To break a mirror means seven years of bad luck. If you throw salt over your shoulder, this scares away the bad luck.
    9. Spilling salt gives bad luck. I think this is because salt was a really important spice to Swedes back in the day, as it was used to conserve food. So, spilling salt was wasting something necessary, and therefore also bad.
    10. Stepping on a crack in the street means bad luck.
    11. If an unmarried person picks seven or nine different kinds of flowers on Midsummer’s Eve (the Friday between the 19th and the 26th of June depending on the calendar) and puts them under their pillow, they’ll dream about their future spouse.
    12. For some reason, unintentionally/intentionally killing a spider means that it will rain on the next day.
    13. Finally, seeing one single mite means good luck (WTF? XD).

    7 years ago