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Fan Death and Korean Superstitions

April 4, 2013


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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!



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Fan Death and Korean Superstitions


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  1. In my country I’ve heard

    1- Woman that whistles, her luck she turns away.

    2- A woman that wets herself while washing the dishes will mary a drunk man.

    3- Three zits on your forehead and you’ll have your period within the next week (this is for girls who havent gotten yet)

    4- Eating the red things of the rooster’s head, helps men be more powerful.

    5- The number of hair twirls you have is the same number as siblings (by blood) you have.

    6- One sneeze, someone’s talking bad about you. Two sneezes, someone’s talking good about you. Three sneezes, someone’s missing you. Four sneezes, you’re ill.

    7- (This is on some places) The lady shall have her second given name “Little Lady” (Senhorita) and the man shall have his second given name “Manuel” so they have a better life.

    8- (Also in only some places, inc. parts of Spain) The bestman of the groom shall sleep with the bride on the previous night and the best maid of honor of the bride shall sleep with the groom.

    9- Crossing the fork and the knife once you’re finished, is rude and gives you bad luck.

    10- If your left ear is red and hot, someone is talking bad about you. If your left ear if red and hot, someone is talking good about you.

    11- Eating the white part of the orange makes your boobs go bigger.

    12- Eating the skin of bacalhau makes your boobs go bigger too.

    13- If you suddenly feel a shiver in a warm place and the mood goes down, it’s because death passed by to kill someone near.

    14- You shouldnt drink coke on September (it’s related to the 9/11 incident)

    15- If the sky is pink at sunset, there will be good fish. If it’s orange, there will be a really good weather the day after.

    16- If the rooster sings 13 times, it’s bad luck or something bad will happen the day after.

    17- There’s a street in the capital that has a man at midnight near the trafic lights waving and if you wave back, he’ll hunt you and murder you. (so if you see a man there at midnight and he waves, dont wave back)

    There are many but more than that, it’s myths and stories mostly related to chinese stores (which I find very racist) and the Clown Mouth Gang, syringes and heavenly stories.

    7 years ago
  2. WAO hahahahahahahahaha do not wash your hair after you study… i was like WHAT? i feel more relaxed after watching my hair when i did some many projects and homeworks for college, i mean superstitions.. i hate them… makes you have fear about things that are not real…. hahahaha in my country in the holy week it’s a bizarre thing… specially on Good Friday, a lot of people specially those who lives outside the capital say that in Good Friday all the spirits are out looking for some child to get because they are not baptized, or that you are becoming a fish (cuz’ is the day of the death of Jesus christ one supposed to respect… a lot of people just don’t do that) if you got to the beach a monkey if you climb a tree and so on hahahahahahaha! =)

    for experience no one should get the fan blowing right at your face… not because you are going to die… but its bad for your health, the fan accumulates dust and more stuff, and if you are allergic like me… it’s not good. but i don’t believe that i mean….. how many fan deaths must be occurring if that were true in korea! but well…. I love your videos and your blog! and you are a lovely couple. My english is not very good looking (hahahahaha it’s a phrase of a salsa singer Celia Cruz! XD) my first language is spanish. My name is Shamir… like the late prime minister of Israel… Isaac Shamir (im talking about the pronunciation XD). nice to meet you =)

    7 years ago
  3. Here in portugal it’s believed that if you move into a new house you have to put salt on the entrance to make all the bad spirtis go away.
    Also, it’s believed that if you eat 60nuts you’ll die xD

    7 years ago
  4. In Lebanon, if you hear an owl hoot, then someone you know will die. The weird thing is when we visited Lebanon a few years ago, an owl hooted one night and my dad’s cousin passed away that morning… O_O

    7 years ago
  5. Actually my aunt told me fan death is because when you breathe out the fan will force the air back down and suffocate you in your sleep.
    Honestly, I’m pretty sure my lungs can handle a little fan……

    7 years ago
  6. Some Malay (Malaysian) superstition:

    1. Don’t sharpen your pencil until it’s shorter than your pinkie, or your mother will die (or something like that)
    2. When lying on your stomach, don’t lift your legs up, or (again) your mother will die.
    3. Don’t sing while you’re cooking, or you’ll marry an old man. (only applies to girls)
    4. Don’t change seat/place when you’re already start eating, or you’ll get married to a lot of men (unsuccessful marriages)

    7 years ago
  7. post: A dream with dragons or pigs makes you have luck with money
    me: YES! so much money luck!
    post: ….not G-Dragons
    me: DAMN! no money for me…. :(

    7 years ago
  8. I’m originally pakistani but I’ve lived in saudi arabia for a long them so I’m going to write about superstitions in both places.
    In Pakistan:
    it is bad luck if you don’t finish all your food.
    Don’t drink milk after eating finish
    Don’t let others walk over kids orelse they’ll stop growing
    It’s bad luck when you hear owls at night
    Don’t open and close scissors without a reason orelse tgere will be family problems at home (my favourite)
    In Saudi arabia:
    Give youe children crappy names so that bad luck loses interest in them
    N make your kids look crappy so that people dont curse them

    I don’t know what most of them mean either but they’re the ones that I know of

    7 years ago
  9. In Poland, there is the same superstition concerning rainy wedding days, you know c:

    7 years ago
  10. Hey Simon and Martina,

    I wanted to ask you about one thing. I’ve heard that Simon can speak a little Polish and your surname definitely sounds Polish, so I wanted o ask about your family roots, are you guys somehow related to Poland? I’m asking this cause I’m Polish myself, and I’m kind of curious ( I know it’s not the most important question though). :)

    Ps. Love you guys! :)

    7 years ago
  11. There’s one in Brazil that I think is actually pretty cute, It’s like this: If you have a cat and move you should put butter on its paws so it doesn’t go back to the old house.

    Another one would be If you pass under a rainbow you change your gender, WTF O_o

    And if you kill a spider you will have love problems…

    7 years ago
  12. The reason they don’t use the number 4 is because the pronounciation for 4 “사” means “death” in 한자.
    That is also why there is no 4th floor in hospitals. When you go on an elevator in a hospitals, the floor numbering goes 1,2,3,5,6,…
    They just call the 4th floor the 5th floor.
    This superstition also carries over to Japan and China because their pronounciation of 4 and death are the same as well.

    7 years ago
  13. I heard about the fan one. I found out about it AFTER I would sleep with the fan on at night one summer with the door closed. So… I didn’t die.

    7 years ago
  14. I live in America’s Inland Northwest. I’m not particularly superstitious, at least about any of the superstitions I hear about most around here, but my friends have sometimes freaked out when I want to show off my katana-handled umbrella inside. xD Oh, and I pick up pretty much any coinage I find on the ground, but people often seem to think that picking up a penny that is left on the ground with tails facing up is bad luck and I don’t know why. D: As for superstitions I actually believe in, most of those are ones that I think might be local to just my family. Example: when a light bulb goes out or something glass breaks we say change is coming and that negative energy was getting stored up in those things, so now that it’s released, life will be getting better. :D

    7 years ago
  15. So, no ceiling fans in Korean bedrooms? They are standard equipment in most homes in the steamy American South.

    7 years ago
  16. The number 4 superstition probably comes from the colonization period since it is also considered bad luck in Japan because Shi(4), in japanese, also means death.

    7 years ago
  17. Actually most of the western world shares the superstition that a certain 4 is lucky, the four leaf clover! Do korean people believe in other ones, like it’s bad luck to walk under a stair or to see a black cat (and if they do, do they walk seven steps backwards?). In my country it’s very lucky if you find a horseshoe, and that you have to put it above the frame of the door, depending on how you hang it it’ll bring good or bad luck.

    7 years ago
  18. It sounds like your Soozi’s version of the shoe superstition is fairly specific. I had always heard of it as you don’t give shoes (any) as gifts to your lover/partner (male or female) otherwise they will run away from you.

    7 years ago
  19. Norwegian superstitions:

    Open an umbrella inside and it will rain the next day.
    If you are born on a Sunday (like me) you will have a happy prosperous life (I was also born on the 4th though..)
    If your broom suddenly falls over, it means someone is coming.
    If you are thirteen people at the dinner table, the first one to get up will die first.
    killing a spider is bad luck
    stepping on a manhole cover is bad luck
    On midsummers eve, pick a bouquet of wild flowers and sleep with it under your pillow, and you will dream about the one you will marry.
    On Christmas eve, leave a bowl of porridge in the barn (if you have one) for the gnomes. If you don’t, they will give you bad harvest and your cows sour milk. If you do, they will help your farm prosper.

    We also have many of the same as in North America, like black cats, broken mirrors, horse shoes above the door for good luck, four leaf clovers, walking under ladders etc.

    7 years ago
  20. I <3 the pun about dragons/G-Dragons, lol, I seriously cracked up

    7 years ago
  21. I don’t know much about superstitions in north america but I think that my country (Portugal) have more in common than Korean. there are some supertitions that you might thing weard but nothing compares with fan death i think ahah. the supertitions that I know are: it’s bad luck if the groom see the bride before the wedding, it’s also bad if you open a umbrela inside the house, it brings good luck if you wearnew and blue underwear on New Years eve, brings luck if you enter with the right foot on the first day of work, school and etc, if your ears are hot someone is talking about you (i think if is the right they are talking good and if is left they’re talking bad), about numbers in Portugal 13 is bad luck and 7 is good luck, eating cheese afects your memory, in a toast with alcohol its bad luck if you don’t drink and also is very bad if you toast with water and a thing that is in common with South Korea is that is good luck if rains in a wedding so it’s said: “wet wedding, marriage blessed.”.

    p.s. I reeeeeaally enjoy your site and your work I hope you continue!

    7 years ago
  22. I’ve heard of the “don’t buy your girlfriend shoes or she’ll run away” superstition but I find it ridiculous and I know nobody who believes that :)
    Btw I’m from Germany and we have those superstitions like you get bad luck when you break a mirror, when you see a black cat – if it’s crossing your path from left to right it’s even worse – but good luck when you see/touch a chimney sweep and many more.

    Also it’s considered rude when you bring artificial flowers as a birthday gift.

    I think the biggest/most popular superstition here is when the 13th day of a month is a Friday. That’s supposed to be a day when only bad luck happens. Though I used to think of it as a lucky day because one Friday, the 13th, I went to school and our teacher didn’t come for the first lesson. So we just waited and then a teacher came and told us we could go home :D But nowadays it’s just a normal day to me ^^

    7 years ago
  23. Some stuff from Germany:
    – don’t break a mirror that means 7 years of bad luck
    – shards (broken glass e.g.) mean good luck
    – always shake hands with your right hand, the “good” hand (idK my grandma (she was polish btw :D) used to say this)
    – if you swallow your bubblegum you’ll suffocate and die
    – don’t use your mobile phone during lightnings, you might get struck and killed by a lightning even inside your house.
    – turn off your tv during lightnings and thunderstorms or it might explode
    – never say “I won’t be next” at a wedding if you’re not married or you’ll be next for sure
    – never eat white sausages (Weißwurst) after 12.00 lunchtime, that might mean bad luck (some ppl said this here in Bavaria LOL)
    – full moon means having a hard time sleeping
    – if christmas is warm then spring will be ice cold
    – do not pick up dead deer from the street (drive round it) or you’ll get some infectious diseases

    There was some other thing about weddings too, but I cannot remember right now… anything with rain and good/bad luck. People from Germany, can anyone remember/does anyone know what I mean? ^^

    7 years ago
  24. This is all for girls:
    If you pinch the bride on her thigh, you will get married next.
    Dont jump on a trampoline or ride a horse or else your uterus will fall!!!

    But like other countries, its mostly the older people.
    From Saudi Arabia ^^

    7 years ago
  25. in Denmark it’s good luck to be pooed on by a bird… – but only if it’s in the head – or should – not sure :)

    7 years ago
  26. In the Netherlands I know that or at least someone once told me that if you eat the seeds of a watermelon that a plant would grow outside your ears. O_O

    7 years ago
  27. Some Swedish superstitions:

    1. If you see a black cat it’s the devil in disguise. Spit three times over your left shoulder to protect yourself.

    2. Heather (<- a kind of flowers) at home brings death. – So if you see these, don't bring them home. Swedish superstition suggests you won't live to tell the story.

    3. If you sneeze it means that your enemy has mentioned your name.

    4. "Pepper, pepper touch wood" – To prevent something nasty from happening, Swedes simply knock on wood
    while reciting "peppar, peppar ta i trä" so they're not jinxed. Just a
    plain knock works for other nationalities, but Swedes like to be extra

    5. Don't go under a ladder, it will give you three weeks of bad luck.

    6. On Friday the thirteenth, don't step on a crack in the street. If you do it will bring terrible, irrevocable misfortunes.

    7. Don't spill salt, if you do it will give you bad luck.

    8. Don't open a umbrella indoors, it will bring you years of bad luck.

    9. If an owl appears near your house, someone in the family will die.

    10. If magpies plays in your garden, you will get a visitor.

    11. If you have cake and your slice of cake falls over, you’ll never get married.

    12. If it rains on your wedding, you’ll have a long and happy marriage.

    13. Stepping on manholes (i think that's the name in english, sounds to dirty tho haha) with an “A” on them is bad luck.

    14. Leaving your keys on the table is also bad luck, a belief that
    supposedly dates back to 'ye good olde days in Sweden, when prostitutes
    would signal their availability by leaving the keys to their rooms on
    the bar.

    Me myself never go under a ladder, or open an umbrella inside. I also never step on an "A" manholes (manholes… nasty)

    7 years ago
  28. About the “blessing” someone after they sneeze: I never really realized it was a superstition until now. I just thought it was something people did after someone sneeze to recognize that they almost just blew their brains out you know? I’m from Canada and currently living in Taiwan, and I find that when I sneeze and no one says “bless you” (which I’ve heard so often that it’s kinda lost its meaning to me. Like Newfoundland) I feel a little unloved lol. And when someone sneezes and I don’t hear other people saying bless you or “ga-zoontight” (I have NO clue how to spell that, it’s german for the same thing I believe) It’s weird as well. I’ll actually say ga-zoontight after someone sneezes just outta habit, and I feel weird not saying it, but at the same time, with no one else saying it, and the recipient of my acknowledging that they almost died not understanding it, I feel weird too…..

    7 years ago
  29. What stories to Koreans tell? Like what stories do parents tell their kids in order to scare them so they behave? Or like, La Llorona

    7 years ago
  30. Brazil

    -If you drink milk and eat mango (not necessarily in that order) you DIE. (The story behind it its because back in the 1500s when we had slaves, all their masters would let them eat really were mangos. So they would sometimes drink the milk from their master’s cows secretly and very stealthily. However, their masters found out and came up with this story to stop them from stealing milk. Some people, especially old people, still believe it and will yell at you if you eat mango and drink milk lol).

    -If a pregnant woman is craving something and she doesn’t get it, then the kid will be born looking like that something. ie. If i’m pregnant and I’m craving apples and I don’t get one, my kid will look like an apple. lol Some people say the kid will always have his mouth open and hanging. Also, the person who refused to fulfill the mother’s wishes will get pink eye.

    -If someone sweeps your feet (with a broom) you will never get married.

    -If you eat the last something of the pack. Like, if you eat the last cookie of the box or the last candy of the bag, you will also never get married.

    -If it rains in your wedding, its bad luck. Which is the opposite of Korea hahahaha.

    -In addition, if you eat something straight from the pan, it will rain on your wedding day.

    -We have a lot of superstitions with the Moon. If you cut your hair in a full moon, it will have a lot of volume. If you cut it in crescent moon, it will grow faster. If you cut it in waning moon then your hair will either be very thin or it won’t grow. Some people say it will fall of. There are also tons of moon superstitions related to agriculture. Also, when a person is very lucky we say he/she was born with his butt facing the moon LOL.

    -We have the more common ones like black cat is bad luck, breaking a mirror is 7 years of bad luck, walking under the stairs its bad luck, stepping on a crack on the street is also bad luck.

    -If someone says something that is bad or bad luck you should knock on wood three times so that it won’t happen.

    -Kids that play with fire, will pee on their beds.

    -If someone buys some kind of food/drink and you eat/drink it before they do, then you are going to steal their boyfriend/girlfriend.

    -If you eat and then go swimming or take a shower you will have indigestion. Some people say you DIE. lol

    -If you walk under a rainbow you will change genders. LOL

    There are tons more, Brazil has A LOT of superstitions. I know cause I’m Brazilian. Most people don’t believe most of these anymore, but grandparents are very fierce about them LOL.

    7 years ago
    • Rainbow science nerd alert!!!
      Did you know it’s actually impossible to walk directly under a rainbow because of the angle the sunlight is refracted the rainbow is always the same distance from your position.

      7 years ago
  31. I spent many summer nights in korea in high school sweating like crazy because my mom wouldn’t even let me put the fan in my room!! My door had to be open, and the fan had to be in the hallway, on “turning” mode – so I only got some cool wind when it turned towards my door and when the wind bounced a little bit of air on to my face. Pretty ridiculous, but at the same time I kind of believed it because my mom and all her friends believed it! haha.

    As for writing my name in red ink – I’ve pretty much avoided it my whole life. Even in the states when signing my tip, if the waitress gives me a red pen I’ll dig through my purse for a different colored pen. ^^; I don’t know why – it just feels taboo to do it. :p

    7 years ago
  32. I should be dead. I sleep every night with a fan blowing in my face from like 6 inches away (and it’s a big fan). In the winter I still have the fan, I just sleep under a heating blanket. If I don’t I feel like Im suffocating.

    7 years ago
  33. Being Filipino my mother has a tendency of tell my family to always eat with the lights on, if you eat in the dark it’s bad luck.
    Also there’s myth called the “Manananggal” it is a vampire-like creature that would eat fetuses and to ward these vampires away is to spread salt on your windows.

    7 years ago
  34. As a Brit, I’ll also back this up. There is no ‘A’ in omen!

    7 years ago
  35. I would say there’s a few things I do that are superstitions. I will never bring pork over the Pali Highway, if I remember correctly it’s because will anger one of the gods and the car will not start. Don’t ever take a lava rock, Madam Pele will not be happy with you. My mom has this thing about me not sleeping with the fan on me, mainly because she believes that’s why I get sick.

    I do find it funny how there are so many religious people here, but they still will respect the Hawaiian gods. It seems like things sorta strangely go hand in hand here. I even believe all of these, expect the fan one.

    Oh I forgot one, if you see a owl in front of you, don’t go ahead. You turn around and go back. If it flies over you, there’s danger back there. This one I believe 100%. My uncles were driving somewhere and they saw a owl. They turned back and went home. Turns out, there was a bad accident where they were going and would have been killed on the stop.

    7 years ago
  36. lottery ticket = can’t find because it’s illegal for Koreans to gamble. BUT what of the casinos?! SO MANY. and so many Asians inside…
    that’d be because they’re all for the foreigners (apparently… there are a lot of Indians inside? And of course the expected Chinese and Japanese)

    7 years ago
  37. Funfact:U bless people when they sneeze because that short millisecond(or even shorter) moment that u sneeze, ur heart stops beating, so people bless others that they won’t die!

    7 years ago
    • Actually, it was believed that when you sneeze a demon will posses you, so you bless them to rid of the demon.

      7 years ago
    • Are you sure about that? A heart beats really slowly compared to a millisecond. If you have 60 heartbeats per minute that’s 1 heartbeat by second. So basically you are saying that if you happen to sneeze when your heart is beating it will stop the beat? How can you stop something that you have already started like that. It makes no sense to me. I really don’t know if it’s true or not, but I believe you should not trust everything you read on internet.

      7 years ago
    • Wow, interesting. I didn’t know that 0_0

      7 years ago
    • Oh, that’s so cool!

      7 years ago
  38. Hi Simon and Martina^^

    So I know that you guise came to korea to teach and that a lot of your friends and family told you not to,

    But what made do decide to come to korea in the first place?

    And what made you guise want to come to korea so badly even when a lot of people tried to stop you???

    THANKS ><

    7 years ago
  39. But what if I indeed saw a dream about G-Dragon? It was yesterday, we compared our hands because we had similar wounds(?!?) on our fingers. Some crazy dreams I have…

    Anyway, Finland doesn’t have a lot of superstitions, not at least that I know of. We have all these magic things you can do to foretell your future etc, but I don’t know if those are real superstitions. And yes I’ve done some of those :D This year should be a good year for me financially but I don’t know about that, the first three months weren’t too good. Haha of course we don’t really believe them, it’s just something we do for fun or because it’s a tradition.

    Wait, I remember one! If one of your eye lashes fall, you should pick it up, put it on the pad of your thumb and blow it away while wishing something and the wish will come true! Some say you should throw it over your shoulder but throwing an eyelash is frigging difficult, so I prefer blowing them away.

    7 years ago
  40. Crap! The fan turns into a clown! I hate clowns! They’re so scary!~
    …even worse that i’m listening to jin young-boogie man! while waiting for this to load…

    7 years ago