Last Updated on
Korean superstitions are not only interesting, but they’re still widely used today. It’s a fun way to learn about cultural norms, especially if you are living or traveling in Korea.
Korea has it’s own set of unique superstitions. Although everyone doesn’t believe in them, most people know about them. That makes for some great conversation topics, especially if you want to speak Korean and improve your conversation skills.
Below, we’ve collected the top 12 Korean superstitions for your reading enjoyment.
Let’s get to them!
The Korean superstitions below can be some great conversation topics, especially if you have some Korean friends.
They’re also useful so you can know what to watch out for. For example, the color ink you choose might not matter to you when writing someone’s name. However, it could to Koreans!
Below, we’ll explain what you need to know about Korean superstitions.
1. Moving on certain days is bad luck
It’s moving day, so make sure you have everything packed. Favorite athletic shoes? Check. Giant coffee mug from a trip to India? Check. Evil spirits? Best to leave those behind!
Superstitious Koreans believe that if you move on certain days of the month, it can be bad luck. The reason is that that evil spirits will follow you to your new place. According to folklore, the ghosts will be prevented from heading into the heavens if you block them with your moving activities on certain days.
Luckily, there is a calendar that will help you choose the right dates to move according to this superstition. Follow this calendar and to make sure that you keep the bad luck away from you. The calendar title is called“손없는날 달력” (soneomneunnal dallyeok | evil spirit-free day calendar). 손 (son) means “evil spirit”. Stay away from the dates on the calendar with“손없는날 (soneomneunnal)” written on it!
2. Fan death
Some Koreans believe that electric fans can kill you. This is one of the more common Korean superstitions. This is because a number of electric fan have caused deaths in Korea.
Not all fan situations are bad though. This superstition says that if you have some windows or doors open, you’re good to go. However, if you close the windows and doors in a room with a fan on, you’re asking for trouble.
According to this Korean superstition, the cause of death is that the fan creates moving air around your face. That moving air makes it hard to breathe, so people suffocate.
It’s such a widespread belief in Korea that many consider the fan timer to be lifesaving function. The Korean phrase for the “fan death” is 선풍기사망설 (seonpunggisamangseol).
3. Whistling at Night
Whistle while you work? Sure, that shows you’re a happy person. Whistling at night? It’s probably not a great idea if you believe in Korean superstitions.
Even if you ARE happy, it’s probably best to avoid doing this Korean superstition. Ghosts and snakes love a good whistle tune at night, so Koreans believe it’s best not to summon that twosome.
To stay free of this Korean superstition, schedule the whistling sessions after sunrise!
4. Number Four
The number four is bad luck in Korea. This is common in other countries in Asia, too. It’s similar to the superstition in the western world about the number 13.
Koreans believe that the number four is bad luck, since it also means “death”. As a result of this Korean superstition, the fourth floor of a building is often replaced with an “F”. For example, the floor sequence will go 1, 2, 3, F, 5, and so on.
Apartments with multiple “4s” in them have a lower value since they are seen as bad luck.
The Korean word 사 (sa) means “four”, and it also means “death”. Follow this Korean superstition to keep good luck flowing your way!
5. Beautiful Food, Beautiful Kids
Some superstitious Koreans believe that the appearance of your food contributes to the appearance of your kids.
Let’s take a gimbab for example. If you look at a sliced gimbab, the middle pieces are more organized look more appealing than ends.
According to this superstition, if a mother eats the middle pieces while she is pregnant, she has fortune on her side to bring her some good-looking offspring.
If Mom loves to chow down on the gimbab ends, then she’s less likely to have to worry about her children becoming celebrities. Keep this Korean superstition and other Korean table manners in mind next time you have your meal.
6. Don’t give shoes as gifts
Aside from the fact that it’s hard to find someone’s correct size, giving shoes as gifts in South Korea is a no-no. Koreans who believe in this superstition believe that giving shoes will cause the receiver to run away.
This is especially bad to do with your significant other, unless you’re trying to find a subtle way to give a hint!
This is one of the Korean superstitions that you may want to stick to if you care about your relationship. There’s plenty of great gifts you can shop for in Korea, so best to stay away from shoes.
7. Don’t shake your legs
Not only does shaking your legs distract Grandma at the dinner table, but it also brings bad luck your way!
In Korean culture, your legs symbolize wealth and prosperity. Koreans who believe in this superstition think that if you shake your legs, you’re shaking the wealth right out of you. You can say “다리 떨면 복 나간다” (dari tteolmyeon bok naganda).
8. Avoid writing names in red ink
It’s bad luck to write names in red ink. The main reason is that the names of the deceased used to be written in red ink. Therefore, if you write someone’s name in red ink, the superstition says that you’re giving that person a death wish!
You’re safe with other words in red ink, but make sure the names stay in standard blue or black ink.
Better to keep those bright colors for special occasions and avoid this Korean superstition all together.
9. Dreaming of pigs is a sign of good luck
If you wake up from a dream and feel like you just got back from a trip through an animal farm, you may be in for some good luck!
This is because the pig symbolizes good luck, wealth, and fortune in Korean culture. If you believe in Korean superstitions and you wake up with pigs on your mind, you may have wealth, a promotion, or other good luck coming up in your future.
10. Eating yeot brings good luck
엿 (yeot) is Korean hard taffy that is made from glutinous rice. Because of its stickiness, this Korean superstition says that it will cause good luck to stick to you.
This is true for the correct answers for exams as well. Students who believe in this Korean superstition will often eat it before exams to help them recall the correct answers.
11. Avoid jumping over your baby
Superstitious Koreans believe that if you jump over your baby, he or she won’t grow tall.
Since it’s dangerous to jump over your baby anyway, this is definitely one of the Korean superstitions that everyone should follow.
12. Don’t touch your eyes after touching a butterfly
There’s a Korean superstition that says that if you touch a butterfly and then touch your eyes, you’ll go blind.
If you find yourself around butterflies, you may want to follow this Korean superstition and keep some wet napkins nearby or stop at the closest sink.
What Korean superstitions have you heard of? We’d love to hear from you, leave us a comment below!