Korean Superstitions & Halloween Events
It is the season of superstitions, gruesome tales of death and dismemberment and scary costumes. Superstitions (미신) change from country to country and culture to culture so while stepping on a crack may not break your mother’s back in Korea, whistling while you walk just might! We like to get out and about have fun with the rest of them so I’ve compiled some of the popular Korean superstitions to beware of this holiday season and always AND there are some great events to get to this Halloween if you’re looking for them. Don’t miss out on all of the fun this autumn. Make sure you get out about to the apple festivals, see the fall foliage and eat the sweet autumn treats while you’re at it too!
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12 COMMON KOREAN SUPERSTITIONS
It’s always good to be aware of superstitions when you move to a country so you’re not seen as socially inept or inadvertently wish someone death… which is probably a faux pas in every place around the world.
1.May the 4th Be Bad: The number four is considered bad luck so, in elevators and other relevant places where a four would commonly be seen, the number is replaced with the letter “F” rather than having the numeral scaring unsuspecting elevator users. If you’re looking to buy a house and this superstition doesn’t have you wary though, check out apartments with multiple number 4s. They are often lower in value due to less people wanting to live in them.
2. The Red Death: Never write someone’s name in red ink as this denotes that someone has died. In the past red ink was used to write a persons name on the family registry who had died, thus doing it while someone is living is to wish them ill or death.
3. Evil Spirits Be Gone!: Koreans believe that moving on certain days of the month will not only have you bringing boxes to your new pad, but also angry spirits as well. Before you contact those movers, make sure the day is an “evil spirit free” day (손없는날) on the calendar.
4. Suffocation Beware: Some people in Korea believe that a fan can kill you! This common superstition comes up almost every summer in the news and garners attention as people discuss and disagree. Some believe that leaving the fan on while inside a room with the windows closed and the door shut while you sleep will result in your death by fan (선풍기사망설). Some people say it all started when people were found dead in their rooms with nothing in the room except a running fan… obviously EMTs must have then reported that the fans were indeed the culprits behind the gruesome murders.
5. Don’t Whistle While You Walk: Some believe that whistling at night will beckon the ghosts and spirits of those passed as well as snakes… guess that means you shouldn’t start whistling your favorite tune as you take a jaunt this week.
6. Shoes Away: If you were thinking of buying someone some new kicks in the upcoming holiday season, think again. Giving someone shoes will almost definitely have them running away from you… at least that’s what this superstition says. (On a funny side note, my husband has given me shoes multiple times in our relationship a rather BIG no-no… and yet…)
7. Walking Apart: There are plenty of paths in Korea that are said to denote love and lengthy relationships should you walk down them in Korea and as such, there are just as many that will have you walking to splitsville. The path along Deoksugung Palace is said to lead couples to break up. This was once where couples walked to go to divorce court so I guess there’s something to this superstition.
8. Shake It Off: Getting children to sit still is probably one of the biggest annoyances to many parents and grandparents. Did you know that shaking your legs doesn’t only make you look nervous or jittery but also brings you bad luck in Korea? Legs symbolize wealth and prosperity so shaking them means you’re literally shaking the wealthy right away from you (다리 떨면 복 나간다).
9. The Blind Butterfly: It was once believed that touching a butterfly or moth and then teaching one’s eyes would lead to blindness. How this got started, I’ll never know but you’d just be better off not touching your eyes in general after playing with insects or animals of any kind.
10. Flying Husbands: Giving your husband, spouse or boyfriend chicken wings for dinner will most cause him to “fly” away as his belly will be full of chicken wings. Goes for any winged creature really and basically means you don’t want to feed your significant other anything that can fly…
11. No Jumping Over Babies!: There are plenty of superstitions on raising kids in Korea and one of them regards jumping over them. Not sure why someone jumped over their child in the first place but, so it goes… It is said that jumping over a baby will cause him/her NOT to grow taller. I wouldn’t recommend trying it to test the theory though.
12. Stick To Me: To wrap it up, we’ll leave with a maybe more positive one. Korean yeot or hard taffy made from glutinous rice is so sticky that the superstition around this one has good luck sticking to you if you eat it. This is often given to students studying for a big test so that the correct answers will stick to them and help them during the exam.
There are a number of events that take place to get into the Halloween fun. From tours to drinking and Halloween costume contests, there’s something for everyone. If you’d just like to get out into the autumn foliage, definitely check out heading to Sky Park where the reeds are tall and brown and blowing in the wind or get over to the other areas of World Cup Park where there are cosmos blooming and tons of fall foliage to enjoy. Nari Park up in Yangju is also gorgeous right now with autumn blooms as far as the eyes can see. And not to be missed, the Cheongdeok Palace Secret Garden might be at its most beautiful in the autumn so don’t miss it.
Mix & Malt Halloween Party
“It is that time of the year again when Mix and Malt throws one of the finest Halloween party in town. The witching extravaganza will be held on Saturday 28th at Mix and Malt.” They will host 6 events including a costume event where anyone in costume will get a W5,000 M&M voucher, a “Going” event that will get you a shooter cocktail upon entrance if you click “going” on their event page and four more that will pretty much leave you Halloween boozy. Check it out.
The Dark Side of Seoul
For something a littler different join a walking tour down the dark back alleys of Seoul to learn a bit more about the ghosts that haunt the streets. Joe McPherson will share the urban legends that you will tell your friends about and maybe if you’re “lucky” you’ll pick up on some strange spirit activity. For an added BONUS, if you take the tour from now until November 6, you can use the code HALLOWEEN to get a 20% discount on the ticket price! Tis the season to check out this haunted tour.
The Great Korean Beer Festival
Drink up your fill of craft beer and dress to impress in your best Halloween attire. Participate in the ‘Halloween Costume Contest’ at the ‘9th Great Korean Beer Festival’ and win 1.5 million worth of prizes! Get your unique and witty costumes ready! This group is always putting on great events with delicious craft beer so if that’s your jam, this is your event.
2017 Zombie Walk Seoul
In its 6th year, this holiday event is sure to impress. Last years event saw more than 500 zombies roaming the streets. While the event itself may only take place in one area, the entire day sees zombies from across the city taking transit and that means hilarious spectacles wherever you are. Make-up artists are usually on stand by to help if you can’t quite do the bloody mess yourself. Bring some (fake) bloody clothes and great zombie facial expressions and get ready for some fun.
Everland, the largest theme park in Korea, is hosting “The Halloween: Bloddy & BOO-tiful!” from September 7 to November 5, 2017. For this year’s Halloween season, Everland theme park has unveiled its new extreme horror zone called Blood City, packed with haunted rides and attractions.
Halloween Pub Crawl
In this, the fourth annual Halloween Pub Crawl hosted by Seoul Gone Wild, get dressed up and hop from spot to spot. There is a hop in the Hongdae area AND in the Itaewon area so whichever neighborhood is your jam, join in. Tickets are going fast for this one, so get in on the action.
Some other events to check out include:
Halloween Haunted Factory Party 2.0 GSM @ SJ Kunsthalle
2017 Halloween Paintball @ Muju Paintball Facility
Blood Moon On Halloween @ Smash Palace
Shindig! Halloween Ball @ Bedrock in HBC
The Halloween Meet Market 2017 @ Myeongwolgwan
Rocky Horror Halloween @ Haebangchon
There are events all around. All around they abound.
Have fun this Halloween and be safe out there!