SUPERSTITIONS IN KOREA
Koreans can be very superstitious. Many businesses have shrines; corporate presidents consult fortune tellers about important business decisions; farmers offer soju to the rice field gods before planting their crops; and new cars are exorcized of demons by Confucian priests who open up the doors, the hood and the trunk, saying some words and shaking some religious objects. There is Ouiji-board-like game in which you draw a picture of an ancestor and ask him or here questions.
Seeing a spider in the morning is considered good luck. Bats are also considered good luck. Several Korean companies feature bats in their name or logo. There is Black Bat cellular phones, for example, and Black Bat messenger service. Swallow are thought to bring good luck. When crows cry, it is believed that bad luck will follow. Since crows are attracted to dead bodies, Koreans associate crows with misfortune.
Dreams with pigs or dragons are considered good luck but dreams with dogs are bad luck. Pigs are symbols of fertility and the Chinese pronunciation of "pig" is similar to the pronunciation for jade, a symbol of wealth. Until the 1970s, pigs were regarded as so valuable that students could pay their university entrance fees by selling one. Koreans sometimes sell their dreams. If someone has a good luck dream they can sell to a friend who is taking an important exam or is getting married. If a friend or relative of a pregnant woman has as dream about a crane, it predicts a good future for the child. Dreams about hot pepper indicate a boy.
Loch Ness-like monsters reportedly have been seen in a crater lake on Mt. Paektu on the China-North Korea. A UFOs with a long bright tail appeared for about 10 minutes and was seen by many witnesses and photographed in Seoul in 1996. One witness said, "the object first moved slowly, then turned 180 degrees and flew way, leaving distinct after images. The object looked exactly an object that was seen in 1995.
Common Superstition in Korea
You are never supposed to write a person’s name with red ink. Red ink conveys unfriendliness and even death. This shamanistic belief is believed to be have originated in China, where red calligraphy was reserved for execution decrees. Cutting one's fingernails or toenails at night is considered bad luck to cut as the Japanese pronunciation of night and death are similar. [Source: Wikipedia]
Four is considered an unlucky number because the words for "death" and "four" have similar pronunciations. Many hospitals and other buildings used in Korea don't have a fourth floor, the same way some Western buildings don't have a 13th floor. Also, things like dishes and utensils, which are sold in sets of four in the United States, are sold in sets of five in Korea.
Never stick your chopsticks or spoon straight up in a bowl. This is a sign of death reserved for funeral services. Some Koreans believe sleeping with the fan turned can bring death by causing a lack of oxygen and hypothermia during sleep. Giving someone shoes as a gift, is seen as a sign that the receivers spouse or partner will leave them. People that shake their legs can lose their good luck or future opportunities.
Setting foot on a threshold, it is believed, can bring bad luck — a superstition that is tied to funeral beliefs that date back at least to the 12th century. Koreans have traditionally believed that it is preferable for one to die at home and for the body to remain in the home for some time. Leaving the house in a coffin is viewed as the final departure from the world of the living and thus the threshold of the front door was viewed as the boundary between life and death. For this reason it is considered a sign of misfortune — even a harbinger of death — for a living person to step on the threshold of a door
It is thought that if one eats sea mustard soup on the day of an exam, one will fail the test. Sea mustard is slippery, so it is thought if one eats it the facts they have memorized will slip away or they will "fall down" and fail. On the other hand, if a person eats a sticky rice cake or Korean hard taffy, he or she will pass the exam. Rice cakes and Korean hard taffy are sticky, so the facts will stick in their brain instead of slip away, and thus the person will do well on the exam.
Praying for Good Test Scores in South Korea
Before the university entrance test in South Korea, to improve the odds of the children doing well, mothers make offerings at temples, pray to Buddha for a good score and buy chocolates with "pass the test" printed on them. According to one survey 40 percent of Korean parents refrain from sex while their children are preparing for the college entrance exam. Grandparents give the students two-foot-long chocolate axes and forks that help them “spear” the right answers.
For good luck male students keep women's underwear and steal chrome plated car letters ("S" for Seoul National University, South Korea's best, "V" for victory and "III" for 300, the best score). Girl students carry a lucky cushion, Buddhist rosary bracelets and charts drawn up by fortunetellers. At Buddhist temples lanterns are hung with the names and birthdays of students who will be taking the test.
Some mothers pray all night Buddhist temples in an effort to help the children get good score. Describing such a woman praying at a Buddhist temple Valerie Reitman wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Clasp hands in prayer, Bow. Down on knees. Head on floor, Back on haunches. Clasp hands in prayer. Begin again.. By midnight, Na had already bowed 2000 times, aching but determined to persevere.” Others at the temple had prayed every day for 100 days and the all-night session was the climax.
Fortunetellers in Korea
Fortuneteller are sought out for advise on choosing the dates for important family events such as weddings and funerals. They also used by supervisors making promotion and hiring choices; and by store and restaurant owners picking names of their business, the most auspicious time to open, and the best floor plan and orientation of the rooms.
Fortunetellers use Chinese astrology, palm reading, feng shui (geomac)y, name analysis and “kunghap” (a kind of fortunetelling in which fortune is expressed in terms of the Four Pillar as expressed by the date and time of birth). Fortunetelling based on physiognomy (face reading) is very common. According to Reuters: “ Big ears, for example, imply a person who is calm and easy to get along with, while big eyes show someone who is sensitive and sweet. A mouth with corners that turn up indicates a person who can easily lose control of their sexual life.”
Lee Ho-jeoung wrote in the JoongAng Daily: “There are different ways of foreseeing the future. Some fortune-tellers hold conversations with the souls of clients' ancestors or with unseen gods. Some use mathematical and scientific methods that apparently only they can can read or understand. Some rely completely on visions that seem only to make sense in their eyes and no one else's. Some spread rice on a table and read the grains. Some read wooden sticks to see what's ahead. All fortune-tellers talk of a future that, well, may or may not come true.” [Source: Lee Ho-jeoung, JoongAng Daily, January 3, 2003]
Some fortunetellers tell fortunes by shaking and throwing rice grains and matching what is revealed that with birthday and time information. The number left of rice grains left after shaking reveals information about marriage, wealth and other stuff. Other methods include tossing coins and choosing a flag.
Number of Shamans and Fortune Tellers Reaches 1 Million During Economic Downturn
In the late 2010s, when South Korea was going through an economic downturn, the number of Korean shamans and fortune tellers grew rapidly in part perhaps because people increasingly needed advise and consolation and also because people needed jobs. When unemployment rises more people seek to become shamans or fortune teller because there is less regulation and degree or license requirements than in other fields. The same phenomenon occurred during 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis.
Chyung Eun-ju wrote in the Korea Times: The groups of fortunetellers and shamans “with the most members are the Korean Kyungsin Federation and the Korean Fortune Telling Association, which each have around 300,000 registered members and 200,000 unregistered people – a million people in all. The number of members has doubled from 10 years ago when there were around 140,000 members in the Korean Kyungsin Federation in 2006. [Source: Chyung Eun-ju , Korea Times, November 28, 2017]
“Shamans and fortune-tellers have a similar goal, but the methods are different. Korean shamans, also called “mudang,” communicate with the spirits to predict someone’s future, while a fortune-teller uses physiognomy to tell the future, or prophecies based on the Book of Changes, four pillars or Eastern philosophy. According to a Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism report on religious practitioners in 2011, there are 14,483 Protestants, 46,905 Buddhists, and 15,918 Catholics. Shamans and fortune-tellers are not considered religious practitioners, but are categorised as service practitioners.
““As the economy slows down, the fortune-telling houses also suffer a recession, but there is a tendency where the number of spiritual practitioners also increases,” said Jo Sung-je, head of the Institute of Mucheon Culture, who researched shamanism for 30 years. “When households fall apart one after another due to economic difficulties many people get possessed by a spirit and become a shaman.”
“An academy affiliated with the Korean Fortune Telling Association promoted fortune-telling as a career path by saying, “In a reality where employment is hard and there is an increase in the ageing community, fortune-telling can be a lifelong and secure vocation.” “There are job applicants and housewives who attend classes during the weekdays and businessmen preparing for retirement who attend night classes,” said an employee at the academy. “More fortune-telling classes are opening and more people are using fortune-telling apps and reading related books.
Visiting Fortunetellers on Korean Chinese Lunar New Year
Lee Ho-jeoung wrote in the JoongAng Daily: Whenever a new year starts, Koreans more than anything like to make mad dashes to their local fortune-tellers. To celebrate this Year of the Sheep, the JoongAng Daily randomly selected three fortune-tellers and asked each what 2003 holds in store for this country. Lee Soo foresees the future through the past. He used to be a foreign exchange dealer, bases his fortune-telling on two principles — "history repeats itself" and "numbers don't lie." Now he runs a fortune-telling Web site, www.askfuture.com, available in English. [Source: Lee Ho-jeoung, JoongAng Daily, January 3, 2003]
Early last year, in the Year of the Horse, Mr. Lee predicted that Roh Moo-hyun would make it to the Blue House. "Reformers have historically taken the inside track in the Year of the Horse," Mr. Lee says. "It's the perfect timing for such a progressive as Mr. Roh." Mr. Lee, seated in his office in Mok-dong, southwestern Seoul, says he also foretold the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy in the Year of the Snake. "Fortune has not been favorable to the United States in the Year of the Snake — for one thing, Pearl Harbor happened that year."
The year 2003 is like a calm after a storm, like vegetation refreshed by rainfall, he says. In other words, Mr. Lee sees economic and political stability, to some extent, at least compared to last year. But in the latter half of the year, Mr. Lee sees growing discordance in the Five Elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth), portending misfortune that will reach its peak in 2004. Mr. Lee expects it will be highly likely for the United States to begin a war against Iraq before February, when the Year of the Horse ends by the lunar calendar. "The U.S. historically had many wars in the Year of the Horse," he says. Mr. Lee is keenly interested in the stock market, too. "Based on a 60-year cycle, the first half of this year is in favorable shape." Beginning in August, however, the spirit of metal will get stronger, which projects great jeopardy for the market. "Get out of the stock market at least in July," Mr. Lee warns. This year cannot be free from calamities like terrorist attacks, droughts or floods, Mr. Lee predicts. "The Five Elements are placed incompatibly this year, which foretells sacrifice of numerous lives. People should especially look out for water-related disasters," he says.
“Cha Jin-bae, 54, working out a small tent in Daehangno, central Seoul, is a fortune-teller who reads the future chiefly through a customer's face and palms. He also uses the more traditional "four pillars," which utilize the year, month, day and time of a client's birth. When he feels like it, he also has visions. "For the Year of the Sheep, the roadway ahead will be cleared and cleaned," he forecasts. "It is difficult to predict with much accuracy the future of this country," he says, hedging. "Unlike telling a person's fortune, the prospect of a country has a lot of variables that could change the future. Therefore, my prediction may not be exact and things may change." That said, he does believe that the country will settle down and grow more stable — sometime in July. "Everything will turn out fine by then. Even the nuclear crisis in North Korea will be resolved," says Mr. Cha. Mr. Cha adds that several well-known, older-generation politicians will announce their resignations, and that new and younger political figures will emerge. "There will be one or two young politicians who are in their 20s," Mr. Cha says.
Kim Jae-won, 72, who plies his trade in his apartment/office on the fourth floor of a building in Mangwon-dong, northwest Seoul, says that the outlook for the new year is something a fortune-teller cannot and should not predict. "I have a basic guideline that I use when talking about the future, but unlike other fortune-tellers I don't predict the outlook for a country," he says. "And that, my friend, has been my belief for more than 30 years." For individuals, however, he says he has a systematic method of predicting what may lie ahead. "It may not look like it, but this is very scientific," says Mr. Kim. He also says that he adds to the usual formula of dates and times his own experiences about what events he thinks are extremely likely to take place. Nevertheless, there is one rule of thumb that he always follows when telling others what will follow. "If I see bad things happening to a client, I never tell him directly what that will be," he says. "I merely point him in the direction so that a bad thing can be avoided. For the good things, I spell them out." Sticking to his rule of thumb, he says that he has only one thing to predict for this year. "It's the Year of the Sheep, but even sheep come in several varieties. They come together and form one, which will lead this year. You understand? No?"
Visiting a Face Reader in Korea
Patricia Marx wrote in The New Yorker: “When the mother of South Korea’s former President Chun Doo Hwan was trying to conceive a child, in the nineteen-twenties, she met a wandering monk who told her that she had the face of someone who would be the mother of a great man — unless her buckteeth got in the way of destiny. With dispatch, she knocked out her front teeth using a log. (Some accounts say that she used a rock.) Her son ruled Korea from 1980 to 1988 as a brutal and repressive dictator. [Source: Patricia Marx, The New Yorker, March 23, 2015]
“If it worked for the President’s mother, it could work for you. It is not uncommon for a Korean who is considering face alteration to seek the opinion of a professional face reader — i.e., someone who offers advice on which nips and tucks will do the most good. The occupation grew in prominence after the financial crisis of 1997-98, when competition for jobs became fierce.
“On my last day in Seoul, I decided to pay fifty dollars to consult a face reader. “Should I smile?” I asked my translator, who communicated the question to a squat old man in a quilted Chinese-style jacket, who was, like so many others I met that week, gazing critically at my countenance. “Just be natural” came the answer. We were in the face reader’s dark, tiny office, which was crammed with oil paintings, an old TV, drawings of the body segmented as if they were cuts of beef, and lots of tchotchkes (a Manchester United paperweight, a small Buddha, a piggy bank).
“After asking me when my birthday was, the face reader offered some general truths. “He says if there is a scar between your eyes it makes you desolate from all your wishes and hopes. Then totally, yes. One should have plastic surgery,” my translator said. “He says if there’s a nose bridge that isn’t straight enough, it disconnects you from your family.”
But, I asked, what about me? “He says your eyebrows look like you have a lot of friends,” the translator said. “And your nose indicates that you are going to be wealthy.” Should I change anything? “He doesn’t have a bad thing to say about you. But your teeth might be a little weak. And you should eat a lot more beef.”“
Fortune-Telling Saju Cafes in Seoul
In the early 2010s, fortune-telling ''saju,'' or ''fate'' cafes were a common sight in Seoul as young people sought out fortune-tellers for advice, particularly on their job and marriage prospects. Reuters reported: “The Seoul cafe served tea, cake and fortunes. "I will work in publishing or translation, and marry an accountant in six years," said the woman in her early twenties, seated in a Seoul café. "We will have one son," she added, totally serious. She was far from alone. The trendy cafe in downtown Seoul filled with antique tables and pastel-toned decorations was crowded with others who, like her, had come to find out what the future may hold for them. [Source: Reuters, Nov 19, 2010]
“Fortune-telling has permeated South Korea's youth culture in the form of "saju," or "fate," cafes, where fortune-tellers tell customers in very specific terms about their possible jobs and marriages. The fortune-telling is based on things such as birth dates and facial characteristics. For generations, South Koreans have visited "mudang" houses, where shamans act as an intercessor between spirits and humans. Donning a colourful costume, the shaman enacts "gut," a ritual with a good deal of singing and dancing, to interpret the fortune of clients. But the younger generation's endorsement of this pseudo science dates from the last four to five years.
“The first round of saju owners set out to lure customers wary from older fortune-telling styles, which seem outdated to young people in the world's most wired nation. Even to older customers, the glaring eyes, raised voices, and bluntly given information — and not always pleasant information, at that — of the mudang shamans can be intimidating.
“The Gangnam and Sinchon areas of Seoul, favourite haunts of young South Koreans, are fortune-telling meccas. Large signs beckon every few blocks and people press fliers into the hands of passersby. "One free cake for one fortune told!" said one flier. Each cafe has a distinct fortune-telling method. Some fortune-tellers pull up a chair, while others see customers in a separate room.
“Costs range from 5,000 won to up to 100,000 won depending on factors like location and the reputation of the fortune-teller. "In my opinion, Koreans tend to need some sort of validation by others about their thoughts. They also tend to be a bit fatalistic," Professor Suh Eunkook of Yonsei University said. Customers leaving the cafe appeared satisfied. "I'm so glad I got my fortune told today," the woman to marry an accountant in six years was heard saying. "I could have made a huge mistake."
Feng Shui in Korea
Feng shui or geomacy is known as poongsu in Korea. In Korea, it relates as much to where people born and die as to where they are living There are many professional eh do it. They made their living mainly by builders, home owners, business and developers how to position their buildings and families on where to have their tombs placed.
Kim Du Gyu, an author of a book on poonhsu, told the Los Angeles Times, “People here are very easily hypnotized by a rumor that so-and-so had a good site for his parent’s grave. They want to believe that there is some deibine power behind their leaders.”
Belief in poongsu is high, even at the highest levels. According to well known story South Korean President Park Chung Hee ordered the destruction an island near the birthplace of Kim Dae Jung because the island was said to be a source of Kim’s power. There are also stories that when the Japanese began their occupation of Japan in 1910 they placed stakes in key locations to disrupt Korea’s key energy sources.
Describing a geomacer at work, Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “The old man in the gray felt hat walks around purposeful around to the back...and cast his eyes upwards to the mountain that looms just beyond. ’Ye, yes,”“ he murmurs with approval, pointing with his cane to the crest of the mountain. “You can feel the energy.”
See Separate Articles FENG SHUI: HISTORY, BUILDINGS, GRAVES, HOMES, BUSINESS AND LOVE factsanddetails.com;
IMPORTANT CONCEPTS IN FENG SHUI factsanddetails.com; FENG SHUI, QI AND ZANGSHU (THE BOOK OF BURIAL) factsanddetails.com
Symbols in Korea
The Chinese Zodiac, which is used is Korea and Japan, is based on years rather months. Each year in a 12-year cycle is named after a different animal, with distinct characteristics associated with that animal. Many Koreans believe that the year of a person's birth is the primary factor in determining a person's personality traits, mental and physical attributes and success in love and life.
Year of Rat : 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020...
Year of Ox: 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021...
Year of Tiger : 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022...
Year of Rabbit: 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023...
Year of Dragon : 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024...
Year of Snake: 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025...
Year of Horse: 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026...
Year of Goat: 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027...
Year of Monkey: 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028...
Year of Rooster : 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029...
Year of Dog : 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030...
Year of Pig : 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031...
The 12 Asian zodiac animals are combined with the five basic phases (gogyo) to form a cycle of 60. Also, yin and yang (in and to in Japanese) years alternate with one another, and each of the five phases has both a yin and a yang form. Hare years are always yin, representing the female, soft and cool principles of the universe. [Source: Kevin Short, the Daily Yomiuri] The Chinese zodiac is based on a centuries-old system based on natural elements, marked by fixed colors and assigned a dozen animals as they correspond to the hour, date, month and year of birth. To make leap year adjustments, the colors of white, black, green, red and brown also are assigned.
In Korea, as is true in China, lucky symbols appear on everything from handkerchiefs to tombstones. Many auspicious symbols are homonyms of Chinese characters associated with good fortune, prosperity and longevity. Many inauspicious ones are homonyms of Chinese characters for "death" or "bad luck." Well-known symbols of prosperity and good luck include jade (protection, health, wealth and strength); cranes (peace, hope, healing, longevity and good luck); and turtles (long life).
Blood Type Beliefs in Korea
In a custom that originated in Japan, many Koreans believe that blood type is an important indicator of personality and likelihood for success or failure. In Korea, people are often asked what their blood type is rather what their zodiac sign — either Western or Chinese — is. Women are careful about not getting stuck with a boyfriend whose blood type is incompatible with theirs. Movies dealing with relationships between people of certain blood types have been made and songs have been written, especially about that ‘cad’, the Type B male.
People with O blood are considered calm, strong-willed confident, outgoing, goal-oriented, passionate, curious, generous but stubborn needy, manipulative and ambitious. Those with A blood,, are regarded as boring, reserved, indecisive, self-sacrificing, sensitive perfectionists, full of worry, overanxious. and nitpicky Those with B blood are said to be cheerful, independent, talkative, sociable, sweet, pushy, eccentric, selfish loud, sloppy and free-spirited. Those with AB blood are said to be creative, kind, interesting to talk to, mysterious but unpredictable — -B on the outside but A on the inside.
Blood types beliefs are relatively modern (blood types were only discovered in 1901) and have been traced to a widely read paper written in 1916 by a Japanese doctor that linked blood type with temperament. In 1925, the Japanese military began gathering data on blood types in an effort to determine the strengths and weakness of soldiers. In the 1930s, the Japanese imperial government reportedly used this information as part of an effort to breed better soldiers. In World War II, army and navy battle groups were reportedly set up according to blood type.
Jon Herskovitz of Reuters wrote: “Scientists say there is no link between blood type and personality. But that hasn't stopped self-proclaimed experts from declaring, for example, that type-A women, with their shy ways, should avoid type-B men, who are likely to be cads. Associating blood types with personality traits has been going on for decades in North Asia. Most of the original interest started in Japan early in the 20th century and it has also taken off in South Korea. [Source: Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, April 2005]
In Asia, the subject of linking blood types to personality took off with the 1927 publication of a series of articles by Japanese scholar Takeji Furukawa called "The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type". The concept hit pop culture and mass media in 1971 when Japanese writer Masahiko Nomi expanded upon Furukawa's ideas and wrote "Understanding Compatibility from Blood Types". Type-O people were described as outgoing, expressive and passionate. Type-A were considered introverted perfectionists while type-AB were an unpredictable, distant lot.And then there was type-B. They were considered independent spirits with strong personalities. Nomi's works and other similar books from Japan have been translated into Korean. At most major bookstores in Seoul, there are works from Japan on subjects such as how a type-A mother should raise a type-O son.
Different Blood Type Personalities in Korea
According to korea4expats.com: The following are the personality traits ascribed to the blood types: A, B, AB and O. Blood Type A: Positive Traits: Conservative, introverted, reserved, patient, punctual and inclined to be perfectionists. Worst Traits: Obsessive, stubborn, self conscious and uptight. Referred as ‘farmers’ in some descriptions, Type A’s are said to be considerate of others and loyal to a fault. They can also be secretive and reluctant to share their feelings. Apparently they don’t hold their liquor well, either. [Source: korea4expats.com]
“Blood Type B: Best Traits: Animal-loving, creative, flexible, individualistic, optimistic and passionate. Worst Traits: Forgetful, irresponsible and self-centered. Type B’s have very independent natures and tend not to be concerned about what other people think of them. Although often described as shallow and lazy, they can be quite passionate about the things they hold dear. Patience is not their strong suit either.
“Blood Type AB: Best Traits: Cool, controlled, empathic, introverted and rational. Worst Traits: Aloof, critical, indecisive and unforgiving. Referred to as ‘humanists’, Type AB’s are said to be controlled more by their heads, than by their hearts. They are rational, good with money, but unpredictable. Although inclined to be distant, they prefer harmony and as such, work well with mediators. Some consider them two-faced, and therefore untrustworthy.
“Blood Type O: Best Traits: Ambitious, athletic, robust and self-confident. Worst Traits: Arrogant, insensitive, ruthless and vain. Referred to as ‘warriors’, Type O’s are viewed as natural leaders and are often, also, natural athletes. They tend to be outgoing, expressive and passionate, but can also bore others to death with their obsessive drive for success coupled with their absolute convictions that they are winners. This certainty that they will always win explains why they aren’t afraid to take risks or gamble. They have a strong physical presence and are unlikely to ever be overlooked.
Blood Type B Men: Bad News, Wannabe Romeos in Korea
Type B men have a particularly nasty reputation in Korea. Often described as “hunters” or “players”, they are considered selfish, unreliable, with quick tempers. On one hand they are not considered by women to be good husband material. On other hand some when find their bad boy image attractive, at least for the short. term. Type B women are not so mercilessly disparaged.
Jon Herskovitz of Reuters wrote: “Lee Sung-san is a 24-year-old South Korean student looking for love and hoping that the women he is wooing don't ask him for his blood type. Genetics and pop culture have teamed up to make Lee's love life miserable. Lee is blood type-B, which nudges him near to the nadir of the dating scene in South Korea. "I have had women tell me flat out they don't date blood type-B guys. They say we are selfish and hot-headed," Lee said. South Korean magazines, TV shows and Internet chat rooms have been buzzing about blood types for years. But, these days, the subject of attention is just how difficult it is to strike up a relationship with type-B men. [Source: Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, April 2005]
“There are many characteristics associated with type-B people, but the bad rap going around about type-B men in Korea is that they are selfish, mercurial and absolutely useless as caring and devoted boyfriends. Type-B women, on the other hand, seem to have escaped the wrath of pop culture.” In the mid 2000s “South Korean women's magazines and Internet sites dedicated to trends seem to be fixated with the subject of romance with type-B men. According to a recent nationwide survey conducted by Internet portal site xyinlove.co.kr, type-B men were considered to be the most difficult type to date and about 40 percent of women said they did not want to marry a type-B man.
“The Internet message board at the blood clinic of Seoul University Hospital has postings such as one from a woman seeking medical advice to find out "if it is true that type-B men have more extramarital affairs than other blood types?" Kim Tae-suk, a doctor in the department of psychiatry at the Catholic University of Korea, said younger Koreans were buying into defining people by blood types because of what they see on TV, movies and in print. "I can definitively say there is no scientific evidence that links a person's blood type to their character," Kim said. He added that every jilted lover should just calm down and stop blaming a break-up on a bad blood match.
Korean Pop Culture Assault on Blood Type B Men
Jon Herskovitz of Reuters wrote: “” In the fall of 2004, “a song from singer Kim Hyun-jung called "Type-B Men" soared to the top of the charts. The song had lyrics that said type-B men are quick to get angry and quick to make up, but in the end, they will break your heart. Author Kim Nang has been ringing up steady sales of her book, "Dating a Type-B Man", in which she lays out strategies for women of various blood types to deal with the pitfalls and pleasures of striking up relationships with type-B men. [Source: Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, April 2005]
“Another assault on pop culture came earlier this year with the release of the romantic comedy, "My Boyfriend is Type-B", which tells the frustrations of a type-A woman who falls in love with just such a man. The man in the movie makes his girlfriend wait for hours in his car so that he doesn't have to pay for parking. On a date, his head is permanently swivelling to check out other women. The movie, made for about US$2.5 million, took in more than US$10 million at the box office in South Korea and is to appear on Japanese screens later this year.
“Director Choi Sukwon said he had first worked on a movie about blood types as a film student at New York University. He produced a short film that was well-received and later returned to the subject for his feature in South Korea. "Bashing is too harsh a word to describe what is happening to blood type-B men. For women they are seen as bad boys, but they are also appealing because they are charming and attractive," said Choi, himself a type-B man. "Those traits make blood type-B men notorious for girls in Korea. Girls all over the world want their men to be sensitive, to listen to what they need and what they feel," he said. Choi said the more he investigated the subject of blood types, the more conflicting information he received.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.
Text Sources: South Korean government websites, Korea Tourism Organization, Cultural Heritage Administration, Republic of Korea, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.
Updated in July 2021