Author Archives: park118

Never write someones first and last name in red

Superstition as told by informant: My best friend’s mom growing up said to never write someones first and last name in red because that meant you were writing their name in blood and you wanted harm to come to them. She said it was a Korean superstition, I believed her since she was Korean. I don’t know if that was just her making up stuff up or if that really is true, but I’ve never written anybody’s name in red ink since.

In many Asian countries the color red is usually associated with death in various ways. One of them is because simply red is the color of blood. Another association is when someone passes away their name is written in red on the funeral registry and on the funeral banners. It’s believed that this practice wards off evil spirits.

Growing up in a Korean household I have never heard of this because my parents are strict Christians so they were never really into superstitions like this so it is interesting to hear other people’s experience with this growing up.

For more on this superstition see

Eating dduk mandu gook (rice cake dumpling soup) on New Years Day

Informant is a descendant of Irish immigrants who married a Korean man so is familiar with certain Korean traditions.

Tradition as told by informant: Every new years Luis (husband) has the family eat the dumpling soup so I had to go online and look up how to make it.

Every new years Koreans eat this soup because they believe that Koreans age one year every new year. You don’t gain a year until you eat this soup so it is important to them that they have it. It also symbolizes good health and fortune for the new year.

The white, clear broth of the soup represents a clean fresh start to the new year and the disc shaped rice cakes symbolize coins for wealth and good fortune.

for more on this tradition see:

Brave Hong Kil-Dong

Afraid of the loss of children as they are only half Korean, the informant’s husband reads Korean folk tales to his children because they contain life lessons on greed and humbleness.

Folk tale as told by informant: One of the books that I would read to our youngest was a folk tale about a Korean Robin Hood. As a commoner he led a band of men in stopping corrupt wealth people from pressing arbitrary charges on the poor. If I remember correctly, I believe one of the stories included a wealthy man charging a man for a tree’s shade. But towards the end of the story he learns that the shade is more valuable than the greedy man has imagined.

As a child I growing up under a Korean household I distinctly remember reading this story. I have tons of these kinds of tales in my room and I remember going over to my friend’s houses and seeing the same stories in their bookshelves. So I believe tales like this one were fairly common in Korean-American households.

Marrying a white person

Superstition as told by informant: So apparently, in Korean culture there is a common motif on white witches aka gisheens. They are pretty much like the Korean version of the Bloody Mary. While I was dating Leslie (who is white) the family was giving me a lot of crap because I wasn’t marrying a Korean woman. And one of the things my aunt told me as a joke was that marrying a white woman is considered bad luck and is the same as marrying a gisheen. I know it sounds racist, but you know how Koreans are.

I’ve definitely heard this from my friends who’s parents have told them the same thing. But I do believe the generation gap between the informant is fairly vast. So now days Korean parents are more comfortable with us marrying someone outside our ethnicity, but I do believe for my informant’s generation they were a lot more serious about this, which resulted in jokes like this one.

Don’t shake your legs or else you’ll lose your wealth

Informant is a descendant of Korean immigrants who moved to the states in the early 80s and now resides in Utah.

Superstition as told by informant: my mom said not to shake your legs or you’ll lose money. I’m pretty sure she told me not to shake my legs because it was considered impolite in public, but this was just her way of getting me to stop shaking my legs.

In Korea your legs symbolize wealth and prosperity so shaking them is a sign of shaking your wealth off.

I did some research and could not find anymore on why legs are associated with wealth, but it seems like a tactic used by parents to prevent their children from creating the annoying habit.