Author Archives: ronniyoon

Chinese Architectural Superstition

“A house that has a staircase that leads directly to the front door is a cursed house.”


My informant first heard about this superstition from her friend Mrs. Jin.  Mrs. Jin had been boasting about how she had been able to rent a beautiful house in Irvine for the cheap price of $1100 when it should have been $1700.  She told my informant that the owner of the house who rented it to her was a Chinese man.  He was aware of the old Chinese superstition that a house with a staircase that runs into the front door is cursed, leading to inevitable death.  Mrs. Jin and my informant laughed about that notion because they were at church function at the time, so as Christians they found the superstition preposterous.  Eerily, Mrs. Jin that same week went in for a bypass surgery that should have been simple enough, but she died from complications.  Now she is uneasy about the superstition.

Mrs. Jin’s death and her renting the “cursed” house could have been a mere coincidence.  A front door that connects directly to the staircase can cause uneasiness because good fortune can fly out the door easily, or perhaps death can easily find you since the stairs are a direct pathway to your room.  I am a Christian, so I should not pay attention to such superstitions about death, but to be on the safe side, I myself would never live in a house like that, especially after hearing about what happened to Mrs. Jin.

What comes around goes around.

“What comes around goes around.”


My informant first heard this proverb actually told to him a couple of years ago when he was sixteen years old.  He had been having fun while two-timing two girls, but eventually they found out about his infidelity.  A few months later after he cut his ties with both girls, he wanted to start fresh and leave that incident behind him.  When he was introduced to another girl who was from Fullerton, CA through a friend, he was extremely smitten with her.  Unfortunately, unbeknownst to him, he had become a notorious topic among the girls.  The girl completely ignored him and appeared disinterested.  His friend later that night told Andrew that she already had heard the rumors about him and had said about him, “What comes around goes around.”  She had no guilt in snubbing him because he deserved it for his past wrongdoing.

This idea of karma is interesting because people feel relieved from the sense of justice.  Your transgressions will always come back to haunt you.  I do believe that what goes around comes around.  Conversely if you do beneficial activities, your goodness will somehow be rewarded later.  I believe this proverb has the intention of promoting good behavior while discouraging bad behavior.  I hear this proverb often in dealings with romantic relationships; when someone breaks another’s heart, that someone is bound to have his or her heart broken, too.  I tie in this proverb closely with another one: “What goes up must come down.”  Both advise that your actions have consequences in the future.

Annotation: This proverb is the title of the popular song by American singer Justin Timberlake, “What Comes Around Goes Around.”

Good things come in pairs.

“Good things come in pairs.”


My informant cannot recall when he first heard this proverb, but he heard it again recently at a New Years party in Huntington Beach in the year 2007.  A voluptuous girl was dancing in front of his friend and him who were sitting on the couch.  He laughed aloud when his friend who was practically leering at her nodded and said, “Good things really do come in pairs, don’t they?”  His friend was referring to the girl’s shapely breasts and rear, which she was flaunting in front of them as she danced.  This proverb has been around for a long time, and his friend added some humor into it as he saw fit in the circumstance.

Although I would not have thought of using this proverb in a circumstance as Andrew’s friend did, I do believe good things come in pairs.  My favorite number is two.  I consider it a lucky number because the idea of “double” is always appealing – double the fun, double the pleasure, double the happiness, double the wealth, etc.  It also ties in with other proverbs like the one that says, “Two heads are better than one.”  The song with the lyrics, “One is the loneliest number,” establishes the idea that two is then better because you won’t be alone.  Unlike the number thirteen that has such a stigma in America, two is more positively viewed, though not as much as the typical lucky number seven.

You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl.

“You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl.”


My informant first heard this saying as an eighth grader in middle school that is located in Downey, CA.  She had gone on a three-week trip to New York.  It was her second trip there.  The first time she had visited New York, she remembers being mesmerized by the city, and when she returned home, all she could think about was going back.  However, on this second trip to New York, she missed home, Los Angeles (Downey is a suburb of L.A.) very much.  No matter how exciting New York was, she became homesick.  A friend she had met on the trip there noticed her homesickness and told her, “You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl.”  Physically, Cindy was in New York, but her heart was at home, Los Angeles.

I personally love this quote and apply it to myself as well.  Distance from the place you grew up in and the place where you are surrounded by familiar faces and streets cannot make you forget the attachment to that place.  I have lived in L.A all my life, and if I were to live anywhere else for the time being, I will still have “L.A.” qualities about me.  I would probably not blend in with my new location immediately.  Similarly if a girl from a rural farm ventured into the city, she would still have traits that show she most likely grew up in a farm.  She may seem to be overwhelmed with the loud cars and crowded streets.  If I lived in the countryside for a year, people would obviously know I am from the urban area because I would probably appear very restless and uneasy with the calmness.  Where an individual was raised makes a large impact on that individual’s personality.  Hence, the girl can physically change her location, but her heart remains in the place she has called home for the years past.

Korean Crow Superstition

If a crow cries in front of your house, death is near.


My informant first heard this when he eleven years old, living in the rural city of Daegu, Korea.  He had woken up early in the morning not to the rooster’s crow but to the cawing of a crow.  His father also awoke to chase the bird away.  His father cautioned him to be careful for the rest of the week because crows usually caw in front of a household that has death in its near future.  The cawing of these birds struck such fear in families.

The crow is not a welcome omen in the American culture, either.  I would think so because the crow is a fowl that is completely black.  Usually black is a sign of something ominous, evil, and more specifically death – hence, people wear black to funerals.  In Korea the term for crow has the meaning “blacky.”  I remember pulling into our driveway with my mother, and she was disconcerted to see a crow resting on our porch.  She chased it away as he described his father had done.  The black ominous figure casts a shadow over people who believe the crow brings news of death.