“A needle burglar will become a cow burglar.”
This saying means that a burglar who starts out stealing small things will eventually move on to steal bigger things. It serves as an explanation for the fact that people cannot do something bad and end there; they are going to be tempted to do bigger, worse things.
“Don’t wash your hair the night before an exam.”
Many Korean students believe that when studying for an exam, all the knowledge is contained in the hair. Therefore, they believe that washing their hair before an exam will wash away the knowledge, and they will not be able to do well on an exam.
“Don’t step on the threshold when entering a room.”
This is a popular Chinese superstition. Many Chinese people say that stepping on a threshold when entering a room will result in a death in the family. To the Chinese, thresholds represent life, and stepping on thresholds can cut lives short.
“Take a shot of whiskey for a hangover.”
Although this hangover remedy seems to have absolutely no basis in reason or medical knowledge, my informant swears by it. Every time he has a hangover, he takes a shot of whiskey–no matter how badly he wants to throw up.
Perhaps this remedy works for my informant because whiskey is so strong that it can probably force a person to momentarily forget about any nausea or sickness. In addition, Korean males firmly believe in the power of alcohol as a remedy for anything.
“Eat mi-yuk-gook (seaweed soup) on our birthday.”
Korean people have a tradition of eating seaweed soup every birthday because this same soup is used as a source of rejuvenation for women who have just given birth. Seaweed contains many of the nutrients that are needed to make a body healthy and help it recuperate, so seaweed soup is commonly used to aid new mothers. Therefore, seaweed soup is eaten on birthdays in order to appreciate the suffering their mothers went through.