Author Archives: yaejinch

Tell Nightmares

“When you have nightmares, when I used to have nightmares, my mom would tell me that I had to tell the people that were in the nightmares because if I didn’t, my nightmares would come true.”

This folk belief is different for me because I’ve never heard it before. It almost seems ironic to me since she was told to tell people that were in her nightmare about her bad dream. I would think she would be told to keep it a secret because she wouldn’t want people to know about her bad dream just in case she “jinxes” it; but jinxing is a totally different type of folklore.

Destini Felix is a co-worker of mine. She is 21 years old, not married, no children, and working in an office. She was born in the United States, but raised with parents who have lived in Costa Rica. She was raised mostly by her mother because her father had passed away when she was a child.

For this specific folklore, Destini believes in it because she grew up hearing it from her mother and grandmother.

White Hair and Luck

“If you have one strand, just one, single strand, of white hair on your head,

That means good luck.”

This is another folk belief that my friend, Tim, told me. Like the other superstition that I have heard from him, I have never heard of this one before. It, once again, surprises me that despite us being from the same country and having grown up with first generation Korean parents, we hear different stories and beliefs from our parents.

Timothy Chong is a 22 year old, senior in college, studying psychology. He is a friend I met through a club on campus. When I asked him to share some type of folklore or story he had heard growing up in a Korean household, he told me several beliefs. These can also be called superstitions. The sayings that he shared with me were told to him mostly by his parents because they are first generation parents that immigrated to the United States from Korea.

Tim told me this piece during break at work. We work together and it was a casual setting when he told me all his stories from his Korean culture.

Wedding Dress

“If you see the bride or the dress before the wedding, that’s bad luck.”

“There’s a girl that wanted a special mariachi dress for her wedding. She went to the special place and takes pictures of the bride and her dress. The grooms mom sent the photos to her son so the groom saw the pictures of the dress. The dress had to get sent to her house from Mexico but something went wrong and it went to Houston. They sent the package back, but she found out it came from his house. So she cancelled the wedding and told the groom that she’s not going to marry him anymore because she knew he saw the dress.”

With this specific folk belief, Griselda was especially excited to tell me about it. After she said the superstition, she went on talking about the story that she had heard about from her mother. She believes in this story, understanding why this woman had cancelled her wedding with her fiancee, because their marriage would have been a disaster. For me, hearing this folk belief was funny because it is something I have heard of before in the American culture. Weddings in America are like this too, where husbands cannot see their bride’s dress before the wedding. It was interesting to hear about this belief from someone who’s learned it from a different culture. The stories may be different, but the meaning behind it is the same.

Griselda Vega is a 41 year old mother of two sons. She also works in the office with me. She was exceptionally excited to share with me her culture’s stories and traditions which made it exciting for me to interview her. Griselda was born in Mexico and lived there until the age of 20, when she moved to the United States. At the age of 21, she was employed, and she works at the same office since then.


“This is another ritual from Korean New Years, but I remember after wearing the Hanbok, we did this thing called sebae, where the children bowed to their parents and to adults. We wished them luck for the new year, and for their new year to be full of blessings. Then, they gave us money! I mean.. easy money, right?”

Sebae is probably a ritual that most Koreans follow during the New Years. Even I remember doing sebae to my grandparents and elders when I was a child. This ritual shows how much emphasis Asian cultures, especially, put on respecting elders. This deep bowing allows children to show their respects to their elders, giving them a good opportunity to practice. This is one ritual that I haven’t done in a while and being reminded of it makes me want to start doing it again to my parents.

Irene Choi is a 21 year old, junior, studying Theatre Set Design. She is a friend that I have always heard about, but got close to because we took a class together. All the stories that she told me are from the Korean culture. She grew up living in the United States most of her life, so the folktales are whatever she heard and learned from her parents. She identifies herself as a second generation Korean, but tries her best to keep her identity as a Korean.

Irene told me her folklores in a casual setting. We were spending time together and I just randomly asked her to share any folklore she had.

Step on a Grave

“When I go visit my dad at the grave, I always tell my cousins to not step on other people’s graves or else the spirits will haunt them. But I mostly tell my cousins this because they never listen and step on anything.”

Vanessa Marquez is another co-worker of mine. She is a married 27 year old. She was born in Mexico and came to the United States as a child. These folk stories were shared to me during break at work in a casual setting.

With this specific folk story, Vanessa actually kind of made it up in order to get her child cousins to listen. Spirits will not necessarily haunt these children, but because they do not listen if they are told to not step on the graves, she had to scare them somehow and this was what she came up with.

When I heard this, I did not know if I should include it in my project because it wasn’t necessarily something she’s heard before, or something she grew up with since she made it up, but I decided to include it because it is still a folklore that she started. Because these children hear about this, they will now listen and possibly pass it onto their younger cousins or children in the future.