Age: Early 50s
Residence: South Korea
Date of Performance/Collection: April 13th
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English
The following is translation of a conversation with my mom, identified here
as M, in Korean about “tae-mong”, Korean conception dreams. I am identified as
IC: Can you tell me
M: Tae-mong is a
dream that you have either when you’re pregnant or about to be pregnant.
Usually it’s the pregnant woman that has the dream but sometimes it’s people
around you. When you have this dream, you usually know that it’s tae-mong
IC: How do you
M: It just feels a
little different. The dream is clearer and something big either comes at you or
you pick up something nice.
IC: Is there a
specific time frame for when you have tae-mong?
M: There isn’t a
specific time, but generally it’s in early or mid-pregnancy. But I had mine
before, for both you and your brother.
IC: What was the
dream for my brother?
M: I went to my in-law’s
place where your dad’s grandmother lived. So, She and I were walking when a
huge pig came towards me, bit my hand and didn’t let go. I screamed and
screamed and woke up. So, I thought, this is either a tae-mong or a dream
telling me to buy lottery. I wasn’t pregnant so I but the lottery which I didn’t
win. But two months later, I became pregnant. Also, what’s fascinating about
tae-mong is that when people hear it they guess the gender.
IC: How do they know?
M: Normally if it’s
a big or fierce animal, people say it’s a boy
IC: Is this guess
M: It was right for
me, but for some people it’s wrong. For girls it’s something small and pretty
IC: What was the
dream for me?
M: One day, I went
up a mountain and there was a small, spring pool that was filled with clean and
sparkly water. Inside, there were two small fish playing and I picked one up
and kept it.
Also, after I was
pregnant with your brother, my mother said that I would have two kids, one year
apart. I asked why and my mother said that she had a dream and there were two
puppies, similar in size—one little smaller than the other—ran to me.
IC: I see, that’s
cool. My brother and I are one year apart.
M: Right. And in
Korea, when you’re pregnant, people generally ask if you had a dream. When they
ask this, they’re referring to tae-mong. And typically, you just know that it’s
a tae-mong because you’re the center focus of the dream.
It is common for pregnant
Korean women to have conception dreams that relate to the gender of their baby.
My mom experienced this when she had me and my brother.
TThis was collected in an interview with my mom in a casual setting. I had remembered about my mom telling me about conception dreams before and I thought it would be interesting to ask her about it for this project.
Although the idea
of conception dreams to predict gender is interesting, I can’t help but think
that the basis for differentiating gender is a little outdated and somewhat
sexist. For boys, it’s a big and fierce animal like pigs, lions et cetera. But
for girls, it’s something small and sparkly, like small animals or jewels. Whether
it’s food, animals or flowers it’s always small for girls. I don’t know if this
is something in Western cultures or even other Asian cultures, but I think it’s
a unique tradition that Koreans have.