Proverb/Superstition – Korean

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean-American
Age: 17
Occupation: Student
Residence: Glendora, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: May 2007
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English

Don’t give shoes as a gift, or else the person will leave you.

Jaywon first heard this phrase from her mother, who has always told her not to give shoes as a gift.  She says that giving shoes to somebody will cause them to walk away from you.  She also says that the giving of shoes is like giving them feet to leave.

This proverb has turned into a superstition, which is why it is listed as both.  Though it originates as a proverb, it is also a superstition.  It has become wrong to give somebody shoes or else it will cause the bad luck of them leaving you.  The stereotype is that Korean women are known to be submissive and the Korean men are known to be controlling.  It is understandable that the Korean women do not want their husbands to leave them, especially if they are dutiful to their husbands.  Thus, a mother tells her daughter to never have her husband leave her.  This action can be avoided by never giving shoes as a present.

This proverb originated as Korean, but being a second-generation Korean-American, Jaywon retold it in English.  It is a proverb because it expresses a truth and is popularly said and repeated in the Korean culture.  Proverbs are a part of folklore because they are widely known across a particular culture and spread from generation to generation.  A mother teaching her daughter about being subservient through proverbs is a very common way for proverbs to be passed down.  The practicality and ease of the proverb makes it very easy to keep in the culture.  Also, the use of proverbs is a way to teach younger generations about the culture and the way that one is supposed to act.  The Korean culture is very traditional and follows these proverbs as rules.  The Koreans, like many other cultures, have their own proverbs and superstitions of how to avoid bad luck. Simple tasks such as avoiding shoes as gifts are easy ways to ensure good luck and a prosperous life.