Superstition – Korea


“Whistling at night attracts evil spirits.”

Paul learned this superstition from his father when he was 9 years old.  He remembers the instance when he picked it up and to this day, he follows it religiously. He recalls a night when he was trying to sleep.  His dad came in to his room to say goodnight, and heard Paul whistling from his bed.  His dad, with a serious expression on his face, ordered him to stop.  He told him that his father passed this superstition onto him when he was little, but he wanted to be tough and he didn’t listen.  He said he was home alone one night when he was in his early teens and he started to whistle.  That night he had a traumatic experience. He wouldn’t give Paul any further details but begged him not to whistle at night.  In talking to me, Paul has no idea why this superstition exists, or where it originally comes from (his father was born in Korea, he was born here in L.A.).  He also has no idea if his father was just pulling his leg, or if he really had “an experience” with an evil spirit because he refuses to tell him.  Paul suggested a potential background on the superstition, “Koreans are really afraid of the dark.  Someone one day decided that making as little noise at night was the best way to keep evil forces away.”

Whatever the significance of the superstition, Paul swears by it.  He loves to whistle, but when the sun comes down, he refuses to, especially when he is alone.  I interviewed him on campus at Leavey Library at about 8PM, and he told me that in his short bike ride back to his fraternity house on 28th street, he wouldn’t even think of whistling, not even for a second.  In interviewing him, I was not at all surprised that he abides by the superstition to the extent that he does.  Personally, I am a big believer in superstition; when I lose an eyelash I always make a wish, and I refuse to walk under a ladder.  Paul similarly has lived his life never whistling at night after learning about the superstition.  I find it funny how nobody knows why any of these superstitions exist, but because we were raised believing that they are true, we always abide by them.