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.
IC: Can you tell me about tae-mong?
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 know?
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 usually correct?
M: It was right for me, but for some people it’s wrong. For girls it’s something small and pretty like flowers.
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.