Tag Archives: funerary

Korean Superstition – The Ill at Funerals

“The physically ill in Korea do not attend funerals in fear that death will find them.”


My informant first heard about this superstition when about a decade ago, she was puzzled by her mother-in-law’s unwillingness to attend her (as in the mother-in-law’s) brother’s funeral.  When Gwi questioned her opposition to attending, her mother-in-law who is from the rural city of Daegu in Korea, explained that she was already ill.  Spirits at the funeral could sense an ill person’s presence and would follow her home.  She was afraid of the spirits following her after the funeral to take her with them, so she avoided going.  This kind of superstition is wide spread among the country folks in Korea.  They would never attend a funeral no matter how beloved the deceased was to them if they are ill because they believed the spirits would mark them as the next to die.

If I were battling a fatal disease, I would feel too vulnerable to go to such a gloomy and morbid ceremony.  Not necessarily that I believe spirits would follow me home, but I would be afraid to watch a funeral because death would just seem so real and closer to me.  However, I would still find the courage to attend a beloved’s funeral because perhaps I may find consolation in that death does not have to be so scary and remote as many people make it out to be.