Urban legends about doppelgänger

The informant is Korean American. She was born and raised in California. She has been to Korea only for few months. She went to schools in the States.’


Superstition:  If you encounter your doppelgänger, it’s an warning of death for both you and your twin.


Informant: “A doppelgänger is an exact replica of  yourself.  Looking at your doppelgänger is like looking at an mirror. It’s claimed that there are three people with exact appearances on earth. That means you would have two doppelgängers on this planet.”

“The urban legend says encountering a doppelgänger is an omen for death. One version of the legend says you die the day you encounter a doppelgänger. Other version says the day you die depends on how close you stood with the doppelgänger. Thus, you should run for life when you see a replica of yourself. There is an argument that you die from suicide once you encounter a doppelgänger, because of serious mental illness.”

“I think this urban legend came up as one of the scary stories my friends and I shared back in high school. The thought of someone who looks exactly like me gave me shivers. It was just creepy.”


A doppelgänger is a exact look-alike or double of a living person. Encountering one’s doppelgänger is considered as a paranormal activity, that can not be explained by reasoning. It was discussed in numbers of literatures historically, and it was usually discussed with a notion of terror and death. However, there are modern cases which people claim to have encountered their doppelgängers and after all remain alive. Of course, the validity of their arguments depends on the question of what a real doppelgänger is. Those people provide “same” appearances as an evidence, but in many cases they are considered more as a strong look-alike. How similar should the appearances be in order to say they are doppelgängers to each other? There is no standard.

The urban legend of doppelgängers originated from Germany. I don’t exactly know how the story came to the states, but it is certainly a compelling story that fascinates people, including writers. Adgar Ellen Poe, a famous American author, poet, editor, and literary critic, tells a story of encountering a doppelgänger in his short story “William Wilson,” in which main character eventually dies.