Korean Superstitions

An infographic featuring illustrations of a brush with red paint, running shoes, and a pig in coins. Excerpted from Moon Living Abroad in South Korea. Infographic by Carrie Hirsch.

Behind South Korea’s modern veneer there are a number of beliefs handed down from antiquity that continue to hold sway. Here are some common superstitions to be aware of—and though they might seem irrational, so is discomfort with the number 13 or black cats.

  • Names in red: Avoid writing names (including your own) in red ink—this is the color traditionally used to write the names of the dead and could imply that you wish the person the same fate.
  • The number 4: As the number four shares the same pronunciation (“sa”) as the word for death in Korean, it has negative connotations, and in many buildings and elevators fourth floors are omitted altogether.
  • Running shoes: Shoes should never be given as a gift, particularly to a romantic partner, as shoes are designed for movement and will cause them to run away.
  • Lucky pigs: Pigs are a symbol of wealth and abundance, and if you’re lucky enough to dream of one, it means there’s some money headed your way—time to buy a lottery ticket perhaps?

Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Living Abroad in Korea. Infographic by Carrie Hirsch.

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