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Luck In Korea

By: Felix Howton

Korea, like most nations, has its fair share of everyday superstitious beliefs that cannot be completely attributed to a single religion but still prove common practices in everyday life. While the majority of Koreans today are Christian, Buddhist, or non-religious, most modern superstitions can still be traced to Muism, the traditional folk religion of Korea. When traveling in Korea, it is common to see the letter “F” in place of the number “4” to represent the fourth floor on elevators because the number 4 is a symbol of bad luck, representing misfortune and death. Another common superstition exists around writing one's name in red ink; in Korea, many believe that this action brings bad luck and failure upon the individual whose name is inscribed. In an increasingly competitive educational environment, many traditional superstitions have become more common in regard to test taking. Eating sticky food, such as rice cakes, before an exam is thought to bring good luck, while eating slippery foods can bring bad luck. Shaking your legs, typically a sign of nervousness, is thought to bring bad luck and signify lost opportunities. While these superstitions may seem unrelated, they all originate from the traditional belief in ancestral spirits that play a role in controlling the fortune of their descendants, good or bad.

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