One of my co-workers was talking about Friday the 13th and how this year was very unlucky because there were 3 Friday the 13th’s in 2009. Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah, I get it. Koreans are superstitious, but I really do wonder why she believed in Friday the 13th? Isn’t there an Asian equivalent?Friday the 13th is one of those superstitions that everybody knows about, yet the origins are still pretty unknown. You can snoop around Google if you really want to get a look at what some people think, but it doesn't really matter. Maybe I'm wrong, but the fact that I had to look-up the origins of the date suggests that I'm more aware of it only because of what happened at Camp Crystal Lake back in 1980 and since "Friday the 13th" is ranked in the top ten movie franchises of all time, there's no doubt that the slasher flick had some sort of effect on many Korean nationals from that generation as well. Simply put, eveybody in the globalized world is probably aware of the Jason's hockey mask (and Freddy's metal-clawed brown leather glove) as it has been referenced over and over again in pop culture.
As far as an Asian equivalent, I'm not sure. I don't know what all Asian people believe and I don't believe there's a Korean equal to such a day, but there are a few loosely related things that come to mind. I don't want to even begin to compile a list of Korean superstitions and myths myself, but maybe a few just get the conversation flowing.
The Number 4
While it's hard to say whether or not the number "4" is as universally feared or disliked in Korea as the number 13 is in some other nations, the fact that many elevators in Korea read 1...2...3...F...5... is at least an indication of its fearful roots. In the Chinese language, the word for "death" sounds just like the number "4" in the Korean language ("사") and since many cultural and lingual traits of China have trickled into Korean culture, it's no suprise that this one stuck. I wonder though, does China also omit the number 4 from elevators? I've been there, but I think the massive amount of Tsingtao blurred my elevator experiences. Or maybe I didn't have any.
Don't throw your fingernail clippings on the street. Otherwise, a rat (or mouse) will eat them and therefore consume a part of your soul. If you do happen to accidentally do such a thing, don't worry. All you have to do is get a cat to eat the fingernail-eating rat and BAM! -you've got your soul back. Of course no really buys into that, yet it's not too uncommon to see Koreans wrapping their clippings in a paper towel or toilet paper before disposing of them.
The Morning Spider
Never, ever, ever kill a spider before noon. If you do, brace for bad luck. Why? No idea, kiddos. I've just heard this one too many times not to mention it.
The Red Name
Anyone who has taught kids here has heard that writing someone's name in red suggests that they are dead. And if they are still alive, then it's bad luck. I used to do it just to get a rise out of some of the naughty kids, but don't have the chance to do so anymore.
Who else had heard some interesting superstitions? Oh, and I please no kimchi/fan death comments.