May 14, 2012

Time for a Few Korean Urban Legends

Each and every cultures boasts their own share of urban legends and scary stories. who wouldn't want to hear a few? so today I would like to focus on the wonderful country of Korea. 
The scary one are almost always the same
Koreans have their own traditional ways and culture that dates back long ago, it is not surprising that we are able to see urban legends that had survived up until the modern age. Apart from the usual unmarried girl/guy still haunting beyond the grave and girls who are nine-tailed-foxes in disguise, there are also new stories to enjoy too, Here are my three faves and let us start with the weird one:

Fan Death 
Oh no, Kpop has nothing to do with this. It is all what you read. Literally dying because of electric fans.
Here is an excerpt from a korean english language newspaper, Korea Herald June 28, 1997:

"The heat wave which has encompassed Korea for about a week, has generated various heat-related accidents and deaths. At least 10 people died from the effects of electric fans which can remove oxygen from the air and lower body temperatures. . . .
On Friday in eastern Seoul, a 16-year-old girl died from suffocation after she fell asleep in her room with an electric fan in motion. The death toll from fan-related incidents reached 10 during the past week. Medical experts say that this type of death occurs when one is exposed to electric fan breezes for long hours in a sealed area. "Excessive exposure to such a condition lowers one's temperature and hampers blood circulation. And it eventually leads to the paralysis of heart and lungs," says a medical expert.
"To prevent such an accident, one should keep the windows open and not expose oneself directly to fan air," he advised."

Red Ink
I don not think this as literally 'urban legend', but i find this quite interesting. In Korean culture, writing a name in red (or sometimes pink and purple) ink means that someone is dead or dying, or that anyone seeing the said color immediately thinks of blood and death. This custom is especially used during funerals... Or maybe if you plan to scare a Korean someday.

Of course, drawing, writing lists of groceries or whatever in the said color is acceptable but writing someone else's name who is currently breathing, is considered as an insult, whether the said person is superstitious or not.

Well ever heard of Cockroach Facial Craze that has been sweeping Japan and Korea more than three years ago? It was cockroaches being ued in a facial cream and promises beauty. Apparently, there is an urban legend consisting of the insect and a human face that the blog daily-korean-stuff shared:

"One guy had some pretty bad acne/smallpox scars on his face. He was desperate to cure it and was ready to try anything to get rid of those scars. So he went to a shaman/fortune-teller who told him about a very special method. If he could find a cockroach before going to bed, he would just have to put it next to his pillow before sleeping. Sleeping with the cockroach by his face would most surely make his scars go away. So the guy did like he was told.
The next day, he wakes up, looks in the mirror and realizes a lot of his scars are actually gone! But on closer inspection, he sees that the scar holes are not gone, they just have been filled with small cockroach eggs."

Oh oh, and may I add? Imagine what would happen when those egg'll hatch

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