7 Superstitions That I Experienced Growing Up Half Korean

Growing up half Korean, I saw first hand how superstitions are a big deal in Korean culture. I can’t speak for everyone in Korea, but for my mother at least, there were certain things she wouldn’t do because of superstitions. Now, I personally don’t believe in superstitions. But when you are an impressionable child, then these superstitions tend to stick with you so that they become a part of life. You find yourself doing things to avoid them, just in case. There might not be any, or very little, proof that superstitions are real, but at the same time, you never know. In this article, I will tell you about 7 superstitions that I experienced growing up half Korean.

An American flag imposed hand shaking hands with a Korean flag imposed hand over the backdrop of a map of the world.
7 Superstitions That I Experienced Growing Up Half Korean

7 Superstitions That I Experienced Growing Up Half Korean

Using the red marker

A young student sitting at her desk writing something in a red marker.
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Growing up half Korean, whenever I used a red marker, I would get a frown and scolding from my mother. I would stare at her confused, wondering what the problem was with the color red. I mean, red is my favorite color. I love writing in red. But apparently, in the Korean culture, the color red symbolizes bad luck. In Korea, people write a deceased person’s name in red. Writing a person’s name in red means that you want them dead. Even today, I still get tinges of guilt whenever I use a red pen or marker to write something. That image of my mother’s face if she could see me doing this apparently evil act is hard to forget.

Fans can kill

A close up view of a rotating fan.
Photo by Alireza Kaviani on Pexels.com

A long time ago, my Korean grandmother warned me against the evils of fans. She told me a story of how one of her friends didn’t wake up because they went to sleep with a fan on and so they had oxygen deprivation. Ever since the telling of that story, I have been deathly scared of fans. Even to this day, I don’t sleep with a fan on. And when I do, I make sure that the window is open for proper ventilation. Just in case, because you never know.

Shaking legs

Someone is laying on the floor with their legs propped up on a table.
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My mother often noticed that Americans tend to shake their leg slightly when they are sitting down. She would always tell me that shaking the legs brought about bad luck. Apparently, according to Seoulistic, shaking the legs means that you are shaking all of your money off of you. So, it’s best to not do it, because otherwise you could end up losing all of your fortune.

Walking under ladders

A wooden ladder leaning against a bookshelf.
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I was always warned by my mother to never walk under a ladder. Obviously for the obvious reason of the danger of walking under one. Being the accident-prone person I am, I would be a likely candidate for accidently knocking the ladder over and then catastrophe and chaos would ensue.

The weather prophesizes the future

Five palm trees in front of the ocean during a sunrise.
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My mother would often say that the weather is a reflection of what is to come. For example, if it is sunny outside, then it is a very good omen and means that you will be prosperous. But if it is rainy outside, then it is a bad omen and bad luck is in your path. The day that I left home to go to college, my mother cited how beautiful the weather was (the sun was shining and it was hot) and said that that was an excellent omen. I could expect good luck in the future.

Eating seaweed soup on birthdays

An old woman holding a cake with her family members on either side of her. It is her 85th birthday.
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

On birthdays, my mom often made seaweed soup. She said that seaweed soup was healthy, chock full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and iron. I always assumed that eating it was a tradition. But then I did a little bit of research. I learned that mothers often ate seaweed soup after giving birth, believing that it helped a mother aid in breastfeeding their newborn, as well as helping their body to recuperate. I also learned that eating seaweed soup is not just about tradition but more about showing appreciation. It is about showing appreciation for who you are, and what you have become. But most importantly, it is a reminder of the person who gave you life.

Number 7 is lucky

The number 7.
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

My mother often said that the number seven is lucky. She never told me why, but stated it as if it was a fact. Of course, it’s not just in Korea that the number 7 is lucky. There are many instances of 7 in western culture, such as the 7 colors of the rainbow, the 7 continents, and the 7 days of the week. The number 7 is also the most magical number, according to the Harry Potter books anyway.


Growing up half-Korean, there were certain superstitions that still follow me to this day. I don’t want to believe in them, simply because there is no proof. And yet, I can’t help but believe just in case. Some of the superstitions are similar to that of western ones, like walking under a ladder or how the number seven is lucky. And some are very different from western superstitions, such as writing with a red pen equals death or fans can cause death. But whether or not they are similar, they are shaped who I am today. They made me out into a person who is cautious of red, scared of fans, and believes in the power of the number 7 and seaweed of course.

Do you believe in superstitions?

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Hi! I'm Helen and I am a 32 year old biracial millennial mom raising two multiracial children. I am a writer, English consultant, and social media manager. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic.

21 thoughts on “7 Superstitions That I Experienced Growing Up Half Korean

  1. When I was a kid there was one big one I followed. It was “step on a crack, break your mothers back.” As I walked to school I kept my eyes glued to the sidewalk so I wouldn’t step on one. Now that I’m grown like you, I still hear that rhyme in my head as I walk just about anywhere. Otherwise, I’m not really superstitious.

    1. That’s interesting!! It’s amazing how some of these superstitions can scare young kids from doing something they shouldn’t be doing or what the adults think they shouldn’t be doing. There must’ve been something awful associated with cracks back then lol

  2. An Old friend of mine and his wife lived in South Korea for a while, and Koreans were still weirded out about ceiling fans. He said that they believed that there was such a thing as fan gas. People did use ceiling fans in that country, but all the fans had timers that would make the fan turn off for a bit, every 15 minutes. This way, the fan gas can’t deplete anyone’s oxygen.

  3. It’s not a superstition, but I always associate red ink with bad news because teachers marked mistakes in red pen when I was in school.

  4. I heard about the red color superstition. When I was writing people’s names on a board with dry erase marker, I would use black or green or blue, even if these markers were drying out and red was the new marker. Then a different person walked into the room once and starting writing the names of people in the room with the red marker because it worked the best. The sight of people’s names in red was horrifying to me, as if the people whose names were on the board would drop dead or something.

  5. Oh wow these are interesting! I’ve been told a few superstitions too like if you whistle or sing at night, the witches will take your voice (they probably said this because I was so loud 😅)
    Another one is not to step over a person’s legs if you want to walk somewhere but they’re in your way. Reason being because they’ll stop growing 😂 thinking back to these things, I guess I was just a disrespectful kid that needed to hear lies to act politely! 😂

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