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Lesson Transcript

INTRODUCTION
Becky:
Hello and welcome to Culture Class: Korean Superstitions and Beliefs. Lesson 5 A Shoe Gift and Stepping in Feces. I'm Becky and I'm joined by Jaehwi.
Jaehwi:
안녕하세요. (annyeonghaseyo) Hi, I'm Jaehwi.
THE TWO SUPERSTITIONS
Becky:
In this lesson we will talk about two common superstitions in South Korea. The first superstition is about bad luck. What's the superstition called in Korean?
Jaehwi:
신발 선물, (sinbal seonmul).
Becky:
Which literally means "shoes as a gift." Jaehwi, can you repeat the Korean phrase again?
Jaehwi:
[slow] 신발 선물 [normal] 신발 선물
Becky:
In Korea, it's believed that giving shoes to your girlfriend or boyfriend will make him or her run away.
Jaehwi:
It's because they can use the shoes to leave you.
Becky:
For that reason, Korean people don't give shoes as a gift to their loved one.
Jaehwi:
Take them out to a nice dinner instead.
Becky:
So Jae, if I want to break up with a Korean guy, I should buy him shoes?
Jaehwi:
Um, maybe just talk to him instead.
Becky:
The second superstition is about good luck. What's the superstition called in Korean?
Jaehwi:
똥 밞기, (ttong balkki).
Becky:
Which literally means "stepping in feces." Let’s hear it in Korean again.
Jaehwi:
[slow] 똥 밞기 [normal] 똥 밞기
Becky:
When I step in poop, it usually ruins my day and my shoes. But apparently in Korea, this is a good thing.
Jaehwi:
Right. In Korea, it's believed that if you step in poop, it will bring you luck.
Becky:
It's because manure was valuable in agricultural societies.
Jaehwi:
So, still to this day, feces symbolizes money and luck.
Becky:
Ok, so if my Korean boyfriend steps in something, he’ll have good luck, but I shouldn’t buy him new shoes or he’ll run away.
Jaehwi:
You got it!

Outro

Becky:
There you have it - two Korean superstitions! Are they similar to any of your country’s superstitions? Let us know in the comments!
Jaehwi:
안녕히 계세요. (annyeonghi gyeseyo)

5 Comments

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KoreanClass101.com
Wednesday at 6:30 pm
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Do you know any other Japanese superstitions?

Monday at 9:15 pm
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Hi Colin,

If you two are very close and they say it in a joking way in a funny situation, then they may just be kidding around and telling you that you’re a bit of a ’smartypants’. But unless you are really close, it could be taken in a negative context so I wouldn’t really use this expression unless it is to someone with whom you can say whatever and know that they won’t take it seriously.

Cheers,
Lyn
Team KoreanClass101.com

Colin
Saturday at 6:06 am
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Interesting. The person who says this is someone I am very close with and I know that they mean no harm/ill will. Could it be used in an endearing/joking way?

Friday at 6:28 pm
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Hi Colin,

Thank you for posting. If someone said 재수없어 to you then that would not be a positive reaction, nor would it be a polite one. Originally, 재수 means luck, so 재수없어 would literally mean, unlucky. However in recent days, it has become a ‘negative’ slang which means something like ‘that sucks’.

Please let us know if you have any other inquiries.
Best,
Lyn
Team KoreanClass101.com

Colin
Wednesday at 5:20 pm
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When you tell a corny joke/say something ridiculous, and someone reacts by saying 재수 없어 what does it mean?