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Lesson Transcript

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.
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!


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)