Calling out @T @GRETA, and any other Korean-American Listers who feel me.
  1. Background
    I’m not sure why it is, but my parents’ generation was driven by fear. Maybe it was because of emigration. Moving halfway around the world to a foreign land can certainly make someone circumspect. Or it was the predatory Korean media, fueling their postwar anxiety. Korea was virtually a third-world country when they were kids, so it's understandable. All these factors, stirred with Shamanism, Confucian ideals, and deep-rooted national legends, have resulted in some pretty entertaining folklore.
  2. Fan death
    This is the best one. If you leave an electric fan on in an enclosed room, YOU WILL DIE. Leading theory is asphyxiation from the oxygen blowing away from your face. My dad also said our nerves would paralyze (BTW my dad is a PHYSICIAN). Slumber parties at Matt Garrison’s house were nightmarish. After all the kids would fall asleep, I’d watch the ceiling fan spin like a grim reaper’s scythe, feeling the air slowly vaccuum out of the room. There's an entire Wiki for this:
  3. Drowning in riptides
    This is hardest for my dad, having three sons who surf. He - along with most of his friends, and almost every native Korean dad I’ve met - tell cautionary tales of riptides and ruthless undertow. Growing up, our family dinners revolved around story after another of watching friends get dragged into dark sea currents. It’s super weird to me, but most Koreans will claim to have one childhood friend who died at the hands of the ocean underworld.
  4. "I was top of my class."
    This is the Korean equivalent of “I hiked 6 miles in the snow - to get to school - both ways.” Except every Korean dad claims to have been the smartest student in school, raking in top test scores and winning national acclaim. Koreans are built with pride; instead of holding onto football trophies or popularity winnings like an American parent might, their success is scaled by academic accomplishments.
  5. "We are the best Kims"
    Speaking of pride… You may have noticed that every other Korean you’ve met has “Kim” as a last name. Roughly a quarter of Koreans on the planet share the same last name. That’s because there were originally a few Kim clans that kicked this whole thing off, and there are now 348 Kim lineages. The thing is, though, that every Kim will claim that theirs is the most important, most royal, most top of their class, most unaffected by electric fans.
  6. Dust
    This isn’t necessarily mythology, but Koreans have an irrational aversion to dust. There is nothing worse to them than tracking soot into the house, dusty windowsills, or stomping around in the dirt. Again, I don’t know what this is or where it comes from, but it’s made me totally OCD and Larry David-ish as a grown man (Koreans are the Jews of the Orient- another List on this later)
  7. Writing in red
    If you write someone’s name in red ink, pencil, even crayon, he/she will die. This one actually works.
  8. Shaking/tapping your foot or leg incessantly is "you shake the good luck all out of you!" SLAP 👋🏽💥😫 STOP THE SHAKING!!!
    Suggested by @T
  9. I couldn't trim my nails at night... Because then the ghosts would come haunt me 👻
    Suggested by @T
  10. If you have a mole (White people call a "beauty mark"), get it removed immediately. It's bad luck. Especially on the face. If it's under, near your eye... OMG. "You will be a sad soul...forever". 😢
    Suggested by @T
  11. When a Korean (but really, this means all of you women!) are pregnant, do not watch scary or sad movies. If you do, your baby will be jacked up.
    You know- stick to Mary Poppins and Dumb & Dumber! 😃
    Suggested by @T
  12. After giving birth, you may not shower for a month. Yup- A MONTH. Why?!
    I forget. My mom mumbled the reasons... As I got in the shower, as soon as I was mobile from my emergency-C section. It had to do with my health. That I would be stronger (?!) and not get sick from the soap and water (?!) if I kept the freakin birth and hospital germs on me. 😷
    Suggested by @T
  13. Immediately after you give birth, you eat seaweed soup 24/7. That's it.
    It's either a clear beef broth or Ive had and love the scallop/anchovy broth. Tons of silky seaweed strips... With a little rice. You eat this for weeks on end... I think it's for the vitamin A and iron that new moms need replenishing? I liked this soup, so I ate gallons. This made my parents happy... Phew. But now I can barely handle the sight of it. Oh! And don't you dare drink anything cold. No icy cold, refreshing ANYTHING! Bad for mommy and baby's breast milk.
    Suggested by @T
  14. Don't walk around the house barefoot without slippers or socks or you will catch a life threatening illness.
    I'm always warm unlike my shivering with cold mom and sister. Maybe it's bc I'm always eating and so my body is always metabolizing? Whatever, I'm awesome. And I do not need house slippers, dad! Take a wild guess who was always begging for a fan at night but had to suffer silently bc instant fan death.
    Suggested by @GRETA
  15. If you bite your nails you'll end up with worms in your butt.
    Incredibly, I didn't grow up to be a hypochondriac. My dad is a doctor who practices western medicine but he still has some questionable beliefs. Anyway most of his concerns were w/r/t health. Before my siblings and I taught my dad the western custom of saying "LOVE YOU" at the end of phone calls, he'd sign off with "#1 IS YOUR HEALTH." But what he means is parasites are everywhere.
    Suggested by @GRETA
  16. XYZ gives you cancer
    Maybe this is just my semi-hypochondriac parents but every time I visit them they tell me about a new food, type of sunblock, random fabric material, etc. that is supposedly linked to cancer and strongly suggest that I avoid it entirely. "The Korean Newspaper" is always cited, though I've never really read through said newspaper to verify their claims.
    Suggested by @rachel
  17. You or someone you know dying in your dream is a good thing.
    I remember having a terrifying nightmare as a kid about dying or a relative dying, being upset and telling my mother, and her just getting excited and speculating what good thing would happen to that person and telling me to shake it off.
    Suggested by @rachel
  18. @T on the flip side DON'T eat seaweed soup before a big exam.
    I still don't understand the reason behind this but it will make you sleepy or forgetful or something. Also how telling is it that there's a superstition specifically about prepping for exams?
    Suggested by @rachel
  19. We are the best Lee's in Korea. And I'm pretty much a Korean princess.
    Suggested by @GRETA
  20. If you wear red nail polish it means you're a prostitute.
    Historically my moms favorite - she's since gotten into nail art so this one no longer applies.
    Suggested by @GRETA
  21. Don't whistle at night
    There's more ghosts where those toenail chompers 👻 came from!!!
    Suggested by @sungbum15
  22. If someone compliments your child, immediately deny it and go as far as saying the opposite. Example:
    Suggested by @IHJ
  23. This ones more of a parental tactic vs an actual folklore but: if you cry then laugh, you'll grow hair on your butt. This one comes as a catchy jingle.
    Suggested by @IHJ
  24. When eating that fried fish side dish that comes complimentary with most jjigaes/soondooboo: don't flip it over when trying to get the meat cause if you do, a poor fisherman's boat flips over in the sea.
    Suggested by @IHJ
  25. Another thing with the slippers for all us Korean women, always wear slippers in the house cause if you don't, your chronically cold feet will make you infertile.
    Suggested by @IHJ
  26. Friend: your daughters so pretty. Parent: oh no she's not. Her head is too big for her body. I think it has some kind of shamanistic history behind it to prevent your kid from garnering attention from evil spirits?
    Suggested by @IHJ