General Information about Item:
- Customary Folklore: Korean Superstition (Bad luck)
- Language: English
- Country of Origin: Korea
- Informant: A.A.
- Date Collected: November 10, 2018
A.A. was born in Seoul, South Korea where he lived with his grandparents in the middle of the country. When he was three years old, J. moved to Tijuana, Mexico, before eventually immigrating to the United States and settling down in the Los Angeles, California area. Currently, J. is Junior undergraduate student at Dartmouth College. He is double majoring in Psychology and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies.
- Social Context:
Whenever J. and his family would get together for dinner, one of the foods that they would consume often is rice. As J. finished his meal, he put down his chopsticks and placed them upright in the bowl in front of him. His mother, who noticed this, quickly grabbed the chopsticks out of the bit of rice left in the bowl and placed them on the table. She scolded J. for his actions and told him to never put his chopsticks in his rice bowl in the upright position. Confused, J. asked his mother why she did that. She explained that by putting the chopsticks upright, he was attracting ghosts and other unclean spirits into the house because it is reminiscent of incense that gets laid out for the dead. Frightened, J. never puts his chopsticks in a rice bowl in the upright position.
Korean cultures focus a lot on life after death and the soul of a person. This superstition is one that is true to belief as many Koreans still believe this today. Koreans believe that even after death, spirits and ghosts have the ability to come back to earth and live amongst living humans. Incense is one of the ways that spirits can come back to the world and communicate with people.
- One is cursed with evil ghosts and spirits as a result of putting chopsticks in a bowl of rice in the upright position. This is thought to be symbolic of incense, which is used to attract spirits and ghosts back to the world. By doing this improper action, the person is inviting unclean spirits and ghosts into their home, and causing bad luck to themselves.
Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):
Chopsticks in a Rice Bowl
- The superstition of the evil eye is the most common Korean superstition that is still believed and practiced today. It resembles a deep spiritual belief in the afterlife. This is also an example of magic superstition.
Collector’s Name: Clay Han
- Korean. Superstition. Chopsticks. Rice Bowl. Magic Superstition.