Thursday, August 23, 2012

Change Your Name; Change Your Luck

South Korea

Japanese tourist Kumi Nemoto (L) consults fortune-teller Ilwol-doryeong, 33, at Funny Sculptor Fortune-telling Cafe in Seoul November 19, 2010. Fortune-telling has permeated South Korea's youth culture in the form of ''saju,'' or ''fate,'' cafes, where fortune-tellers tell customers in very specific terms about their possible jobs and marriages. KOREA-FORTUNETELLING/ REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: SOCIETY)
South Korea's Fortune Tellers: At Funny Sculptor Fortune-telling Cafe in the capital of Seoul, a fortune-teller tells a young women her fate. "Fortune-telling has permeated South Korea's youth culture in the form of saju, or fate cafes, where fortune-tellers tell customers in very specific terms about their possible jobs and marriages," Reuters writes.
Photo Credit: Jo Yong-Hak, Reuters, 2010
Source: Reuters
A name has a meaning, and some persons like their birth names and some don't. In South Korea, however, both men and women are changing their names to change their destiny; for men, it's to better their fortunes, and for women to find a husband. In an article in Voice of America ("Trying to Catch 'Mr Right'"),  Jason Strother writes:
There is a belief in Korea that a name can determine one’s destiny. And, for many lonely hearted ladies as well as their parents, the hope is that by changing their name they will have a better chance at meeting that special someone for marriage.
For help with selecting a more virtuous name, some seek the advice of fortune-tellers or other "divinely inspired" mediums—like Tae-Eul, a shaman priest who consults clients from a shrine inside his Seoul apartment.
He says he asks the gods if a new name can be fulfilling for one’s life. Tae-Eul says his male clients want to change their name for better luck in making money, but women do it to find a soul mate.
Tae-Eul says a name can bring bad luck if the Chinese characters it is based on do not match with the person’s birth date. He says he has seen good results for those who have changed their names to more compatible ones.
More than 725,000 South Koreans have changed their names in the last decade, but there are no statistics on how many did so to improve their lives; and of course there are no statistics on the correlation between name-changing and improved fortunes. But this is not a scientific matter; it's an emotional and personal one. So, it's understandable that in a traditional culture like South Korea, where marriage and raising children is esteemed, women will do what is necessary to conform, which includes going to fortune tellers.

You can read the rest of the article at [Voice of America]


  1. When I taught in China, one of my students was a young woman who was quite active and energetic. Her parents felt her energy level was abnormally high, and so they changed her given name to Man, meaning "slow." I don't know what she was like before the name change, but when I knew her she certainly wasn't slow.
    It is sad that so many South Koreans believe in magic.

    1. Yes, it is. It's also interesting that in some Hasidic Jewish circles, it is customary, when a person is ill, to add another name in addition to his given one(s), with the intention of fooling the Angel of Death. I doubt that anyone is fooled, least of all "Death."

  2. “There is a belief in Korea that a name can determine one’s destiny.”---This is true. I have a Korean friend who told me all about it. They’re really concerned about what their life will be, especially when it comes to their career and marriage. So, you can’t blame them if they really decide to change their name. After all, it’s their principles and it’s part of their customs.

    Kimora Avery


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