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The Korean Fortune Telling Market Reaches a Crossroads Updated: 2011-06-02 00:00:00 KST

Fortune telling is the practice of predicting one's future.

It is becoming increasingly popular these days, leading the Korean fortune telling market to diversify and change.

The market of fortune telling experiences a boom during times of uncertainty!

[Interview : Im Ji-su, Seoul Resident] "I go see a fortune teller every six months. I think people go to fortune tellers when they're going through hardships and want to hear that something good will happen in the future."

[Interview : Kong Min-ji, Seoul resident] "People are curious about their future, even though knowing about it now won't necessarily help them. If they hear a good fortune, it comforts them, but if they hear a bad fortune, they become cautious in their activities."

At a fortune telling shop in Seoul,

this gentle-looking shaman is reading other people's fortunes.

She is Hana Bosal, a new-generation fortune teller in her twenties.

[Interview : Lee Hyeon-mi, Customer] "I came here to find out more about my family's health, my relationship with my boyfriend and my work. I want to ask a lot of questions about my life."

[Interview : Lee Jeong-hun, Customer] "Fortune telling is not exact, but I feel better after having my fortune read."

Muism is a form of Korean traditional shamanism that dates from the Joseon Dynasty.

Muism connects people with the spiritual world, and it comes in many forms, holding great value as Korean folk culture.

[Interview : Lee Wol-gyu, Fortune teller] "Fortune telling in Korea has been practiced since long ago to predict the future. With time, fortune telling came to be considered
as a superstition and non-scientific. However, because people will always be curious about the future, there will always be someone who will study divination to attempt to see into the future."

Muism is breaking out of its traditional roots.

In today's connected world, maintaining a webpage is mandatory for any business or service.

More and more people are signing up for consultations online

[Interview : Hana Bosal, Shaman] "Some people post messages or questions online. Since people who live overseas cannot visit me in person, I consult with them over the phone, and I sometimes go abroad for consultations."

[Interview : Hana Bosal, Shaman] "Since being a shaman is also a full-time job, I have to take the time to manage my customers."

At a fortune telling shop in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province,

a male shaman is busy getting ready. He puts on the finishing touches of his makeup.

[Interview : Beodul Doryeong, Shaman] "Hello. My name Beodul Doryeong, and I'm the medium of the 10,000 spirits of Hwanghae Island. It's nice to meet you."

Beodul Doryeong reads people's fortunes, just like any other fortune teller.

However, he does not present himself as a scary and dramatic fortune teller.

[Interview : Beodul Doryeong, Shaman] "As shamans are becoming more modern, I feel that I have to keep what makes me unique and use that to appeal to my customers. I especially want to work on my appearance, I dye, perm or cut my hair, or let it grow long."

Beodul Doryeong uses rice, brass coins, bells, and other tools to communicate with the spirits.

He conveys his readings as if he was advising a close friend over certain issues, gaining him many young customers.

[Interview : Beodul Doryeong, Shaman] "People's views on shamans may have changed, but prejudices still exist. These prejudices make my job harder, so I always try to get rid of them."

Shamanic supplies are also going under developments.

One particular item is sought after by many shamans these days.

[Interview : Seo Soon-cheol, Shop owner] "Many young shamans come in for these character droplets. They have animal-shaped icons on them."

To think that shamanic items never go through trends and fads is a misconception.

Today's items are more colorful, stylish and pleasing to the eye.

[Interview : Seo Soon-cheol, Shop owner] "Shamanic items today are more attractive these days. This is so that people coming to have their fortunes told won't be as intimidated."

This cafe near a university in Seoul is filled with female customers.

The popularity of the cafe is due to its fortune telling service.

[Interview : PD] "Where are you from[Interview : Orito Mieko, Tourist
Japan] "I'm from Japan."

[Interview : Rieko Rikeda, Tourist
Japan] "I am from Tokyo. People in Japan say that Korean fortune tellers are more accurate, and I enjoy being able to ask questions."

Once word of this cafe reached people in Japan, it became a popular destination for many Japanese tourists.

[Interview : ] "You will be wealthy."

After the readings, it's time for the respective commemorative photos.

[Interview : Mizue Ikeda, Tourist
Japan] "In Japan, readings are done in a one-to-one setting, and that can be very uncomfortable. But in Korea, it's nicer because I can get my fortunes told in a more comfortable surrounding."

The cafe also accepts payments in Japanese yen, adding to the tourists' convenience.

The comfortable and warm atmosphere has also influenced in boosting the cafe's profits.

[Interview : Shin Seung-yeol, Owner of the fortune-telling cafe] "Foreign tourists not only raise our profits, but also establish our cafe as a tourist spot."

In order to provide the best service, the fortune tellers in this cafe put in a lot of efforts.

Whenever they have time, they strive to improve their fluency in Japanese.

The fortune tellers constantly study Japanese to provide fluent consultations

[Interview : Park Min-jae, Fortune teller] "I have to study different cultures, because I will have to meet with a variety of people. To study a culture, I have to study the language."

Korean shamans and fortune tellers keep our traditional culture alive and in sync with today's modern culture.

It will continue to change and develop for many more years to come.


Well there are certainly a variety of ways to get a glimpse into your future.

And it sure looks like these mudangs have found ways to fuse ancient customs with the modern surroundings. It’s old meets new really.
I've heard of these cafes where you could get your fortune read and they're very popular among girls.

And apparently the really well-known fortune readers are always in high demand and command top prices.
But, I think here in Korea, this is more of a culture than religion.

Yup. There's something unique about Korean fortune telling that you can only really find out by experience yourself, so that's something else to think about doing if you're coming to Korea.
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