Fortune telling is practiced in all cultures since ancient times worldwide including in Korean culture (한국 문화). Even though Korea is primarily a modern society (현대 사회), fortune telling continues to be popular among young and old. They like fortune telling for knowing future problems and their solutions and as a form of entertainment.
Some fortune telling systems in Korea are unique to a region (종교), whereas others are similar to those found elsewhere. Soothsayers for these are available anywhere in Seoul and basically everywhere else. Predictive methods of fortune telling (운세 보는 방법) in Korean culture are widely diverse and quite unique.
Tarot Card Reading (타로 카드)
Tarot cards (타로 카드) have been in vogue since the 15th century in many parts of the world and have become popular in Korea in the last few decades for fortune telling. In tarot card fortune telling, before drawing cards from the ancient deck you can either ask a specific question or request for a general fortune telling. The tarot card reader, based on the cards drawn from the deck, each having a specific meaning (특별한 의미), interprets and formulates an answer.
Education (교육), employment (구직), life partner (결혼), fortune and crossroads in life are common worries of people who consult tarot readers. Other instances are: auspicious date of marriage, the launch of a new venture, compatibility check before marriage and even some politicians (정치인) turn to clairvoyants for guidance and to have their fates outlined.
Palm Reading (손금 읽기)
Palm reading (손금 읽기) is another kind of Korean traditional divining art. It is considered as a science, in addition to astrology, that was studied by the ancients and is being used until today. Followers and believers of palmistry have the conviction that the lines on the palm and features of the hands describe your life as well as your destiny. The lines on the palm and fingers depict one’s life and events.
They conclude and predict one’s fortune from the lines (금), their positions (위치), shapes (모양), depth (깊이) and colours (색).
Saju (사주) is the Korean way of fortune telling and it literally means ‘four pillars’. These four pillars are determined by your four birth numbers: the year (년), the month (월), the day (일) and the hour (시간) and Koreans believe that the exact time of birth holds the key to one’s destiny (운명). If you’ve heard the Korean word for destiny, 팔자 (palja) it means ‘eight characters’ and is directly related to the belief in saju.
For each of the four pillars in saju (사주), there are two characters that represent either the heaven (하늘) or the earth (땅) giving each human being a total of eight characters (8 글자).
Where To Go For Fourtune Telling / Tarot Reading In Seoul?
There are a lot of places in Seoul where you can go for fortune reading or tarot reading. Marronnier Park in Hyehwa, Shopping Street in Hongdae and Tapgol Park near Insadong are full of saju and tarot cafés and booth and are often visited by young people and couples. Do note that many of the readers do not speak English so if you are not able to communicate in Korean it’s advisable to bring along a friend that can, or find a café with a sign on the door confirming that they speak English.
There are places where you can pre-book a visit like Fun Saju Café in Hongdae. Here, interpretation services are offered alongside the fortune readings from fortune masters specialising in saju, face reading and palm reading. Eros Café near Ewha Womans University also offers readings in English. In operation for more than 20 years, Eros offers saju, palm reading, tarot and face reading services. To ensure that an English-speaking interpreter is available on your day of choice, it’s better to call in advance to make a reservation.
We hope that this was an insightful post for all of you. Feel free to share this blog to any of your friends who are interested in the fortune telling / tarot cards reading scene here in Korea!