The podcast is one year old! We break down the year and discuss Korean first birthday traditions, folklore, and spirits. We also regale mysterious births in Korean history.

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Music by Soraksan

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  • It’s our birthday! Dark Side is a year old. Thanks
  • Some stats 
    • 53 episodes (including this one)
    • Cho Doosoon most downloaded episode
  • Our favourite episodes
    • Shawn: Exorcism, Korean Folktale Types
    • Joe: Episodes that made me research nagging questions I’d always had
      • History
      • Korean Disneyland
      • 2011 Landslide
      • Dynamited bridge on start of Korean War
      • Landmarks episodes (11 Haunted Places, 8 Weird Landmarks)
  • Birthdays in culture
    • Koreans celebrate Buddha’s birthday and Jesus’s birthday
    • Ancestor birthdays were celebrated (saengshin-jae)
    • During delivery
      • red peppers and pine boughs hung to ward off evil
      • red ribbons hung and soil scattered to pray for easy delivery
    • 100 days 한고비
      • b/c infant mortality rate was high
      • 100 ddeok must be given to 100 people in order to live 100 years
        • But not to beggars or children
        • Baekseolgi – flawlessly white to represent divinity and longevity
        • also red bean cake to chase away evil spirits and wishes for healthy growth
        • Injeolmi – grow firmly
        • Osaeksongpyeon 
          • Harmony
          • Filled and solid for a wide heart
      • Must wear clothes made from 100 pieces of cloth from 100 homes
    • 1 year – 2nds 고비
    • BUT — A child should not eat any of these commemorative cakes
      • They will die
      • Children should not eat any ritual foods
      • Originally, the rice cakes were for ghostly consumption, not human
      • Spirits don’t attach themselves to everyday foods, but they’re attached to foods associated with thanking them
  • Childbearing Deity
    • Samshin – household deity (most often female)
      • Oversees birth and growth
      • Can be the spirit of an ancestor
      • Worshipped on day of child’s birth
        • Offerings of miyeok-guk, rice, and water
    • Cheol-ryoong – household deity also related to children
      • Keeps peace for children and home
      • Highly regional worship traditions
        • Strict worship traditions
        • Ceasing worship results in misfortune
  • Child Selling (ai-palgi)
    • Child born with misfortune (weak, ill, believed to have short lifespan) given to quasi-foster parent
      • Foster parent could be natural object, deity, monk, or shaman
    • Believed to reverse child’s misfortune
    • Performed from birth to as late as seven years old


  • Ushering Off the Placenta (taechae)
    •  Placenta was considered sacred, needed proper ritual disposal
      • Wrapped and stored with care, often near Samshin shrine
      • Often burned; ashes washed away or buried
      • Someone must guard the placenta at all times, even while burning
        • Placenta could be stolen for use in folk medicine, especially in concoctions to induce pregnancy; placentas were thought to contain curative powers  
        • A stolen, eaten (by animals), or damaged placenta could bring misfortune to the baby (taeju)
        • Other taboos: keeper should blow on the fire or warm themselves with the fire
      • Sometimes buried
        • Placenta was buried under a tree so the child would grow like the tree
      • Disposing the placenta should be inconspicuous
      • Nobility and upperstatus enshrined placentas
        • Royal Placenta Chambers of King Sejong
          • Sejo destroyed a few of these
  • Mystical births
    • Bihyeong (6th cen.)
      • Normal birth, but born to a commoner and the ghost of King Jinji
    • Wonhyo (7th cen.)
      • Multicoloured clouds covered skies when born
    • Gung-ae (9th cen.)
      • Founder of Taebong (Late Goguryeo)
      • Rainbow over house; full set of teeth; scales
    • Gyeon Hwon (9th cen.)
      • Founder of Late Baekjae
      • Mother had contact with a man who turned into a snake (or worm)
      • Drank tiger’s milk as a child
    • Yi Soon-shin (16th cen.)
      • Father killed a Imugi; two butterflies from the corpse – sons were born; one had shifty eyes, the other calm eyes; father killed the shifty eyed one; the calm eyed one was Yi 

Horror movies

    • The Omen
    • Happy Birthday to Me
    • Demons 2
    • Madhouse
    • Spookies