Since this is October, the month of Halloween, I decided it would be prudent to tell you about the ghosts we encounter here. We don’t actually see them unless we are watching a movie, but we are told about them. I taught an English Conversation class at the university that went over really big because I created the course around “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. I rewrote it in easier English for them to read, and one of the exercises they had were to get into discussion groups and answer questions about their ideas on topics in the book, so they could have a discussion. If you have read “A Christmas Carol,” or seen the movie, you know that Scrooge is visited by a ghost, so ghosts become a big part of the topic of conversation in these discussion groups. I actually learned a lot about Oriental ghosts from my students when I was teaching this class, and I will share what I know about Oriental ghosts with you.
To begin with, scary movies are very popular in Korea. However, they don’t watch them in October like we would think. They watch them in the summer. The summers are hot in Korea. When you watch a scary movie, you get goose bumps because you get scared, and you can also get goose bumps from being cold. They watch the scary movies thinking they will help them cool off.
The major Korean ghost the students told me about is the ghost of a young woman who never got married. She wears a white hanbok. If you have seen my other blogs, the hanbok is the traditional Korean clothing. If you go to a funeral in Korea, they don’t wear black like the Europeans and Americans, but they wear white. This young woman ghost who never got married comes to you and asks you to perform a marriage ceremony for her. If you perform the marriage ceremony, she goes away. Otherwise, she stays and haunts you until you do. When I was talking to my daughter today, she said she had researched the Korean ghosts, and she had learned there is not just a young woman ghost like this, but there is also a young man ghost wearing a man’s white hanbok who never got married who does the same thing.
This ghost could be dressed like one of these young women, but have a big bloody cut across her mouth out to her cheeks.
Some of the students told me about a Japanese ghost that is similar to the Korean ghost. This ghost is also a young woman dressed in white. She has had plastic surgery. If you look it up on the web, Seoul, Korea does more plastic surgery than any city in the world. My students actually thought this ghost was Korean, but my daughter says in her research, she has learned she actually came from Japan. For this young ghost, her plastic surgery went wrong, and she is cut across the mouth, and there is blood all over her mouth. She comes and says, “Am I pretty?” If you tell her she isn’t, she kills you because it makes her so unhappy. If you tell her she is pretty, she knows you are lying, and she kills you for lying. This is a ghost no one wants to encounter.
Those two ghosts are the ones my students mostly talked about, but there are more. My Japanese son in law told me about a Chinese ghost. The Chinese ghost is half ghost and half vampire. It has legs like a grasshopper and jumps. It has vampire teeth. Today, my daughter showed me a Chinese movie with this ghost in it that she had seen. The ghost was really short because of how its legs were bent, and it had blood all around its mouth. It was dressed in traditional Chinese clothing and even wearing a traditional Chinese hat. It didn’t seem like much of a threat because in the movie, the characters beat him up and got rid of him. There are lots of Chinese movies online about this ghost. They call him Mr. Vampire. You can find them on You Tube, and some of them have English subtitles if you are interested. Actually, when I first came to Korea, from watching Korean TV, I learned that the Chinese are extremely imaginative and make very interesting movies. The Chinese movies looked so interesting, it made me wish I spoke Chinese.
The other ghost that everyone talks about being from the Orient is the Ring Girl. I don’t know why they call her a ‘Ring Girl.’ My daughter usually knows the answer to questions I don’t know like this, but when I asked her, she doesn’t know either. The Japanese invented the Ring Girl, and after that, the Americans picked it up and made a movie about the Ring Girl. You may have seen it. She comes on TV. If you see her, you have three days to figure out why she died, or she comes out of the TV and kills you.
In the discussions among my students in the English Conversation class, there was a question about whether or not they believed in ghosts. Some of them believed in ghosts, and some of them didn’t. One girl said she could feel her grandmother with her even though she was dead. The girl wasn’t a Christian. In fact, she had no religion at all, so I thought, “She is just superstitious.” However, one boy said that after his grandfather passed away, he was in the car going home after the funeral, and he saw his grandfather crossing the road. He was a very faithful Christian, and he had been to school in America and spoke English better than anyone else in the class, but he still had a piece in him that the other girl had. The other students argued with him. They thought he was absolutely crazy!! He argued back, and he refused to give up his position. They tried to convince him that he thought he saw his grandfather out of grief, but he refused to listen. He would not give up the idea that he had seen his grandfather. Most of them didn’t believe in ghosts, but some did. I wonder if we put it out there for university students in America asking if they believe in ghost, what would they say?