By Kelli Donigan
Fortune-telling in the west is mostly considered a “pseudo-science,” which most people find questionable. However, fortune-telling does exist and consists of tarot cards, psychic readings and palm readings , but only a small percentage of people really get into those things. Westerners tend to believe in things like astrology horoscopes, magic tricks and wizardry along with Chinese fortune cookies, which have entered into the mainstream and are more commonly practiced in the west.
However, in the east, fortune-telling is a common practice just like feng-shui and blood-types that influences people’s behavior and decisions to guide them with concerns of money, health and marriage and what the future will be like. Koreans are not exception to this. Although Koreans can be impatient or in a hurry, they also on the other hand seem methodical and auspicious when it comes to important matters concerning marriage, moving, employment, love, money-matters, education, children, etc., Many Koreans like to consult several sources, not only from family and friends but from fortune-tellers. Fortune-tellers have become a modern consultation business to quick-fix-it problems or mounting worries. Some people take this fortune telling business seriously, but a lot of them take it with a grain of salt and do it just for the fun of it.
Fortune-telling has become a thriving marketable business in Korea, where you can have your fortune told as little as 3,000won to 100,000won depending on where you go or what you have done. You can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in a café, in a kiosks on the street, or in subway stations or in the comforts of the fortuneteller’s shop or house. If you are too busy but still interested, you can surf the internet and find some good fortune-telling sites as well.
As the Seollar holiday, the lunar New Year in Korea, quickly approaches, many Koreans go to get their fortune read at this time of year or at the beginning of the new year. KTO went on a search to look for a good fortune-teller shop. Before if you wanted to go to a fortune-teller it was a bit tedious to find; you had to ask around or scout out certain areas or go to houses marked ‘사주’ or had a Buddha symbol, but now fortune-telling has become much more publicly accessible offering pretty much the same services. You can see many ‘saju’ cafes clustered around Ewha University and Hongdae area as well as Chong-no or Insadong. Another notable area is Apgujeong-dong, the place where I went, along Rodeo Drive, and to my surprise, there were many fortune-tellers and horoscope shops all in one building and open on Sunday! It’s definitely worth giving it a try especially if it’s your first time.
Name: Jepm Sul Jeom Tarot
Location: Apgujeong, Rodeo Drive, 658 Hyundae Rodeo Bld.
Tel: 02) 3445-4204
Jeom Sul Tarot was the second place my friend and I checked out and choose this one because it offered a special sale on its services and had famous celebrities plastered on the door and windows that had visited! I was gullibly sold.
What I found interesting about this place was that it offered a wide variety of fortune-telling services from 사주 (saju) to tarot cards, even these stones called runes along with long, thin bamboo sticks. I wondered how they were used and how they could read your fortune. Nowadays, fortune-tellers not only use eastern practices such as ‘saju’ but also use a variety of things from the west such as tarot cards, crystal balls, runes, pendulums, palm and face readings. You can’t help but feel curious as well as suspicious over all these interesting and new forms of fortune-telling.
If you are wondering which reading to select, the most common and traditional form of fortune-telling that many Koreans have done is ‘사주’ (saju), which means the four pillars of one’s birth that consists of your year, month, day and time. Saju derives from the Chinese art of divination based on the five natural elements (earth, water, metal, wood and fire) of yin and yang and their attraction and repulsion to each other. I was planning to do a saju reading but since I wasn’t sure of the time I was born, I decided to do a reading with a crystal ball along with a palm reading and face reading.
Consultation seemed to be a private matter as I noticed the place had private booths enclosed by curtains. The fortune-teller, who was dressed in a genie-like costume without the turbin or the shimmer, told me to put my hands on a crystal ball that lay in the center of the table with my eyes closed. After a few minutes, he spoke saying a few words associated to my character, mentioning in particular that my character was more masculine than feminine. Hmm…Next, he asked me to pull back my hair so he could see my ears, and said that I would have a handsome-looking husband despite a handful of dour dating experiences with less than handsome guys. He also mentioned to stay away from very conservative, traditional guys because I will not feel so free to do as I please. I guess I would have to resort to dating younger guys who had an open mind then. According to the fortune-teller, this year would be a good financial year for me, but not such a good year for love or marriage, suggesting that next year would be my year. As I left, I felt an urge to get a second consultation just to be sure since 2007 still has a long ways to go.
|▒ Fortune-Telling Price List
Saju Reading: 20,000won (1 person) / 40,000won (2-4 persons)
Tarot Cards: 10,000won
Crystal Ball: 10,000won
Pendulum Reading: 10,000won
Face Reading, Palm Reading, Past Life: 10,000won
Directions to Jeom Sul Jeom Tarot Shop:
From Exit 3 of Apgujeong Station (subway line 3), take a bus near the subway (in front of Dunkin Donuts) headed toward the Galleria Department Store; get off after 3 stops. The bus stops right in front of McDonalds. Go to your right and you will see the entrance of Rodeo Drive. Walk inside Rodeo Drive and go straight down for about 10 mins. The third perpendicular side street you will see it on your right-hand side. It will be inside Hyundai Rodeo Building on the first floor. Call in advance for more specific directions as well as a reservation especially during holidays or weekends. Depending on how busy it is, the average wait is 10-15 minutes.