Sarah Jinee Park, a storyteller from Queens tells us creepy stories from her haunted apartment in Ridgewood, NY.
Creaking doors, creaking floors, and the feeling that you’re being watched may make you think you have a ghost in your home, but what would really convince you? What would it take to make you sit up and say “yes, this place is definitely haunted.”
Our guest today could almost dismiss all the signs of her haunted home until she saw something unforgettable. And you won’t be able to forget about it, either, after you hear her story.
In the Korean-American communities of New York, the culture is even more steeped in tradition than what you’d find in modern-day Korea. Sarah tells us how Korean-Americans hold on to and celebrate their cultural heritage, specifically around death and spirits. Expect some classic bathroom ghosts, virgin ghosts, polytheism, animism, Buddhism, Confuscianism, shamanism, superstitions, ancestors, and more. Then, she tells us her own creepy story of what happened in her 1930’s apartment.
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Episode Show Notes
About Sarah Jinee Park
Sarah is the executive editor of MochiMag.com, a writer for Peach Velvet Mag. She uses her journalism powers to advocate for and amplify the narratives of Asian-American women and other minorities. You can also find her on Instagram @fragile__things. Also, keep up with her writing via her website: sarahjineepark.com.
What is a bu-dung?
A shaman that mediates the “passing-on ritual,” essential for successful reincarnation. They will also mediate communication and rituals between the spirits and the living. There are lots of these in Korea that you can call to cleanse a haunted space. Unfortunately for Sarah, she doesn’t know of any in New York.
Famous Korean folklore figures
The dokkaebi or dokebi is equal parts ghost and goblin. It is created by an object tainted with blood. According to the books Sarah grew up reading, it also stalks and punishes greedy people.
Kumiho…is it like a Kitsune?
The Kumiho is a 9-tailed fox spirit that poses as a beautiful woman and eats the livers of men to gain longevity. This concept is also somewhat gendered, and in Korean culture, calling a woman a fox is associated with slut-shaming. Feminists are reclaiming the term, as Sarah demonstrates in her short story, The Kumiho’s Song in Truancy Magazine.
Why are there so many creepy stories about bathroom ghosts haunting Asian schools?
Apparently because the suicide rate is through the roof, due to ruthless competition and pressure to succeed. There are plenty of stories of creepy bathroom hauntings and occurrences across Asia. Apparently, vengeful bathroom ghosts grab onto the long hair of young girls and kill them. Therefore, it’s traditional to cut one’s hair when a girl starts school. Chen Ye Gwisin is a virgin ghost that didn’t fulfill her womanly duties. All of these have to do with tradition and regret.
There are incredibly elaborate rules and rites surrounding the observation of death days, or Gije. Like a birth day, a death day is an annual celebration commemorating the day an ancestor or loved one passed away. Gije is a private ceremony held on the anniversary of the death of a family member within 5 generations (anything beyond that would be a Sije, which are all observed at the same time). There’s also an incredibly elaborate feast prepared the night before, including traditional dishes like tteok, jeon, and jeok.
Do you love words‽ Do you love knowing the origin of words‽ Do you love comparing words in different languages‽ Do you know how to use an interrobang‽‽‽ Us, too. We had a lot of fun making up words for specific situations. Do you like our new words (wraithalaith, nobsquasher, and twabble) and plan to use them? If so, let’s build a conspiracy together: suggest them to Urban Dictionary with your own version of the definitions. Keep an eye on our blog for an ongoing series, Etymology for Goth Polyglots.
P.S. Thank you Podraland for introducing us to Sarah!
Until next time, have a spooky day!