Saturday, February 6, 2010

Moving Fortune-Teller

Near the Namdaemun Market in an underground alley a bevy of women were excitedly gathered around an object of great amusement. And where women are gathered, especially middle-aged women, foreign women get accepted, so I peered over the shoulders of the women who went from being enthralled to jabbering away. Sitting cross-legged on a mat on the cement was a middle-aged fortune-teller dressed in mix-match of western and traditional: a western coat over his traditional mauve-purple hanbok, white BYC socks and wearing a rather full beard for a Korean. Many fortune-tellers have a straggly hair or beard appearance but his was neatly clipped and his nails were manicured, projecting himself apparently as a scholar-gentleman. With great fanfare and ado he was offering his astounding insights on moving dates and the women were loving it. Not only the ladies though but even male passerbys would stop to listen, chuckle at the ladies and myself before moving along.

Never looking up, the fortune-teller would scratch down prospective moving dates, cross out some, circle others, consult his raggedy dog-eared date-almanac and then scratch out others. Finally after soliloquizing to himself as if no other were around and filling a sheet or two with Chinese characters and numbers, he would circle a date and declare it the best - a Saturday for both of the ladies who consulted him and which in fact is the easiest date for housewives and hubbies to coordinate moves (coincidence?). His phenomenal charge for all his enthralling monologue and hard work was a whopping 5000won (about $5).

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