Red Ink

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You may use colored ink on a daily basis, including red. It jumps out and is appealing to write with, causing it to be used for note-taking and generic writing. But perhaps you shouldn't use red ink if you ever happen to write someone's name down, especially in Korea or China.

This is less of an urban legend and more of a superstition. However, many people see this as an urban legend, so I decided to include it in this book.

A long time ago in China, they used the color to mark the names of criminals that would receive death sentences. Because of how ancient the times were, they didn't have red ink and instead used chicken blood as a substitute. Due to the resemblance towards red and blood, it was seen as a color of pain and death. Graves would be marked with red text, and the names of the dead would be written in red ink as well.

It's unsure of how this belief spread to Korea, but it is believed that this may have happened because of how many Korean traditions were taken from Chinese customs. Either way, Korea began to adopt this way of thinking. They would use red ink to record those who have passed in the family registry and began to associate red colored names with death and loss. A living person's name being written down with red ink was seen as a bad omen, too. It could be viewed as the writer wishing death towards that person and cursing them, bringing death towards their way.

Nowadays, Koreans and Chinese citizens may occasionally use red ink, although the only people that constantly use it are teachers and accountants. Red has shifted in Chinese ideology over the years and is now seen as more of a symbolic color of happiness. Because of this, it is frequently used during Chinese New Year and is typically forbidden at funerals. It is also used in many official seals and government themes, along with red-colored envelopes that are gifted during special occasions. However, it still may be seen as offensive when writing a living person's name in red ink.

I know, you may be thinking, "How can someone think that I'm wishing death by writing their name in red ink? That's ridiculous!" 

To sum it up,  it's more of an impolite action in modern society than a full-fledged death wish. Many Korean citizens don't think that you're going to kill them by writing down their name, but rather consider it a rude and hateful gesture to do. If you ever go to Korea, there's a chance that you may run into people that know of this, and it would probably irritate them if you were to write down their name in red ink. My recommendation is to simply avoid red ink if you ever visit these countries to prevent any mishaps just in case. And if you do have to write in red ink, just don't write down anyone's name and you should be fine.

Unless you want them to die, that is.

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