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May 27, 2017

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Modern Korean couples still consult fortune-tellers to predict marital bliss

To many foreigners, a Korean wedding is an odd blend of Korean and Western cultures. While the ceremony itself is fairly Western — with the bride in a typical white wedding dress and the bridegroom in a tuxedo exchanging rings — the procedure before the final event of tying the knot is strewn with Korean traditional rites.

One of them is gunghap. In the centuries-old practice, Korean couples or their parents would go to a fortune-teller to predict their gunghap, or marital harmony.

Centuries ago, when a marriage was decided through a go-between by parents, not by the couples, an auspicious or decent gunghap rending was a precondition of any talk of a marriage.

In modern Korea, however, a fortune-teller's reading carries less weight than in the past.

Still, in rare cases, it does determine a marriage, according to wedding consultant Shin Sung-ja.

"If a gunghap becomes a make-or-break factor, it is most likely that the parents didn't like the person their son or daughter wanted to marry for some reason in the first place and that on top of that, gunghap happened to turn out bad," Shin said. She has been in the wedding business for over 10 years.

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