This Korean Ghost Attacks Happy Couples:
A ghost so life like she appears almost human. Long, disheveled hair. A white gown. Bitterness and unfulfilled rage. These are the tell tale characteristics of the Cheonyeogwisin, also known as the Korean Virgin Ghost.
Thwarted By Death:
In traditional Korean society, it was believed that a woman’s ultimate purpose was to get married and serve her husband. If a woman died before she was able to get married, she was seen as having failed in her purpose. The young woman is therefore left to roam the earth, filled with han, a Korean word which loosely translates to resentment, hatred, and regret. She harasses young women and has particular bitterness for couples and newlyweds, who get to experience the joy she never had.
A Spooky Figure:
Because only married women wear their hair up in traditional Korean society, the Virgin Ghost wears her hair down and without any clips or ties. And because she is single, she is not well taken care of, so her hair is messy and unkempt. She wears a sobok, a traditional white mourning gown. When she approaches, you will experience chills, feel the temperature drop, and see the wind change direction. And even though she is a ghost, she can appear so life like you might mistake her for a person.
Rituals for Destruction:
If a young woman dies before marriage, there are certain rituals that can prevent her transformation into a Virgin Ghost. She must be buried with straw dolls shaped like men, as it is thought the pseudo-male presence will placate her. She must also be buried upside down, with thorns around her coffin, so she won’t be able to get out and turn into a ghost. In the event that a Virgin Ghost takes possession of someone’s body, it may be necessary to perform a spiritual wedding. In a spiritual wedding a Virgin Ghost and a Bachelor Ghost (the male equivalent of the Virgin Ghost) are married so their souls can be at peace in the afterlife, and they can stop bothering the living.
The Virgin Ghost is no doubt a terrifying figure, haunting the living and threatening the happiness of couples. But she is also tragic. She is burdened by oppressive social norms, lashing out in rage against the unfair standards of women. And she is a symbol of lost youth, her hopes and dreams having been cut short by death. If you encounter a Virgin Ghost in your life, be wary, but you might also sympathize with her unfortunate plight.