By: Christine “ECKO” Ho, Staff Writer
Many Asians believe in spirits, ghosts, and the afterlife as a whole. Some horror movies only show a portion of Asian urban legends, but there are caveats of Asian cultures that believe in lucky spirits, mischievous spirits, forest spirits, gods, etc.
In the Chinese culture, the Shen are the gods, deities, or the spirits of the world. For example, shanshen signifies a “mountain spirit.” The word “Shen” can be traced to Buddhism and the religion. Very close to the word is the Koreans’ “Shin.” The meanings and the word itself is derived from “Shen.” Similarly, the Japanese have the kami, which are their deities. The Japanese also have evil spirits; the youkai, the oni, etc.
Since Halloween draws near, let us turn our attention to the otherworldly ghosts.
Because I am Korean, the horror stories I am most associated with regard the gwishin. They are souls of the departed, and are normally girls in white, with long, stringy hair. Hands outstretched no legs, head cocked to the side, red, demonic eyes and a gaping mouth that cries for blood is usually how they’re depicted. They are vengeful, and have usually been wronged while living, or have some unfinished business in the real world.
If you have ever watched The Ring, this storyline involves an otherworldly, evil girl that is like a gwishin. The origin of The Ring was influenced by legends from Japan. In Japan, the name Sadako is famous and feared, and is like an example of a gwishin of Korea. The storyline is very familiar in that the vengeful spirit of a daughter has cursed a video, which kills whoever views it—unless a copy is made and passed along.
There are some methods of warding off evil spirits. In Thailand for instance, children were given nicknames such as “dirt” in order to convince evil spirits that their children were not worth going after.
Photo credit: Newsem.com