Foreseeing the Dec. 19 outcome
When every Election Day approaches, fortune-tellers begin to make their predictions of the results. This year is no exception. Notable fortune-tellers have given interviews and made television appearances, prophesying by comparing the physiognomy and birth dates of Park Geun-hye, Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo.
Most remain prudent and do not make definite predictions, but one fortune-teller openly declared that a certain candidate would win the election. The broadcast station that aired the interview received a warning from the Election Broadcasting Deliberation Committee under the Korea Communications Standards Commission. But the candidate that the same fortune-teller picked as the winner of the 2007 presidential election was defeated, so it is unknown whether his prediction would actually help the current candidate’s campaign.
But there has been a case before of a misinterpretation of physiognomy and erroneous fortune-telling ruining the country. In 1590, right before Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s invasion of Korea, Hwang Yun-gil and Kim Seong-il were sent to Japan as part of the Joseon Tongsinsa goodwill mission. Upon returning to Korea, they each debriefed on Hideyoshi. Hwang described him as a man with a sharp glance who possessed guts and wisdom, and predicted there would be an invasion. But Kim countered the argument and compared Hideyoshi to a rat, rejecting the possibility of an invasion. Scholars say that it is unjust to blame Kim Seong-il as an individual responsible for the Hideyoshi invasion and early defeat in battle. Nevertheless, Kim’s prediction was wrong.
It is hard to predict even the nearest future. That’s why people have relied on fortune-tellers. In 1763, 173 years after Kim Seong-il’s visit, another group of Joseon Tongsinsa delegates went to Japan, and a record of Japanese fortune-tellers’ physiognomy analysis remains today.
Niyama Daiho was the most famous fortune-teller of the time, and regarding Seo Yu-dae, a military officer of Joseon, he said, “Seo will certainly rise to a high rank, will bring about a disaster and will then die early.” Upon returning to Korea, Seo Yu-dae became a general, but he was a generous and respected man who enjoyed longevity, passing away at the age of 70. Niyama Daiho was wrong about his prediction.
The fortune-tellers say the three presidential candidates generally have good physiognomic features. In fact, they have to have been born under “lucky stars” to have come this far. What we need to be concerned with is not the physiognomy of the candidates. It is far more important how well they can understand the physiognomy of the citizens of Korea. They should carefully study the minds of the voters who are debating who to vote for.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Noh Jae-hyun