The 17 Creepiest Korean Urban Legends

Korean urban legends get pretty wild, if you let yourself fall down the rabbit hole. Sure, there are some silly, innocuous, superstitious quirks like staying away from red ink or turning your fans off at night, but most Korean urban legends are the stuff of nightmares. There are stories of malevolent beings that follow you through the streets at midnight, or in public restrooms. When they find you, they make you choose the way you’re going to perish.

But it’s not all monsters. There are Korean ghost stories, and plenty of body horror, too. Insects, sea creatures, and plants entering the body are common in these urban legends, which aren't for the faint of heart. If you need to use the bathroom while visiting Seoul, well, maybe don't. You never know what might be hiding there, waiting to cut you to pieces.

If you think you’re strong enough, check out some Korean scary stories sure to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. 

  • Cockroaches Living Inside You

    Cockroaches are everywhere, but the annals of South Korean urban legend put them in some very creepy places - such as laying eggs in a girl’s tampon. When said girl’s stomach started to hurt, she went to the hospital, where doctors discovered that the eggs had hatched and the cockroaches were camped out in her uterus.

    While this story is more likely than not untrue, parts of bugs have been found in tampons and diapers in South Korea.

  • The Slit-Mouthed Woman

    If you’re a child walking alone at night in South Korea, it’s said you might run into a creepy woman with a red surgical mask on. She’ll come up to you and ask you if you think she’s pretty. If you tell her no, she offs you with a pair of scissors. If you say yes, she’ll remove the mask to show you her mouth, which has been slit open from ear to ear, and ask you the same question again. A "no" results in death; a "yes" results in your mouth being slit open like hers. If you run away, she reappears in front of you.

    This character is a derivation of Kuchisake-onna, a Japanese urban legend who wears a white surgical mask, but is otherwise more or less exactly the same. 

  • Haunted Bathrooms

    South Korean schools are often said to be haunted. Suicides in stalls, toilets flushing themselves, and phantom crying are common claims.

    The weirdest haunted bathroom urban legend from South Korea suggests that ghosts live in toilets, and that they may stick their hands out while you're on the toilet and ask whether you want red toilet paper or blue. If you choose red, the ghost cuts you up. If you choose blue, the ghost suffocates you.

  • Ghost Money

    According to this legend, a leading member of the South Korean mint was away on a business trip when his daughter was taken and slain. No one was ever tried for the heinous act.

    To appease the ghost of the woman, it’s rumored the mint placed images of her body parts and pieces of her name on South Korean currency. The mint has denied all of this.

  • Taxi Drivers Who Harvest Your Organs

    A screenshot of a text conversation warning of taxis being used as traps by organ harvesters went viral after it was posted on South Korean social media site KakaoTalk. The story goes that a guy who had too much to drink got in a cab, was poked in the neck with a needle and, next thing he knew, woke up in a field with his stomach cut open. He found out later one of his kidneys had been taken.

    A variation of this story features in the plots of a number of movies, including South Korea's own Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

  • Sesame Seeds Gone Horribly Wrong

    The story goes that a girl was worried about the appearance of her skin and heard taking a bath with sesame seeds in the water would be good for her. So, she tried it, and stayed in the tub for hours.

    The girl's mother, worried about how long her daughter was spending in the bathroom, checked on her, only to find that the sesame seeds had lodged in her daughter’s pores and taken root. Her daughter was sobbing as she tried to remove the seeds with a toothpick.