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Jan 29

South Korea: Do You Think I’m Pretty?

south-korea-flag-770x513Imagine:

You are walking down the street, it is dark and late at night and there isn’t anyone else around. You hear soft footsteps, the tread of a woman in fashionable shoes. Relieved you slow your pace: surely there is no harm from her?

You see her, she is thin and pale and wearing a crimson coat. Her eyes peer up at you over a red scarf that she has used to cover her mouth.

It seems a little odd, but you’re in South Korea where many people use scarves or medical masks to protect both from pollution and disease. She walks up to you and you wonder if maybe she is in trouble, her eyes look worried and large over her scarf.

“Do you think I’m pretty?” She asks, her voice hoarse, perhaps from crying.

What do you answer? Do you tell her yes or no?

It turns out that everything depends on this. She isn’t a normal girl, she is an evil spirit and she awaits your answer to determine your fate.

If you say ‘yes’, she will remove her mask and you will see that her mouth is slit open from ear to ear. She will take out a scalpel and cut your face so that you match her since you said you thought she was pretty, she will make you ‘pretty’ like she is. If you say ‘no’, however she will become angry and slit your throat instead of your face.

This ghost is known as ‘slit face’ and she is allegedly the ghost of a girl who killed herself after she developed a plastic surgery obsession and then one day woke up after surgery to find her face slit wide open. She is also called the red mask lady and isn’t unique to Korea.

In fact, although she is extremely widespread in her alleged appearances across Korea, she migrated there from Japan. In Japan she uses a surgical mask and is called Kachisake Onna. The legend there is that she was mutilated by her psychotic husband. She has been a spirit in Asia for an extremely long time although there was a fresh bought of sightings of the slit faced woman in both Korea and Japan that started in the seventies and has been ongoing to this day.

Some people have claimed to have escaped the encounter by confounding the spirit. Some say that if you tell her she looks average or normal that she will need time to consider how she will deal with you and you can run away if you are quick. Others have said that she loves candy and that if you offer her candy or throw candy on the ground she will go for it instead of for you.

There are legends of such women in Europe where they are called “Angel mouth’ women and also in America where they are described as “Glasgow Grin”. The fact that such images are a common part of the psyche can probably be connected to the compelling, powerful image of such pain and agony with a smile.

The smile of their face is the same as the smile of the Joker and is haunting and profoundly disturbing. It is easy at first to think that it is an exuberant and wide smile and then the mind is confused by the reaction to the constant pain and deformity that we are actually encountering.

Is there any reality to the rumors of the Slit Faced Woman?

Well, there is very little proof and no images that aren’t photo shopped or a special effect from a movie. It’s not impossible to imagine that there was once a woman who suffered such a deformity she might have gone insane and tried to revisit her trauma on others, but it is far more likely that it is a story that has captured people’s imagination and fear.

South Korea is notorious for reporting urban legends as though they are reality which spreads confusion and hysteria and Slit Face could certainly be such a case. A good example for this hysteria in Korea is the alleged ‘fan deaths’.
Fan death is the firmly held and completely erroneous belief that if you fall asleep in a room with a fan or an air conditioner running that it will kill you. The media hypes these fears by reporting fan deaths on the news as though they are true. On July 4, 2011 it was reported on Korean National News that, “A man reportedly died Monday after sleeping with an electric fan running. The 59 year old victim only known by his surname, Min, was found dead with the fan fixed directly on him.”

Fans in Korea come with warning stickers and with timers on them. The belief is so firmly held that it has only been the newest generations of Koreans who have researched the subject on the internet in order to educate themselves who do not believe in fan death.

In this sort of environment it is understandable how slit mouth could have migrated from Japan and found a fertile ground for her urban legend to propagate.

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