Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Red Sun!"

Dear Korean,

My wife is a fan of Korean dramas, and I have also a seen a few series. The other day, a colleague of mine who is even more of a K-drama fan mentioned that he's noticed references to "red sun" in several different series over the past few years, and it has piqued his curiosity. In each instance, a character apparently said the words "red sun" and made some sort of a gesture with his or her arms. My friend asked whether I and/or my wife are familiar with the significance of this reference, but I regret that neither of us can recall ever having seen it.

Are you able to offer any insight into the cultural (popular or otherwise) significance of the phrase "red sun" and the accompanying gesture?


The origin of this phrase can be traced back to a single person:  "professor" Kim Yeong-Guk.

Since early 2000s, Kim touted his ability of inducing hypnosis, which according to him helps people retrace their former karmic lives, quit smoking, lose weight, concentrate better, cure depression, etc. The video above is Kim making his pitch on YouTube.

Because of his TV appearances and celebrities who were willing to play along, Kim has been a C-level celebrity in Korea. In particular, his catchphrase has "red sun", which he yells (or firmly states) at the moment his "patient" is supposed to fall under hypnosis, accompanied with a mysterious hand gesture. If you have not caught onto this yet, the phrase does not really mean anything.

Most Koreans rightly recognized this as hokey BS, but the catchphrase gained some traction in Korean pop culture and Internet memes. In a situation involving some form of hypnosis, this phrase sometimes makes an appearance.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. That doctor is a Japanese spy. The red sun is the Japanese flag.

    Just kidding.

  2. Reminds me a lot like the "cold readers" who feigned psychic powers to speak to people's dead relatives in that it became part of pop culture.

  3. awesome question, and awesome that you had the answer! So cool. The Koreans know all.

  4. Interesting post...
    Love reading you blog.

  5. I was wondering this exact same thing but didn't even know how to google it because I didn't realize the saying was "red sun." I couldn't decipher it as English even! Thanks TK!

  6. The Japanese ambassador is traveling through the Wild West by train, when gangsters hold up the train, to rob a gold shipment. They also carry an ancient Japanese sword the ambassador was carrying as a present for the US president. The ambassador's bodyguard (Toshiro Mifune) will go after them, with the aid of one of the gang's leaders betrayed by his generico

  7. Thanks! Saw this in K-drama Monstar, and had no idea what that was about. Though... in the drama it looked like SeolChun was trying to snap SeYi out of her trance.


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