Tarot has seen a boom in its international popularity in recent years, and one could say that it has become mainstream in South Korea. Tarot shops and kiosks are pretty common sights in modern South Korea, especially in popular areas like Hongdae Station and Gangnam Station. More people than ever are getting tarot readings. All of this prevalence might create pitfalls for people unfamiliar with tarot. The average person might step into a Hongdae tarot shop and not really know much about tarot or it’s history. Even worse, with the new glut of tarot services offered across South Korea, a person might not know how, where, or why of getting a tarot consultation.
Rooftop on the Hanok caught up with three South Korean tarot practitioners to get advice on where tarot enthusiasts and curious people should go to get tarot, what to look for in a reading, how to find other enthusiasts, and good places to practice it.
Where to go to get a tarot reading
People new to tarot can go to the trendy areas and get readings says Jiyun Kim, a university student living near Seoul. “Decent tarot stores are located in Gangnam and Hongdae,” she says.
Amelie Kim, a collective artist, somewhat agrees that visiting shops is a good place to start. “I guess people should go to random shops on the street and check out tarot Youtube channels for suggestions.”
Professional tarot reader Jinha Lim believes that for beginners, almost any place will do. “I bet you can find tarot anywhere in Korea, they are as widespread as churches. If you want to do it just for fun, it is okay to go anyplace you want. But if you want to ask something serious, then it is better to ask around. Find someone who knows.”
Rates and number of questions
Jiyun Kim suggests that people interested in tarot start with at least 5 questions to ask a tarot reader. Normally, people pay anywhere between 25,000 won to 30,000 won. Clients shouldn’t pay 50, 000 won for a reading. “Usually, 30,000 won should be enough to get answers to 5 to 10 pressing questions.”
Lim suggests to start with as many questions as needed, but not to choose the cheapest service. In her estimate, clients should pay 5,000- 10,000 Korean won for 1 question. “If you see 3,000 Korean won for 1 question, you will be disappointed. Sorry to say this but lots of tarot readers can not speak any English,” says Lim.
What to look for in a tarot reading
Clients can visit a tarot reader without specific questions in mind, Jiyun Kim says. “A good tarot reader should be able to create elaborate questions for his or her client.”
Prospective clients are looking for cosmic truth, Amelie Kim claims. “A reader should know the balance. When there is a good balance, good rates come.” She believes that when readers give lower rates, their ability can improve. “Good rates give good synchronicity to the reader.” Anyone who is getting a reading is ultimately looking for what is up in the sky, she suggests.
Lim recommends considering various factors such as the place, the reader’s abillity, how many details are requested, how serious it is, how many questions, and how long the time of the consultation is. It is easy to find a place, but finding good readers is difficult. “Usually, a good reader’s eyes are calm from their strong beliefs. What they say makes sense.” It’s best to find a good place and keep going back. “It is like when you feel your first love. keep off a noisy place by the main road.” She believes that luck is part of the equation of finding a good tarot reader. She thinks prices can indicate a lot, as well. “Too cheap is beginner or not much educated or practiced. Too expensive is usually fake.”
Amelie Kim thinks that an important question has to be treated as sacred after receiving an answer. Asking a question comes with sacredness, earnestness, and a pledge for all-out effort. If not, the querent is not going to improve their lifestyle or result.
Lim has a piece of advice. “Please don’t ask, ‘Can I be BTS’s girlfriend?’ Because my heart breaks to say ‘No, that won’t ever happen.’ ”
How to find other tarot enthusiasts
Jiyun Kim says that she makes friends with people who have the same interests. Namely, those are people interested in spirituality. “People who consider themselves spiritual tend to have at least one tarot deck. I assume one can meet other enthusiasts through classes, which are common in Korea.”
Just being open to friends can lead to knowing people who also like tarot says Amelie Kim. “By being friends with anyone, they will be interested in tarot unless they are not interested in it.”
Lim thinks that a meet up or a social meeting is the best way to meet tarot enthusiasts.
Where to buy tarot decks and find Korean online tarot forums
Jiyun Kim buys her decks from a website called Intertarot because it’s reliable. She suggests choosing a deck based on feelings. “Just go with intuition. Everyone has a unique relationship with different decks. Rider Waite is normally good for beginners.”
Lim says it’s difficult to find tarot card shops, as “even Koreans do not know how to do that.” She recommends an online shopping mall or a Korean bookstore. At Kyobo bookstore in Jongno, tarot decks are on sale. There is also a tarot shop in Gangnam for people who want to see a deck before buying. Customers should call first because there are not any actual store hours. A search of the Hangul words on the naver search engine can give more information. It is written in hangul as 타로상점 or Tarot Sangjeom in the English alphabet. They can be reached at the number 010-5027-2179. Finally, there is an online Korean forum that can be found by searching the hangul letters 타로클럽. It’s not as big as tarotforum.net, an English site.
Good places to practice tarot
Jiyun Kim recommends practicing tarot at a franchise café like Twosome or Angel in Us.
Amelie Kim suggests any cafe. “If it’s not too hot or too cold, fine. Why not anywhere? A forest could be cool.”
Lim thinks the best place to practice is at home. That’s because cafes are not good places to do tarot spreads. So if someone does they should go to a quiet cafe with a few customers.
As long as tarot continues to be popular in South Korea, the sight of tarot cards and shops will continue to be part of the South Korean landscape. Amelie Kim believes that tarot will always be there for people who need it. “Tarot comes to people, via tv, street, people, web, everywhere. When people feel they need it, there will be tarot.”
David Kute has an appreciation for Seoul’s distinct neighborhoods. From Dongdaemun’s market stalls to Hongdae’s rock music venues, the city continues to fascinate him. After spending many years living and working in Seoul and South Korea, he started the blog Rooftop on the Hanok. The blog is a place to share information as well as explore facets of life on the Korean peninsula. He enjoys writing fiction and playing basketball when he’s not researching or writing Rooftop on the Hanok posts.