In South Korea fortune-telling will soon be a $3.7bn business

Feb 22, 2018

DESTINY is usually said to lurk in heavy drapes of purple velvet, in the wicked glint of a crystal ball, behind a veil of heady incense or in the tuck of a gold-chiffon turban. Your correspondent went in search of hers among a crush of Korean schoolgirls at the “Broken Heart Tarot Club” in booming Hongdae, a university district in Seoul. The café’s façade is an inviting jumble of pink neon signs and glowing graffiti. At the next table, a hip tarot reader spread a deck face-down for two girlfriends in oversized denim jackets, who took turns picking out cards and sipping on their lattes. He looked as cool as them, more rapper than rune-reader, in dark glasses with a chain around his neck.

Interrogating the decorated cards costs 3,000 won (about $2.75) a question. A tarot reader assesses the character of her clients first. Two flicks of her wrist, and a pair of Queens appears. “You chose the strongest set in the deck,” she says brightly. “Fame is within reach.” Will a move to a new...

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