Poised to enter a cutthroat job market, college art student Kim Tae-eun showed up for a crucial interview nervous and dressed to the nines.
She wasn't meeting with a job counselor or head hunter—she needed real results. She needed a fortuneteller.
"I can see blue dragons rising behind your back," Jeon Jae-jik, a gymnast turned job prophet, said at a crowded coffeehouse here. " All of your work will be fine, believe me."
In South Korea, a modernized nation that nonetheless keeps in touch with a culture of mysticism, young job seekers hope to peer into the future with a little help from the past.
In a Career poll, nearly 60 percent of job hunters had consulted a fortuneteller or were planning to do so. The biggest reason: The gloomy prospects of a depressed job market call for extraordinary measures, they said.
Seoul has hundreds of fortunetelling cafes. During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the industry reportedly flourished, and this recession seems no different.
Paik Woon-san, chairman of the Association of Korean Prophets, said reading fortunes was a recession-proof profession.
"One hundred percent of the people who consult me follow my advice," said Paik, who claims that more than 300,000 fortunetellers are practicing in South Korea.