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July 2, 2009 / owbEe

Orange-colored nails

I really love watching Korean movies and one of my favorites is A Millionaire’s First Love (백만장자의 첫사랑) which stars Hyun Bin (현빈)  and Lee Yeon Hee (이연희). Anyway, I won’t be making any movie reviews in my post; I would just like to talk about the old Korean tradition of dyeing one’s nails with bongseonhwa (봉선화).

According to some posts in the net 봉선화 is a flowering plant commonly called garden balsam or rose balsam. It is scientifically named as Impatiens balsamina.

Here’s how it looks like.

Photo credits: Wikipedia

I’m quite interested in the story behind this culture. There aren’t many articles posted in the net about it so I’m basing the facts from the two movies that I’ve watched featuring the said practice. One is in A Millionaire’s First Love (which I already mentioned a while ago) and the other one is Daddy Long Legs (Korean title: 키다리 아저씨) starring Ha Ji Won (하지원) and Yeon Jung Hoon (연정훈).

I took some screenshots from the film to show you how they do the dyeing process. [Click the photos to enlarge.]

Screenshot taken from Daddy Long Legs

Screenshot taken from Daddy Long Legs

This scene was taken at the beginning of the movie. I think its a form of foreshadowing or a hint to the viewers as to what will happen in the movie. Sorry I forgot, this isn’t a movie review. LOL.

Anyway, moving on. The same scene was also depicted in A Millionaire’s First Love. I captured the dialogue in the movie to show you the story of this old Korean culture.

Screenshot taken from A Millionaire's First Love

Screenshot taken from A Millionaires First Love

Screenshot taken from A Millionaire's First Love

Actually that’s not the whole dialogue. I only took the shots that are relevant to showing the point of dyeing your nails. Here’s the dialogue:

Eun-whan’s Guardian: Why (are you) dyeing your fingernails with flower juice?

Eun-whan: They’re black-edged. I can’t wait for the first snow.

Eun-whan’s Guardian: What’s the point? You’ve never been in love.

Eun-whan: I’m 19. I’ve been in love.

Eun-whan’s Guardian: It may come earlier for you Eun-whan.

According to what I remember from the movie, Korean women believed that if your nails are still orange by the time the first snow falls, you will find your true love. I’m not really sure if that’s the real story behind it. From what I read from other blogs, instead of finding true love you will marry your first love or you will marry your true love. It’s also their belief that it is used for warding off evil spirits. In my opinion, I guess that’s just how you see things your way. You may find that one true love, marry ’em and stay happy, or find that one true love and do nothing about it.

Anyway, here are some more shots from A Millionaire’s First Love. This one was taken when Jae-kyung (Hyun Bin’s character) asks Eun-whan (Lee Yeon Hee’s character) to dye his nails for him.

Screenshot taken from A Millionaires First Love

Screenshot taken from A Millionaire's First Love

Screenshot taken from A Millionaires First Love

Screenshot taken from A Millionaire's First Love

Isn’t that cute? He believes that he’ll find his love after dyeing his nails. Here’s another cute one. LOL.

Screenshot taken from A Millionaires First Love

Screenshot taken from A Millionaire's First Love

He even starts to pick another one for his toes. LOL again.

Screenshot taken from A Millionaires First Love

Screenshot taken from A Millionaire's First Love

Do you think dyeing my nails would give me my one true love? Unfortunately, it doesn’t snow here. LOL.

Screenshot taken from Daddy Long Legs

Screenshot taken from Daddy Long Legs

P.S. Want to color your nails too? Here are some useful reads:

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12 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. hangukdrama / Jul 2 2009 10:28 pm

    wow I didn’t know about the story behind this! I remembering seeing it in the drama ‘Goodbye Solo’ too

    • owbEe / Jul 2 2009 11:05 pm

      I’ll try and watch this drama if I have time. It’s fun learning new things from dramas. ^^

  2. Tori / May 17 2010 8:10 pm

    oo! a millionaires first love is my favorite movie! and i just watched daddy longlegs. both great movies, but anyways, after seeing them i really want to try to dye my finger nails orange. im going to try it, so hopefully it turn out okay. =)

    • owbEe / May 17 2010 8:15 pm

      That’s so cool Tori. I would also like to try it but I don’t know where to get those balsam. Good luck! If you don’t mind, please share with us some photos of your nail dyeing. We would love to see it. 😀

  3. Lulubell / May 31 2010 5:28 pm

    erm dumb question.. do u know when exactly am i supposed to dye my nails? it is supposed to last until the snowfall, but should they be dyed in the autumn or in the summer?

    • owbEe / Jun 1 2010 12:03 am

      Hi Lulubell.

      I don’t really think that that’s a dumb question. I actually thought about it when I was researching this topic. From this site, it says that it’s a spring or summer tradition. But from this article, it says after the rains. I read from wikipedia that rainfall is concentrated in the summer months of June through September, which means it’s supposed to be an autumn tradition.

      Based on the following info, the dyeing of the nails is done anytime except during winter. 😀 I think I need to ask a Korean about it to verify. LOL.

  4. kamillxjxmoon / Aug 20 2011 4:12 am

    maybe you could still try it if you go by when it snows in korea and not where you live. that’s what i think i’ll try.

    • owbEe / Aug 20 2011 12:20 pm

      I’ll probably try it. I just need to find out where I can get 봉선화 flower. ㅋㅋㅋ

  5. 케씔 / Jun 16 2012 11:54 pm

    I didn’t know this! Haha. I haven’t watched both movies but I think I gotta watch them right away~~ But, aren’t their fingers supposed to be orange too because the whole part is covered with leaf! 😄 And in the last pic, the color’s only in the fingertips.. I wonder how that’s done. But this is also a good alternative to nail polish haha ^^ Thanks again for sharing~~ 🙂

    • owbEe / Jun 17 2012 12:17 am

      Yes, do watch them. I really enjoyed those movies. 🙂

      About the color on the fingertips, I think that the nail already grew as time passed since they actually color their nails during spring or summer and if the color stays until the first snow they will find their true love.

    • 케씔 / Jun 17 2012 5:28 am

      Oh, silly me~~ You actually said in your post that they keep those until the first snow.. 😄 Thank you for clarifying! 😀

    • owbEe / Jun 20 2012 12:00 am

      No problem. 😉

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