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 country go smoothly? The Beggar. “The start will be hard, but you can succeed if you ask for help.” Will the Koreas go to war? Death and The Emperor show up, apparently the tarot incarnations of Kim Jong Un (here a scythe-wielding woman in blue veils) and Moon Jae-in, the leaders of North and South Korea. “Death plays tricks but the Emperor is wise,” the reader assures.
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