In Eastern Asia, blood types are the equivalent of Western horoscopes. While I think that it's more of a recent trend brought over from Japan, it seems that Koreans have strong beliefs in what blood types have to say about a person. There are some general traits believed to be shared by each blood type that outline one's personality and even one's health status.
Type As are thought to be considerate beings and are often caring of others. They are sensible, patient. Yet, despite positive traits, they have many faults, too. These include being stubborn, fastidious, and unable to relax. Even in the West, we might categorize these faults as a type A personality, often at higher risk for diseases like coronary heart disease. I wonder if anyone has ever studied what percentage of type A personalities have type A blood.
Type O personalities are independent, ambitious, confident, and natural born leaders. They are, on the downside, vain and jealous. I didn't even know what my blood type was until I came to Korea. I had so many people ask me last year what it was so I made sure to pay close attention to my annual medical check this year, which typed me as O-. I guess I could say that these traits are close to my personality. Other famous Os include Elvis and John Lennon. I guess I'm in good company.
Type AB is said to be cool, controlled, and rational, often sociable and popular, but aloof and indecisive. Both Marilyn Monroe and JFK are famous ABs, or so says the internet.
Finally, the most famous of the blood types in Korea is type B, the passionate, unpredictable individualist. These types are charismatic but are careless and overly selfish; there's no surprise that the type B guy is feared by women, as he's often labeled a playboy (would you believe Paul McCartney and Jack Nicholson are both Bs?). There was actually a movie made based on this theory, "B형 남자친구" ("My Boyfriend is Type B") about a type A introverted girl interested in a type B bad boy.
"My Boyfriend is Type-B" was a hit amongst movie-goers in Korea. (Photo: modcult.org)
Blood types have become more ingrained in Asian pop culture, as evidenced by t-shirts, key chains, mugs, and other nick-knacks sold in various stationary shops and novelty stores. From blood type diets to workplace order in Japan, the fascination with blood type can be seen in just about every realm of daily life; therefore, inquiring about one's blood type is not rude, but rather just the equivalent of the Western "What's your sign?"
I can't be certain, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was also mentioned in personal ads, too, as there are even guidelines stating which blood types are most compatible. Good news for type AB: you are compatible with everyone! For the rest of us, well, I guess we'll have to find out via trial and error, all the while keeping a keen eye out for those unpredictable Bs.