Unless you’re in an extremely formal business setting, Koreans tend to ask a lot of personal questions. It’s just that we want to get to know you personally; it’s not as if we think we’re asking a lot of private information, it’s just what we want to know to get to know you better. Among those personal questions, you might get taken aback with the question which some of the younger generation might ask: “What is your bloodtype?”
Now why would anyone ask that, you might wonder. And some of you actually might not know. As most Koreans take a form of the bloodtype test in middle school biology class while learning the law of heredity, even if we might not ask what your bloodtype may be, we most certainly know what our own bloodtype is, so we’re surprised in return when someone doesn’t know. (Although, the biology class test isn’t 100% accurate so some people get surprised during medical checkups in their adult years.)
Anyhow, why would people ask? It’s because there is a theory that bloodtypes have certain personality traits associated to them, and although it’s not a common belief nor do people take it truly seriously, most people are aware of the theory and refer to it from time to time. It’s often mentioned in popular culture, especially in comedy and parody.
Despite being well-known a theory and people being aware there are no hard scientific facts to back this theory, unfortunately not many people are aware of the theory’s history, of its dark origins. The ABO bloodtype system was established in the early 20th century and besides medical reasons, it was the base theory for “scientific” racism used by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Somehow all this background information disappeared over the times and the bloodtype-character traits connection developed into something light like the link between astrological signs and personality.
So what are the personality traits attributed to each bloodtype? What are the common stereotypes? Here’s a quick look.
TYPE A is the good student. They try not to upset order; they dislike disruption and confrontation, and as a result try to stick to rules as much as possible and do things perfectly. They are reliable and have great tolerance and endurance. With a tendency to overanalyze, they are worrywarts and fret about things that might go wrong if things aren’t done properly. Because they don’t want to upset anyone, they take many people’s opinions into consideration so they are mostly regarded as the most kind and nice. However, this trait means they wind up being quite slow at making decisions. When coming upon an unknown bridge, they would take time to make sure anything and everything is 100% safe before crossing. Although usually introverts, there is the occasional extrovert with great leadership qualities who has managed to externalize the “serve others” attitude. Paying much attention to other peoples’ emotions means they are quite acute to their own feelings, which get easily hurt. Despite being very understanding, when greatly hurt they don’t forgive nor do they forget.
TYPE B is the egomaniac. Extremely self-centered and unabashed about it, they have strong belief systems and also have the skills and charisma to convince others. They are adventurous, full of curiosity and despite being initially suspicious, make friends quite quickly and easily. They rarely have the perseverance to plan things out and usually do things as they feel or on a whim. Being tied down to anything is one of their greatest fears, and “freedom” is hailed as an important motto. They are frequently accused of being playboys and commitment-phobes. Being bored is another great fear and they will continuously come up with creative ideas and things to do. They have to be amused and interested in something at all times and will show tremendous concentration in things that interest them, but will thoughtlessly dismiss anything uninteresting to them. Quick to make decisions, also quick in reading other people – they sometimes show amazing insight to other people’s characters and might be called “mindreaders”. They always have to say what’s on their mind and as a result, make as many enemies as friends. They forgive and they forget – sometimes they forget too much.
TYPE O is the class clown. The one to make any room brighter, they thrive on the attention and smiles of others. Happy-go-lucky, cheerful, very friendly, and also very practical, they have a competitive streak that shows off their determination. They are greedy in work, in love, almost everything. They have distinct boundaries and stick to them: they rarely mix work with pleasure, although to the less observant it might not seem so. Even though they might seem clumsy, details rarely escape them and they’re often gifted with good memory. They’re most likely to go over the top at any occasion and are often the organizers of parties and get-togethers. Once they put their mind to something they diligently carry it out and rarely get distracted. They have a great sense of justice and are good at categorizing and prioritizing in a haphazardous way. Because they usually are immensely cheerful in nature, once they get mad they get scary mad. They cannot endure loneliness so they tend to trust people wholeheartedly and when that trust is broken they fall into great despair. They are willing to forgive but will never, ever, forget.
TYPE AB is the riddle. The loner, the enigma, the one who marches to a different drummer. Very analytical and observant, but also very detached, they rarely make their feelings known voluntarily and even when asked, will reply with a vague and unclear answer. They don’t care about what others think of them and might be considered anti-social, but oddly enough, they work extremely well in social settings and are quite willing to aid others. Living in a world of their own, they might not differentiate between their self-created world and the actual world around them but this rarely affects their everyday life. (It mostly affects those around them.) The meaning of competition evades them as their value structure is uniquely individual. They are not good team players, although they won’t do anything to hurt the team. A wide range of interests make them very knowledgeable and creative. They possess great individual style. About forgiving and forgetting, they don’t even understand what there is to be forgiven or forgotten.
Such are some of the basic stereotypical characteristics by bloodtype. According to these traits, when the four bloodtypes are in the same room, the quiet TYPE A would be near the wall so as not to attract attention, self-centered TYPE B would naturally go to the center of the room, TYPE AB would be daydreaming in a corner, and TYPE O would be walking around the whole room socializing.
When people do ask your bloodtype – it’s most likely people who know of these basic stereotypes who ask – you can probably guess that they’re trying to get hints about your personality, even if they do admit that it’s not 100% accurate. As I’ve mentioned before, not many people take this truly seriously. Even the popular webtoon “A Simple Thinking about Bloodtype” (above) always has the disclaimer on the bottom stating that this theory has not been proven scientifically, that it isn’t a “truth”, and that the webtoon should be read “just for fun”.
So the next time someone who is not in a medical profession casually asks you what your bloodtype is, just take it into stride and answer lightly. Me, being the infamously obnoxious type B, I answer by saying, “I’m type B with the really bad character so don’t ever try to mess with me or I’ll make you regret it” and give them a beatific, angelic smile.