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In Vietnam, fortune tellers read tea leaves live on Facebook

Thursday, August 08, 2019, 19:05 GMT+7
In Vietnam, fortune tellers read tea leaves live on Facebook
This Tuoi Tre cartoon illustrates the popularity of fortune telling on Facebook in Vietnam. 'Bói' means fortune telling and 'bán' is the Vietnamese equivalent of selling.

In Vietnam, where ages-old traditions constantly conflict with modern trends, superstition is in many ways finding its own resurgence on social media platforms where local fortune tellers are making a killing by live-streaming themselves predicting life and future for the masses.

The prominence of superstition is hard to miss in most Asian countries, and Vietnam is no exception. 

Throughout the country many people revolve their lives around behaviors that they believe will bring them fortune, a habit commonly manifested in seeking out spiritual mediums to gain insights into what the future holds in terms of family, love, and career.

Refusing to get left behind by technology, many of the country’s so-called fortune tellers are turning to Facebook live-streams to offer their customers advice on how to avoid bad omens and make the most out of good ones.

Those who want a reading simply drop a request in the comment section and the teller will tell their fortune. 

A simple reading is usually free, but customers who want details on what the future has in store often find themselves shelling out hundreds of thousands of dong.

A fortune teller who goes by Dinh Ngoc Tr. on Facebook has garnered over 93,000 followers, many of whom are willing to pay VND500,000 (US$21.5) for a 40-minute reading.

One Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter reached out to self-proclaimed fortune teller Ngo Viet D. on Facebook for a reading. 

The reporter was then told that she was haunted and would have to transfer VND2.6 million ($112) in order to “cut the link with this soul” so that she could find good fortune in her love life.

A man watches a fortune telling service on Facebook livestream. Photo: Tuoi Tre News

A man watches a fortune telling service in a Facebook live-stream. Photo: Son Luong / Tuoi Tre News

‘Curiosity killed the cat’

Critics of fortune telling say that it has no basis in art or science, but it is simply an easy way for con artists to take advantage of gullible believers.

L.T.T.T., a 21-year-old Facebook user, told Tuoi Tre that she recently used the fortune telling service on Facebook out of curiosity. 

The fortune teller T. contacted claimed he could foresee the future by reading serial numbers on random banknotes provided by the customer.

T. then used two different Facebook accounts to send the seer a picture of the same banknote, but received two contrary readings for her career.

“That fortune teller told me that I would not have to worry about my career, and while speaking to my other account, he asserted that my career would not be stable,” T. recounted.

After attracting a certain number of followers, online fortune tellers attempt to persuade their following to buy special items, including bracelets, necklets, paper amulets, and lipsticks marketed as protection against evil, danger, or disease.

These items cost anywhere from VND4 million ($172) to more than VND10 million apiece. ($1 = VND23,256)

Notably, a Facebook fortune teller named Ngo Thuy H. even sells a ‘magical oil’ produced from a mixture of fat and blood that she claims attracts business opportunities and sales.

The ‘magic oil’ can also help whoever uses it accumulate greater fortune and wealth or bring them mesmerizing love, H. claimed.

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