The azure dragon is the guardian of the East. Although, it should be pointed out, in My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox this is revealed to be a rumour that ruined the main character’s reputation and kept her from landing a husband. Curupira is a gnome like creature belonging to … Many of them have jumped straight from the pages of myth and into popular culture. Dokkaebi are endowed with a few magical items. Probably the most confusing of all these creatures, the three-legged crow known as samjoko seems the most like it just shouldn’t exist. Required fields are marked *. Eggbun promises to be your Korean tutor and conversation partner. Gumiho (구미호) is a nine-tailored fox. Like Chinese mythology, Korea has its own polar guardians, but if you’ve seen D-Wars, you’ve probably had enough of dragons. 구미호 Gumiho (Nine-tailed fox) The Gumiho, known as a Nine-tailed fox is also one of the popular … Please let me know. It remains as a symbol of the Goguryeo Dynasty, and can still be seen in contemporary Korean historic dramas, such as Jumong. Cheonma as depicted on logos for: Seongnam FC, Chungnam Women’s FC, Cheonma Cement The gamtu (감투), or hat, grants them invisibility. This book will examine how both myth and fact contributed to the culture and traditions of the Koreans, and how these influences and some stories continue to live on throughout the centuries. These Japanese monsters are seen as mischievous tricksters, though this can range to the downright diabolical such as kidnapping or raping women. Korean mythology consists of national legends and folk-tales which come from all over the Korean Peninsula. Modern variations also splice in parts from the golden pheasant, mandarin duck, peacock, crane, and parrot. Some also draw parallels of this beast with the Waheela gian… Kala is a ferocious monster symbolic of time in its all-devouring aspect and associated with the destructive side of the god Shiva. At the Boseong Green Tea Plantation, a dragon is depicted holding the Yeouiju in its jaws (photo courtesy of Boseong County). A haechi statue sits in front of Gyeongbok Palace, protecting the nation from Yang energy (and small children). According to the original legend, Chollima was a winged horse who wanted to be tamed. The religion went into decline around a thousand years ago when Christianity swept through the north of Europe. An important distinction to make between dokkaebi and Chinese and Japanese monsters is that dokkaebi wish to live among people. Deriving from ancient Chinese myths and folklores, a fox that lives a thousand years turns into a kumiho, like its Japanese and Chinese counterparts. The Red Devils mascot is based on a type of dokkaebi (photo: Yonhap News). Michelle Bachmann’s worst nightmare? The bonghwang is a mythical bird of East Asia that is said to have dominion over all other birds. Dokkaebi - Korea. Dokkaebi exist in Korea, not in Japan. People are wont to carelessly refer to Korean dokkaebi or Japanese dokkaebi, but they are clearly mistaken. Myths and legends help explore those anxieties. Bulgasari: Another famous monster. Geography The Korean peninsula juts out from the mainland in Northeast Asia between China and Japan. Ihamrga is the representation of fabulous creatures in Hindu mythology. Unlike European dragons which generally breathed fire and lived in caves, Korean dragons lived in bodies of water and helped humanity. Scylla was a monster in Greek mythology that lived between two rocks near Italy and Sicily. They most often choose to transform into the form of a beautiful girl, and are rumoured to seduce men for the ultimate goal of eating their livers, or in some stories hearts. the manticore, which has a lion's body, bat wings, and a human head — but they have nothing on Japan. It’s a major part of Chinese mythology, often even replacing the rooster in the Chinese zodiac. The haechi originally was an animal, sort of a hybrid between a lion and a watchdog, with a horn in the center of its head. However, it cannot create the item out of thin air, thus obeying the Laws of Thermodynamics like a good little magic item; instead, the item is stolen from others. You can see gwishin all over Korean horror movies, and the Japanese version of the image went global thanks to the 1998 film The Ring. Despite the existence of tales (and SBS dramas) depicting the gumiho as good, or even as naive beings being exploited by evil humans, they have gained a reputation for being evil, sometimes feral beasts, depicted seducing men or robbing graves to eat the hearts of the recently deceased. Often symbolising justice, it was a common decoration of old Chinese and Joseon architecture. Also known as Senrima which means “a thousand mile horse”. Regardless of how they're used, urban legends remain a consistent and … Gumiho was also portrayed in a Korean drama called My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (내 여자친구는 구미호), a romantic comedy about a childish student and a Gumiho that wanted to become human. The bonghwang is a mythical bird of East Asia that is said to have dominion over all other birds. Dokkaebi, in other words, are exclusively Korean monsters. According to some stories, they are easily beaten by hooking their leg, as they only have one of those. They are said to have been transformed from inanimate objects, rather than the spirit of someone who has died. You might recognise that last one as the confectionery and beverage company of the same name. The dokkaebi is a mischievous creature, fond of practical jokes and games, but also known for rewarding good people. After they finish their final draft, they can make picture books. They are generally considered harmless, and have a penchant for challenging others to ssireum (a Korean style of wrestling). The three-legged crow Said to eat fire, they are places at the entrances to buildings and palaces to prevent them from burning down. Korean legends characterise a variety of mythical creatures, ghosts, monsters, and dragons. I think perhaps the image of Chollima as essentially Pegasus is a modern conceit, as older descriptions have wings on Chollima’s ankles. Having found no one able to tame him, he flew up into the sky. There are multiple versions of dokkaebi, which come in … The main character was actually a Dokkaebie that was looking for the human wife to end his immortal life. Starring Seung-gi Lee (이승기) and Min-ah Shin (신민아). Mythological creatures are in essence the manifestations of our biggest fears. Like pretty well every country, Korean legends make mention of dragons. However, Chollima is a far more influential figure in North Korea, where state propaganda brought him back to Earth and depicted him being tamed by the proletariat. The idea of a gwishin is very similar to western conceptions of ghosts: they are the restless souls of the dead who refuse to move on, usually because of something they haven’t completed. Only dragons with four claws could possess an orb, and lesser three-clawed dragons lacked the opposable thumbs to hold onto it. Dokkaebi (도깨비) are mischievous creatures that play jokes on bad people and grants good people’s wishes during the night. Due to conflicting definitions, the ri is either 393 meters or 2927 meters, the latter which was adopted by Korea during the Japanese imperial era, so I’m going to guess they’re referring to the first one. During the construction of Gyeongbok Palace, geomancers predicted that the “yang” energy from Gwanak Mountain across the river would bring disaster to the nation, so the haechi statues were built to cancel out this bad mojo. Korean creatures that transform from old inanimate … A kumiho (gumiho) (Korean pronunciation: ; Korean: 구미호; Hanja: 九尾狐, literally "nine-tailed fox") is a creature that appears in the tales and legends of Korea. Some legends say she had to starve for 1,000 or 100 days, some say that she had to eat human liver or heart 100 times. It is bigger than a turtle, but has a … They look like they want to challenge you to a wrestling match. Learn how your comment data is processed. The mogwai are demons who seek to harm a human. They reproduce sexually with the arrival of the rains, which symbolizes abundance and fertility. The bonghwang is composed of the beak of a rooster, the face of a swallow, the forehead of a fowl, the neck of a snake, the breast of a goose, the back of a tortoise, the hindquarters of a stag, and the tail of a fish. They protect against not only fire natural disasters but also all disruption or disruptive change, with their large mouths said to latch onto the past, refusing to let go. An imugi would become a dragon if it caught a Yeouiju falling from heaven. These days, the romanisation “Cheonma” is highly favoured, which can be found on anything from cement to soccer teams. While some myths suggest Crataeis was Scylla’s mother, Hecate was also linked to be the mother in some other myths. There are different legends about it but most say that Gumiho usually took a form of a beautiful woman and really wanted to become human. The Kappa lives in the rivers and waterways of Japan. A fantastical giant wolf from the barren lands of the Arctic, the Amarok is said to hunt alone in contrast to the pack tendencies of its much smaller brethren. Other times, multiple urban legends are combined to create a new mythology. Dokkaeki became very popular after the drama 도깨비 (Goblin) came out. For the purpose of this monster compendium, I’m going to focus on actual supernatural creature species, rather than individual legendary figures, to focus on the creatures themselves rather than the specific myths they’re tied to. It has the body of a bear, buffalo's eyes, elephant's nose and tiger's claws. Curupira (Brazilian Mythology) orig06.deviantart.net. The Chollima has lent its name to a Pyeongannam-do (South Pyeongan Province) county, as well as the national soccer team, a movie studio, and even North Korea’s 1956 answer to China’s Great Leap Forward, intended to promote rapid economic development (wanna guess how that worked out for them?). The Inmyeonjo (인면조) is the bird with the human face. But during the Goguryeo Dynasty, the samjoko was considered a symbol of power, superior to both the dragon and the bonghwang. Your email address will not be published. The chollima is an important symbol in North Korea because of how the creature is portrayed. Lovecraft Country finally revealed the military service of protagonist Atticus Freeman during the Korean War, which included a horrific encounter with one of the biggest monsters in Korean folklore: the kumiho. In artwork depicting dragons, it’s common to show the dragon clutching an orb known as Yeouiju, which was said to grant its bearer omnipotence. Warning: don’t let your kids play with a haechi. However, their image is striking and easily identifiable, and I’ve been taken aback by the strength of the belief so many Koreans have in ghosts, which are imagined to be found almost everywhere. The oldest records of them can be found in Samguk Yusa (written in the 13th century by Buddhist monk Iryeon) and Samguk Sagi (written in the 12th century by government official Kim Busik). Have I missed any other supernatural Korean creatures? In this list of supernatural creatures, I’m comfortable rating the gumiho (or nine-tailed fox) the third most popular, mainly due to their appearance in the 2010 TV drama “My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox.” Sounds like a particularly uncomfortable episode of Maury Povich. Although Korea’s dragons are comparable to Chinese dragons, there are a few factors that make Korean dragons unique. For in a culture's tales of death we can see what it is they value in life. These mythical creatures are similar to the widely known Grim Reapers, and were charged with the duty of guiding both good and evil souls to the afterlife. Of course not in real life, but their legends live on in various forms. Characteristics of a Goblin/Dokkaebi. Actresses depicting gumiho, from left clockwise: Noh Hyeon-hui, Park Min-young, Jeon Hye-bin. Korean dragons are associated with water and agriculture, a benevolent force often said to summon rain and clouds. Every culture has their own monster and each one tells its own story about what haunts or scares us. Your email address will not be published. by Charles La Shure. The most common type of gwishin is the cheo-nyeo gwishin, the departed soul of a maiden, but there is also mool gwishin, which I think is the ghost a of drowning victim, mongdal gwishin, the ghost of an unmarried man, and dalgyal gwishin, which is said to have a featureless egg for a head for some odd reason, and perhaps is just more like a basic ghost image like what you’d see in Pac-Man. So I am very excited before Halloween to introduce you to some of the legendary creatures of Korea. A gumiho is said to be a fox that has lived 1000 years, after which it gains the power of shapeshifting. The haechi should be recogniseable to anyone who’s been to Seoul, as it’s been the city’s symbol since 2009. Don’t worry. The face is modelled after Chiwoo Cheonwang, an influential figure in Korean and Chinese mythology who stood as a figure for victory and guardianship. Follow our curriculum and chat with Lanny in Korean! The dokkaebi is a good place to start, as it was the focus of the museum I found up on Namsan. In Korea, the bonghwang has appeared on the royal emblem, and more recently the presidential emblem, and there is a statue of it at Cheong Wa Dae. Most dragons were originally imugi, a type of lesser or juvenile dragon resembling a giant serpent. The presidential logo, seen here on President Park Jeong-hui’s podium, depicts two bonghwang facing each other (photo: Yonhap News). It had six heads with three rows of sharp teeth. It’s a major part of Chinese mythology, often even replacing the rooster in the Chinese zodiac. When the morning comes, they disappear by turning into inanimate objects. An impressive 46-meter-tall statue of Chollima was built in downtown Pyongyang, depicting the winged horse carrying on his back a worker holding a Korean Workers Party address and a woman carrying rice. The best way to learn Korean is to live in Korea. It is romanised many different ways, with the Chinese version xiezhi (sure to give any Scrabble player a heart attack), and the more Korean haetae, or Haitai. Of course, she was still encouraged to drink blood, and told that her boyfriend must die after 100 days. Many believe the legend of this lone wolf actually comes from real-time ecological periods when the untraveled deep woods were indeed populated by larger varieties of wolves (like the better known dire wolves). It made me curious about what other kinds of mythical creatures lie buried in Korea’s past. This is just like the Pegasus where the horse has wings. A while ago, I was riding around Sowol-gil on the slope of Namsan when I stumbled across what appeared to be a museum on mythical Korean monsters. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Many are derived from Chinese legends, but with their own unique Korean spin. The myth must explain how that feature was formed. From mythical foxes and shape-shifting raccoon dogs to vengeful spirits and human-eating spiders, Japanese folklore is full of fascinating creatures born from people’s observations of the inexplicable. The Qilin, also spelled Kylin, Kirin, or Kỳ lân (Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese) is a mythical hoofed Chinese chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures, and is said to appear in conjunction with the arrival of a sage. Korean mythology is intricate, complex, and the ideals behind some of their mythological beliefs were often intertwined with real-life events. After the Korean War, the North Koreans started using the slogan “Charge forward with the speed of Chollima!” Today, Chollima is greatly significant in North Korean public discourse, reminding them to devote their lives to hard work. HWANUNG – The god of the laws and father of the demigod Tangun, one of the important founder- … They love cucumbers. Technically gwishin belong to a different category from the other entries here, which are all considered monsters while gwishin is essentially the ghost of someone who died. In one story, the gumiho transforms into a male form in order to seduce a woman. Goblin (dokkaebi) Goblin, also known as dokkaebi in Korean, is a creature familiar to people who’ve … Another extremely popular Korean legend that is being used in recent dramas is that of the Jeosung Saja; also known as Netherworld Emissaries. It is portrayed as a horse that can fly at very high speeds. Monsters. Western cultures have many myths and legends that we are familiar with. Korean legends are full of mythical creatures and today I will tell you about some of them. In more traditional stories, the gumiho retains more of its foxlike nature, with some stories depicting them as more of a half-fox half-human, or were-fox. They may move objects around, and their presence is accompanied by an eerie feeling, a light breeze, or a cold sensation, very much like western ghosts. If you ever find yourself in a match with a dokkaebi, remember never to push them from the left side, only from the right. Some dragons were even said to be sentient, capable of understanding complex emotions. For instance, the ancient Greeks had their minotaurs and cyclopes, the middle ages had elves and dwarves, every culture had dragons, and even the relatively young culture of North America has Bigfoot and Chupacabra. Thank you for a very interesting and informative article. I’d love to see more movies do to Korea’s mythical creatures what films like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ginger Snaps, and Twilight (okay, maybe let’s forget that one) have done for vampires and werewolves. Like Chinese mythology, Korea has its own polar guardians, but if you’ve seen D-Wars, you’ve probably had enough of dragons. The Korean Mythological Bestiary The bulgasari is an unusual hybrid creature. Dokkaebi, also known as Korean goblins, possess extraordinary powers and abilities that are used to interact with humans, at times playing tricks on them and at times helping them. Supernatural Creatures of Korean Mythology, by JonDunbar. Korean mythology. The image of the dokkaebi ranges between a demonic figure and a conventional troll, right down to the club. The term “ Mo ” is derived from the Sanskrit Mara and means “evil” (the word “Māra” comes from … Follow our curriculum and chat with Lanny in Korean! The Chollima is one of the more straightforward creations of Korean legend, as it can be very easily likened to the Greek Pegasus. 7) Tsuchigumo. In recent times, illustration has become the core component to create the identity of any product…, This is what 500 years of graphic design in print looks like, Why Typography Matters — Especially At The Oscars. The more I looked into it, the more I discovered that many of Korea’s legendary beings are still with us. Gwishin are usually women or girls with long black hair, and most commonly they are depicted wearing white funerary clothes. In most stories their motivation is revenge, but there can be other reasons. Let the students share their myths with the rest of the class. These two history books are based on much older records that are currently lost. Bonghwang. In East Asian mythologies, the three-legged crow is a symbol of the Sun and is said to live there. Mogwai/Mogui. Kappa. The gumiho has been depicted in Korean media numerous times; as well as the SBS drama they’ve been the center of the 1994 film The Fox with Nine Tails, the 2006 musical comedy The Fox Family, and the 2007 animated film Yobi, the Five-Tailed Fox. Dokkaebi are legendary creatures from Korean mythology and folklore. Also like western ghosts, most gwishin are depicted as floating, legless, and translucent. King Arthur and Excalibur, the Loch Ness Monster; the Boogeyman; Bigfoot, Leprechauns, and many others. A cheonyeo gwishin was depicted in the 1999 Korean film Ring Virus, based on the Japanese book. The creature was described by Homer as a monster with twelve feet and six long necks. Greek mythology is known for its variety of mixed-up monsters — e.g. The Inmyeonjo took part in the opening ceremony of 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics as an important part of Korean folklore and the symbol of peace. Norse mythology – including the stories of Odin, Thor and Loki – was the basis of the religion of the Viking warriors that plundered Europe from the 8 th to the 11 th centuries. Korean legends are full of mythical creatures and today I will tell you about some of them. To understand more about the character and scope of Korean mythology and folklore, it is necessary to have at least a brief background in the history and geography of the country. But they tell us about more than mortal fear alone. A staple of fairy tales and mythology, the kumiho is the Korean interpretation of the nine-tailed spirit foxes that also appear in Chinese and Japanese folklore. It is said to come to this world when there’s peace on earth. Korea’s mythology is filled with incredible supernatural creatures, and I’d love to see more of them brought forward into the modern world, much the way the gumiho has been, or other famous movie monsters in the western world such as vampires and werewolves. 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