Korean Mythology – 11 Mystical Creatures and Hidden Folklores!
Mythology and Folklore has always been the backbones of every country and every culture. That’s one inheritance that many people are interested to listen. Korea is the same, Korean mythology and legends are popular among many koreans and korea lovers all over the world.
I believe you might already knew some of korean myths from watching historical korean dramas or supernatural korean movies.
After surfing the net and look at some resources, I want to share to you the things I knew about some gods in korean mythology and the story behind it.
Make sure to read until the end so you will have an understanding when you watch supernatural or historical kdramas which include some of these gods. Let’s take a look at these deities.
Table of Contents
Korean mythology or myths are a combination of local citizen folktales and influence of religions which spread at the time the myths were created.
Most of the myth were oral form and passed down through generations. Some of the mythological stories can be logical while some others are more into the supernaturals.
Gods and Creatures In Korean Mythology
There are actually tons of myths in South Korea in terms of gods and mystical creatures, here are some popular gods you might already seen in some korean dramas.
1. Dokkaebi (Korean Goblin)
Dokkaebi or known as Goblin, is one of the most popular korean dramas of all time popularized by Gong Yoo. However, korean goblin is actually a mystical creatures with one leg on the right side and always frighten people that look at them.
This mystical creatures is known to love riddles, jokes and also love to carry magical stuff.
For your information, it is believed that goblin was formed from discarded object that has a human blood on it. The famous korean dramas goblin is actually really far of the real goblin in korean mythology.
2. Gwisin (Ghosts)
Gwisin, literally mean ghost or spirit of those who died unpeacefully. Most of this spirit usually have some issues that hold them here, whether it is vengeance or desire they haven’t accomplish.
If you watch the other famous myth kdrama title Korean Odyssey, you knew that gwisin is commonly found in an isolated buildings or cemetery.
The special type and story of gwisin is ‘Cheonyeo Gwisin‘ or known as ‘Virgin Ghost‘ and ‘Mulgwisin‘ or ‘Water Ghost‘.
Legends believed that Virgin ghost became ghost because they never get married in this life, while Water ghost died lonely by drown in the water like han river.
3. Gumiho (Nine-tailed fox)
Gumiho is another famous korean dramas you might already watch, the Nine-tailed fox!
This gods is actually form by a couple with 2 son having huge desire to have a daughter. They wish and pray to get a daughter, even if it is a fox. Thus their wish came true tragically, because this fox-girl end up killing all the family member.
This gods is a fox-like creatures with ability to transform into a beautiful lady, she loves to seduce men and eat their soul out of them.
However, if gumiho can master herself and hold from eating human flesh for a thousand days, then she can be human forever.
4. Yong / Mireu (True Dragon)
Credit to Aminoapps
Korean dragons, which is influenced by Chinese is a mystical creatures related to water and agriculture. Legends believed that dragon is the cause of the rainy seasons.
The difference between korean and chinese dragon is that korean true dragons have a long beard and carry an orb which is known as yeouiju.
Yeouiju is a mythical Cintamani or known as the fulfilling stone that fall from heaven.
5. Haetae / Haechi (Lion creature)
Credit to Pixabay
Haetae is an iconic creatures you can easily find in a lot of building in South Korea. This mystical creature resemble a lion covered in armor-like scales and have a curled horn on it’s head.
People believed this creatures is a guardian that will shoo away evil omen, natural disaster and also attract good omen.
6. Daltokki (Moon rabbit)
Credit to Gwangjunewsgic
Daltokki, known as Moon rabbit or Jade rabbit is a korean mystical creature found from noticing that if we stare at the full mean, we can see a shape of rabbit pounding rice cakes under cinnamon tree.
The legend of the Moon Rabbit is really touching every people’s heart.
The story begin with the coming of Heaven’s Great Emperor to a village, disguised Himself as a beggar. Inside this village, there are three creatures living together, a rabbit, fox and monkey.
This beggar then ask this three creatures to bring him something to eat. Afterwards, all three generous animal quickly gather all they can to him.
The fox give him a fish, the monkey give him fruits, while the rabbit, being the weakest and small animal, can only bring some grass that he could gather in his little mouth.
Ashamed of his bad offering to the beggar, he ignite the grass that he gathered for the beggar and threw himself into the flamed as the self sacrificial meat for the beggar.
This act really touch the Heaven’s Great Emperor which makes Him place this rabbit in the moon as it’s guardian and surrounded him with a smoke as a reminder for all creatures of his noble death.
Thus, now this creatures became the icon for the most important holiday in Korea, Chuseok.
7. Jeosung Saja (Korean Grim Reaper)
Credit to Homoludentic
Jeosung Saja, is korean grim reaper, which we all know, they’re the killer of the soul or the spirit that came at the near end of human’s life.
They help people’s soul to get out of their body and guide them to the unknown world name afterlife. Legends believed that if someone see grim reaper, it is a very concerning and bad sign.
8. Bulgae (Fire dogs)
Credit to powerlisting
Bulgae, as known as fire dogs are the type of mystical dogs that came from underworld, the kingdom of darkness called ‘Gamangnara’ in Korean. People believed that this creatures is the cause of lunar or solar eclipse.
Here’s the story behind it. One day, the king of Gamangnara concern about his kingdom and thus he sent out bulgae to bring the moon and the sun to his kingdom.
Unfortunately, every time bulgae try to carry the sun, they got burn by the heat, and as they try to carry the moon, they got freeze by the cold.
However, this king is stubborn and stupid, so he keep sending another bulgae which cause lunar and solar eclipse everytime they try.
9. Samjoko (Three-legged crow)
Credit to warriorsofmyth
Samjoko, the three legged crow is one of the primary symbol during Goguryeo eras.
They believed that this creatures live in the sun and thus people think they are sun gods that burn the world. This gods is actually adopted from chinese myth called ‘sanzuwu’.
10. Bulgasari (Metal Eater Beast)
Bulgasari is a mystical bloodthirsty creatures with a bears body with elephant nose, rhino’s eyes, cow’s tail and tiger’s legs.
The story begins in Goryeo Dynasty, when a buddhist monk running for his life from the government. Back then, the teaching of Buddhism was illegal, so he run away and hide from the officials.
One day he created a small figure out of rice grain and feed it needles. However, this creatures began to grow massively and make a mess.
Knowing this, the officials came with arrow and swords to kill this giant creatures, but with no result.
Bulgasari have the ability to eat all the metal weapons threw at him. Even worse, it grew in size and power by eating metals.
In the end, they plan to kill this beast wih fire but Bulgasari end up take all of the fire back to burn the village.
Thus the story ends bad for the officials. However, some believed that this beast was stopped by the monk.
11. Bonghwang (Phoenix)
Bonghwang is the mystical creature that dominating the birds world. The males were called Feng and females Huang, symbols of virtue and grace.
This creatures have the face of swallow, forehead of a fowl, neck of snake, breast of goose, back of tortoise and the tail of fish.
Historically, bonghwang is the iconic creatures seen among the royals, the queens and empresses.
Thus, now you can also find this creatures at the blue house and presidential emblem.
These are all the korean mythology, folktales and mystical creatures I can share to all of you guys. I wish this article will be helpful in giving you information about Korean history.
Even tho we know all of these were only legends, story, folktales and myths, I wish this myths entertain you and help you imagine of the world out of this world.
If you have any other knowledge about korean mystical creatures and myths, feel free to share it in the comment sections below!
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