Korean mythology

From Academic Kids

Korean mythology consists of national legends & folk-tales which come from the all over the Korean peninsula. Considering the size of the area there is a remarkable amount of variation which has occurred. Even so it is possible to make some generalisations.

The original religion of Korea was a form of the Eurasian Shamanism, though it shows some similarity with the original religion of China & Taoism, though there has been a mass conversion to Christianity amongst the population in the modern times. It is contended by some that after the Korean War Koreans became embarrassed about their own mythology and though many figures are still alive in the consciousness of the general population, much of the oral tradition about the relationship between the mythological figures has been lost. While Tangun is still remembered as a semi-historical dynasty, much else regarding the family of Gods he descends from has been brushed away from the national consciousness. A prime example of this was during the 1988 Summer Olympic Games when there was a crack-down on the genuine local shamans out of embarrassment. There are now very few practitioners of the ancient Korean religions in Seoul and charlatans have quickly gobbled up the former shaman audience in the quest to exploit people seeking spirituality.


It seems that out of an initial chaos the world was formed and a race of giants set up the stars in the heavens, and separated them from a deepness of water. When their job was finished they fell into an eternal slumber and their bodies became the islands and mountains etc.

Of the first people to dwell on the earth, a brother and sister Haesik & Dalsoon play an important role in becoming the sun and the moon. The negative nature of the Tiger people is established in their story though over time stories concerning some of the Tiger people illustrate their redemption.

7 Hwanins ruled a country in succession from 7193-3898 BCE their country spreading 50,000-li north to south and 20,000-li east to west comprising of twelve Dongyi nations. Bak-dal Nara, the first Dongyi state of Greater Mongolia stretching from the Stanovoy mountains in the Lake Baikal vicinity from the North to the Yangtze River in the south (including present Jiangsu, Shanghai, and Anhui) and the Russian Maritime Provinces in the East to Dunhuang in the west is established in 3898 BCE ruled by the first of 18 Hwanungs. Tangun the son of the last Huanung recorded in Korean memory Kuh-bul-dan established Korea in 2333BC.

Some important mythological figures

  • Hanle-nim -The Heavenly Emperor, Ruler of Heaven and Earth.
  • OwgHoangSangJoe - Jade Yellow Emperor
  • Dal(soon)-nim -The moon, sister of the sun.
  • Hae(sik)-nim -The sun brother of the moon.
  • Chonha Dae Changgun -Village Guardian & General under Heaven husband of-
  • Chiha Yo Changgun -Village Guardian & General of the Underworld.
  • Sanshilyong/Sanshin -The God of The Mountains
  • Yongwang -The Dragon King of the seas
  • Mago, the most famous one of the giants, who became the island of Cheju
  • Hwanin -The Heavenly initiator a title of 7 rulers on earth.
  • Hwanung -The son of Heaven & dynasty of rulers in Greater Mongolia.
  • Ungnyo -The Bear who became a woman & mother of Tangun.
  • Tangun son of Hwanung -The first Korean Emperor the first Korean dynasty.
  • Sonyo -Daughters of Heaven
  • Kyonu & Jingyo who weep the summer rainy season
  • JowsSyngSaJa - Angels of Death
  • Chi Woo - The Korean pendant to Chi You .

Supernatural creatures

  • Kumiho -A Nine-tailed fox woman
  • Tokkebi (Gremlins)
  • Tiger -an initially despised nation who later took control of Korea.
  • Turtle errant of the sea palace.
  • The Rabbit in The Moon
  • The Stalk
  • The Deer
  • Yongma -Dragon horses of Cheju
  • Chonma -The Celestial Horse
  • Blue Dragon -Tomb guardian of one of the four directions
  • White Tiger -Tomb guardian of one of the four directions
  • Black Turtle -Tomb guardian of one of the four directions
  • Red Phoenix - -Tomb guardian of one of the four directions
  • Bonghwang -Firebird, see also Fenghuang (Chinese)
  • Three-Legged-Bird
  • Yugi -a magical bronze metal

See also


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