Saturday, August 4, 2012

Saturday Legend Post -- Korean Myths

Man, writing 'Saturday Legend Post' looks so weird.

Anyway, I found a fun site that has a bunch of short blips on Korean Myths. I'm poking through it to find some of the more interesting -- and less strange -- ones to put up here. I personally have always found myths to be interesting. I used to love Greek and Egyption mythology, though now the blatant immorality annoys me enough to make me less of a fan as I might have been. Bible stories are exciting enough, anyways, and also true.

Anyway, I still like looking thorugh myths now and then. Mythology really does give one significant insight to the culture and mindset of the people who created these myths in the first place. I and my family lived in Korea for a couple of years, and I've been doing a lot of British, Scottish, and Irish legends already, so I decided to hop over to the Land of the Morning Sun for a bit.

Dragon Carp
In Korean mythology, a poor fisherman once caught a gigantic carp but he set it free when it begged for mercy. Later it turned out the be the son of the Dragon-King, the ruler of the Ocean, who rewarded the fisherman richly.
Carps are revered in Japan and Korea as the symbol of youth, bravery, perseverance, strength, and self-defense; all qualities much admired, especially in warriors. The Koreans also regard it as a symbol of wealth. The Dragon Carp lived for a thousand years.

Samseong Myth
This myth tells of the first settlement on Cheju Island, located off the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula. In the beginning, before any people roamed the land, three demi-gods (Yangeulla, Koeulla, Pueulla) emerged from the ground. They wandered through the land and hunted, making clothes from the skins and subsisting on the meat. One day they discovered a large wooden chest on the eastern shore of the island. They opened up the chest and a messenger wearing a purple robe and red belt emerged. Also in the chest was a stone box, and inside were three girls wearing blue clothing, a calf, a colt, and the five grains (barley, rice, soybean, foxtail millet, and millet; in Korean folk literature these five grains represent all of agriculture).
The messenger announced that they had been sent from Byeongnang (some sources indicate that the messenger and girls came from Japan, which makes geographical sense). The king of that land had sent the girls to be the brides of the three demi-gods. After delivering his message, the messenger returned to his land on a cloud. The three demi-gods each married and went their separate ways, founding each their own village.

The legendary founder of the first Korean kingdom, Old Choseon, in 2333 BCE near modern P'yeongyang. His full name was Tangun Wanggeom, which is actually more of a title than a name; Tangun means "high priest" and Wanggeom means "king," symbolizing the spiritual and political power invested in the ruler. His father was Hwanung, son of Hwanin, emperor of heaven, and his mother was a bear who had been transformed into a woman. It has been speculated that the bear-woman transformation story indicates that the woman was from a bear totem clan. On a more symbolic level, though, the bear's passing of the test shows how highly early Koreans valued perseverance. It was not the strength and impetuosity of the tiger that helped the Korean people resist attacks from both China and Japan, but the determination and perseverance of the bear.

Heo Hwangok
First Queen of Kaya. According to legend, while Hwangok was a princess in Ayuta (in central India) she had a dream of King Suro. In her dream she learned that Suro had not yet found a queen, and both her parents agreed that she should go and become Suro's bride. She arrived in Kaya on a ship with a red sail and red flag, bearing treasure and gifts. When she was presented to the king she told him of her dream and the king knew immediately that this was heaven's chosen bride for him. They were married immediately, and the queen was greatly loved by all the people.

[all exerpts taken from]

I'd look up something more adventurous and action packed, but I am, in fact, sick. And life doesn't have to be all explosions and swordfights, right?

Dia duit,

Here's the music for yesterday.

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