Origin of Gosure
This legend narrates the origins of the folk custom gosure, the practice of throwing into the air a small morsel of food prior to eating outdoors, while calling out, “Gosure!” In ancient records including Hwandangogi (Ancient Records of Hwandan) and Gyuwonsahwa (Historical Tales from Gyuwon), gosure is depicted as a practice that originated from the custom of offering food, prior to eating, to Gosi, or He with Surname Go, who oversaw farming and cattle during the reign of Dangun, Korea’s progenitor. It is viewed to as an act of prayer for a good harvest, and thus interpreted as a narrative constructed to justify or explain the reasons for offering food sacrifice and the spell gosure.
Once upon a time in a village lived a man with the surname Go, who led a difficult life with no one to depend on. People working in the field felt sorry for him and shared their food. When Go grew old, he died without any descendents and was buried in the plains, after which people began throwing their first spoon of food into the air to offer Go’s poor spirit, while shouting, “Gossine!” The identity of the protagonist varies according to the many versions of this tale feature. One features a woman with the surname Go who was the mother of Doseon, a Buddhist monk from late Silla, and when she dies, a burial site that will ensure a continuous supply of food for her is sought out, and people begin offering her food before eating, which is related to the traditional geomantic belief in locating burial sites (eumtaekpungsu). Other variations include a man with the surname Go who dies after performing charitable acts, or a boatman who meets an underserved death. The act of offering food to the dead protagonist results in compensation, usually good fortune for the person who offers the food, including rain after a long period of drought, or the healing of abdominal pain.
The study of this legend has been concentrated on the etymology of the term gosure, the origins of the narrative, and its significance as a tale related to geomantic belief, defining the term gosure as the act of performing the offering, as the spell, and the sacrifice, in this case the first spoon of the served food.
The legend of the origins of gosure is transmitted around the country.