Archenemy Reborn as Son
This tale narrates the story of a haunted spirit reborn as the sons of his archenemy, who take revenge by dying on the day of their success in the state examination.
Narratives about the revenge of haunted spirits is found in the shamanic myth “Chasabonpuri (Origin of Underworld Messenger Chasa)” and the shamanic song “Jimgajegut (Ritual for Jimgaje)” from Hamgyeong Province. The motif of being reborn as the offspring of an enemy for the purpose of revenge appears in a wide range of narratives in the Korean oral tradition.
Three silk vendors were lodging at a tavern, when the tavern owner couple, greedy for the vendors’ silk, killed all three of them and became rich. The couple went on to raise three beloved sons, who on the same day passed the state examinations but upon their return home, all died in front of their parents. The couple were so aggrieved that they asked the magistrate to investigate their deaths. The magistrate sent the messenger Gangnim to summon Jeoseungchasa (Messenger of the Underworld) and asked him what had happened, and the king of the underworld Yeomnawang explained that the three sons were reincarnations of the three silk vendors, seeking revenge for their deaths. Upon learning the truth, the magistrate ordered the execution of the couple. Jeoseungchasa, having witnessed Gangnim’s intelligence, requested the magistrate permission to appoint him as the messenger of the underworld.
“Chasabonpuri” is an archetypal shamanic narrative of sending off the dead to the underworld, which serves as an importance reference for understanding how Koreans viewed death. In the tale “Janghwahongnyeon, ” the haunted spirits appear themselves in front of the magistrate to ask for their grievances to be resolved, where as in this narrative, the spirits take revenge into their own hands.