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Tiger Offers Ride for Dutiful Son

This tale narrates the story of a tiger who, upon being moved by a dutiful son’s filial piety, offers him favors. A long time ago in a village lived a dutiful son who was so poor he could not afford food for his mother, and he had to ask for food from the family he worked for as a farmhand, and ride on the back of a tiger to serve the food to his mother. There was another dutiful son who had to travel far to get medicine for his ailing father and a tiger appeared and let him ride on its back. An

Korean Folk Literature

Nose Ring for Cows

Soekotture is the term for the wooden ring attached to the nose of a cow, also used as a sorcery tool for keeping out evil spirits. These nose rings are made with tree branches between 2 and 3 centimeters thick, the bark stripped and fastened with rope to be shaped into a ring. Cows are big, powerful animals, but once the nose ring is attached, the pain confines them to a life that is constrained by humans. The nose ring, therefore, was a symbolic tool that connotes eternal confinement, and ther

Korean Folk Beliefs

Lit. prenatal education

Taking care in speech, behavior and thought by a pregnant woman to have a good impact on the fetus. The pregnant woman makes efforts to lead a virtuous life, to see and hear good things, and to do good deeds that will have a good impact on the fetus in her womb. These efforts are called taegyo, or prenatal education, which includes not only what should be done but also what should not be done by the expectant mother. First, the pregant woman should not visit a place that is not considered a good

Korean Rites of Passage

Yeongsan Wooden Bull Fight

Yeongsan Soemeori Daegi (Kor. 영산쇠머리대기, Chin. 靈山-, lit. Yeongsan wooden bull fight) is a Great Full Moon Festival (fifteenth of the first lunar month) activity of Yeongsan village (Yeongsan-myeon, Changnyeon-gun, South Gyeongsang Province). It is a war game involving the use of a tool known as soemeori (Kor. 쇠머리, lit. ox head). In 1969 Yeongsan Soemeori Daegi was designated as Important Intangible Cultural Treasure No. 25. On the Great Full Moon Day the people of Yeongsan-myeon divided into two t

Korean Seasonal Customs

Village Guardian Post

Jangseung is a wooden or stone figure carved in human form and erected in the entrance of a village, temple or mountain pass to serve as guardian deity. Alternate terms include jangsaeng, beoksu and susalmok, but jangseung is the most common. The practice of erecting these guardian posts goes back to ancient times and many villages held rituals to worship them. While its most important function was to protect the village or temple against diseases, bad fortune, and tiger attacks and to preserve

Korean Folk Beliefs

Rice Tomb

Bammudeom, a term that literally means, “rice tomb, ” refers to the hole for burying the steamed rice (me) that had been offered as sacrifice, a practice observed as part of village tutelary festivals (dongje) in South Gyeongsang Province. Rice tombs are generally located under the village guardian tree (dangsannamu) or a spot considered clean, or under the poles of the four directions in the village. Rice tombs are built in a range of forms, which vary by region: Some in the form of stone stack

Korean Folk Beliefs

Divine Pole

Sindae, literally spirit-receiving pole, is a bamboo pole or rod used in Korean folk religion to receive, or to move, a god, from the sky, from deep inside the mountaiun, or from a shrine. An alternate version of the term is singan, and these poles also serve as markers of prohibited spaces, and include village guardian deity poles (seonangdae), farmings flags (nonggi) and sacred poles (sotdae). Divines poles are generally used for village tutelary rituals (dongje) and also during shamanic ritua

Korean Folk Beliefs

Tiger That Helped the Widowed Daughter-in-Law

This tale narrates the story of a widowed daughter- in-law who did not remarry despite the urging of her parents and cared for her father-in-law, and a tiger who helped her, moved by her dedication. A long time ago there lived a daughter-in-law who was widowed at a young age. Her parents insisted that she remarry, but she did not comply, and instead devoted herself to the care of her widowed and ill father-in-law. Her parents, tired of waiting for their daughter, one day sent her news that her m

Korean Folk Literature
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