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Bear Wharf

This legend narrates the origins of Gomnaru, a wharf in Ungjin-dong in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province, with a plot involving the marriage between human and animal. A long time ago, on Mt. Yeonmi (Swallow Tail), near what is known today as Gomnaru (Bear Wharf), was a huge cave, inside which lived a huge female bear. One day the bear kidnapped a man who was in the mountain to chop wood, and the two lived together in the cave. The man, unable to escape the bear’s captivity, survived on the food

Korean Folk Literature

Divine Knife

Sinkal, or divine knife, is a prop used by a shaman when staging a ritual. Sinkal comes in many shapes, names, and functions. Its range of size or shape includes small or large; with handle or without; straight or curvilinear; with fixed blade or a bending blade; with steel blade or wooden blade. Other terms for the shaman’s knife include mukal, sinmyeongdo, daesinkal, and daemusinkal. Specific names of the knives can be categorized by shape, by the deity that they represent, or by function. The

Korean Folk Beliefs

Crown Prince Sado

Sadoseja (1735-1762) was the second son of Yeongjo (1694-1776), the 21st king of Joseon, who was locked inside a wooden chest and left to die as a victim of political sacrifice, and later deified and worshipped by the people. Crown Prince Sado’s birth name was Yi Seon and was named at age two as the heir to the throne. He was a brilliant child, talented in reading and writing, showing keen interest in politics as well, and starting at the age of fifteen, ruled as prince-regent. However, he grew

Korean Folk Beliefs

General Choe Yeong

Choe Yeong Janggun (1316-1388) was a military commander in late Goryeo (918-1392), revered and later deified, as a defender of the state against the invasions of the Red Turbans (Honggeonjeok) and the Japanese, and maintained peace by sending reinforcements to Yuan China and suppressing domestic turmoil. General Choe Yeong is one of several martial gods worshipped in Korean shamanism originated from historical figures. While serving as the highest chancellor in the 14th year of the reign of King

Korean Folk Beliefs

Talking Terrapin

This tale narrates the story of a good son who acquires wealth with the help of a talking terrapin. A long time ago there lived a poor mother and son. As the holidays approached, the son went to the mountain to get wood, and as he was muttering to himself about his worries about preparing holiday food he heard a voice repeating his words like a parrot. He searched after the voice and under a rock, found a terrapin repeating his words. He took the terrapin home and travelled to Seoul, where he pu

Korean Folk Literature
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