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01

Three-Legged Crow

The legend of “Samjogo” narrates the story of an imaginary bird with three legs, believed to live on the sun, or to symbolize the sun. According to Chinese records, the concept of the three-legged crow came from the observation that the black spot on the sun resembled a crow, and that the number three in traditional cosmology indicates light, or yang energy, or that the number three itself indicates the sun. In Korea, images of the three- legged crow have been found in murals of Goguryeo tombs N

Korean Folk Literature

02

Nongsapuri

A series of farming procedures mimicked, or acted out, by a group of performers to the accompaniment of nongak (farmers’ music) rhythms. Like entertainment-oriented nongak performances called pangut, nongsapuri is performed by a group to entertain an audience. It developed in a systematic way mostly in the northern part of Gyeonggi-do Province and the Yeongdong region, where nongak itself can be called nongsapuri nongak. In some parts of the Yeongnam region, nongsapuri is included as part of pan

Korean Folk Arts

03

New Year’s Flag Greetings

Gisebae (Kor. 기세배, Chin. 旗歲拜, lit. New Year’s flag greetings) is a custom observed during Jeongwol Daeboreum (Kor. 정월대보름, Great Full Moon Festival) with the purpose of praying for an abundant harvest. As its name implies, the custom involves the use of flags that are referred to as nongsingi (Kor. 농신기, Chin. 農神旗, lit. farming god flag). Gisebae is also known under other names such as nonggi sebae (Kor. 농기세배, Chin. 農旗歲拜, lit. greetings of farming flags), nonggi bbaetgi (Kor. 농기뺏기, Chin. 農旗-, lit.

Korean Seasonal Customs

04

Arrow Throwing

Tuho (Kor. 투호, Chin. 投壺, lit. throwing into a vase) is a game in which players are divided into two teams and throw arrows into a vase placed at a certain distance. The vases into which the arrows are thrown vary both in size and shape. The size of the arrows also differs, and each player is given a set of twelve arrows. Points are earned depending on the proximitiy of the arrow to the center of the vase. The game originated in China prior to the Han dynasty (BCE 206 - CE 220). It is mentioned i

Korean Seasonal Customs

05

General Gang Gam-chan

This legend, in different variations, depicts Gang Gam-chan (948-1031), the renowned military commander of Goryeo known as one of the three greatest generals in Korean history, as a supernatural hero. Gang’s mythical accomplishments are recorded in documents and publications including Bohanjip (Collection of Writings to Relieve Idleness) of Goryeo; Yongjaechonghwa (Assorted Writings of Yongjae) of early Joseon; and Haedongijeok (Extraordinary Lives from East of the Sea) of Joseon. Haedongijeok,

Korean Folk Literature

06

Hwagatu

A game competing the number of memorized traditional three-verse Korean poems, written in cards spread out on the floor. The literal meaning of Hwagatu is to compete with flower-like songs (or sijo, traditional three-verse poem)., indicating its aim of competing the number of memorized sijo. As some elders in their seventies remember playing Hwagatu in the past, the game was still clearly played widely following the liberation from the Japanese Occupation in 1945. Every remaining Hwagatu card is

Korean Folk Arts

07

Prickly Castor-Oil Tree

Eomnamu, or prickly castor-oil tree, particularly its thorny branches, are used in Korean folk religion to chase away evil spirits and illnesses. Kalopanax septemlobus, common name prickly castor-oil tree, is a deciduous tree in the family Araliaceae, which grows around Korea, Japan and China. Its branches are prickly with thorns, believed to scare away evil spirits and diseases, and are hung over gates or room doors in homes at Seol (Lunar New Year). Another related custom is to take malaria pa

Korean Folk Beliefs