Origin of Igong(二公本解)

Origin of Igong

Headword

이공본풀이 ( 二公本解 , Igongbonpuri )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer JungJinhee(鄭眞熙)

The shamanic myth “Igongbonpuri” from Jeju Island narrates the origin of the Flower Supervisor of Seoheonkkotbat (Flower Garden of the West), who oversees the divine flowers including life flowers and death flowers. It is speculated that Korea’s unique Buddhist narratives influenced the novel genre and shamanistic mythology, giving birth to the classical novel Tale of Allakguk and the shamanic myth “Origin of Igong.” A similar narrative has yet to be found in Buddhist documents outside of Korea.

Poor man Kimjinguk and the immensely rich Imjinguk both beget a child after offering conception prayers (gijachiseong). Kimjinguk begets a son, whom he names Wongangdoryeong (Bachelor Wongang, also known as Saradoryeong); Imjinguk begets a daughter, whom he names Wongangami (Goddess Wongang); and the two promise the two children will wed when they grow up. Bachelor Wongang and Goddess Wongang eventually marry and are expecting a child, when Bachelor Wongang is suddenly appointed as the Flower Supervisor of Seocheonkkotbat (Flower Garden of the West). The two set out together for the new post, but the pregnant Goddess Wongang is unable to continue the journey. Bachelor Wongang names his yet-to-be-born child and resumes alone on the road to the Flower Garden of the West, leaving Goddess Wongang in the care of rich man Jangja. Jangja tries to assault her, but she resists and gives birth to a son. Goddess Wongang and her son Hallakgungi suffer severe exploitation in Jangja’s home, and when Hallakgungi turns fifteen, he presses his mother to tell her about his father, and upon learning who he is, Hallakgungi sets out to find him, leaving his mother behind in Jangja’s home. Jangja chases after Hallakgungi but fails to catch him, and tortures Goddess Wongang, killing her in the end. Hallakgungi arrives at the Flower Garden of the West, where he meets the Flower Supervisor and upon receiving confirmation from the Flower Supervisor that he is his son, Hallakgungi is assigned the mission of bringing his mother back to life with dohwansaengkkot, the resurrection flower, and to take revenge on Jangja with suremelmangaksimkkot, the flower of destruction. Arriving at Jangja’s house, Hallakgungi exterminates Jangja’s entire family, and gathers his mother’s scattered bones to revive her, and together they head to the Flower Garden of the West, where Goddess Wongang becomes Jeoseungeomeom (Underworld Goddess) and Hallakgungi inherits from his father the Flower Supervisor post.

“Song of the Origin of Igong, ” recited as a shamanic epic, can be categorized as a filial piety epic, about a son who finds his father to continue the heavenly legacy as a son and seeks the revenge of his mother; or as a social epic about the suffering of women and class conflict. Set against the mythological backdrop of the Flower Garden of the West, this shamanistic myth narrates the story of how Goddess Wongang and Hallakgungi became part of the family of the Flower Supervisor, while touching on the logic of patriarchal family transmission and gender roles based on male superiority.

In Jeju mythology, flowers are closely associated with life: Buldohalmang, the goddess in charge of the conception and birth of new life, oversees saengbulkkot, or the birth flower, which signifies primordial life in a biological sense; the Flower Supervisor in the “Song of the Origin of Igong, ” also oversees aksimkkot, or the destruction flower, which is associated with punishment, and his flowers serve as tools of sorcery, sources of authority that maintain and strengthen cultural order.

This myth, therefore, reveals important shifts in the history of Korean mythology, from goddess-centered narratives to those based on male superiority; from narratives that emphasize primal life to those that also focus on sociocultural authority.

Origin of Igong

Origin of Igong
Headword

이공본풀이 ( 二公本解 , Igongbonpuri )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Mythology

Writer JungJinhee(鄭眞熙)

The shamanic myth “Igongbonpuri” from Jeju Island narrates the origin of the Flower Supervisor of Seoheonkkotbat (Flower Garden of the West), who oversees the divine flowers including life flowers and death flowers. It is speculated that Korea’s unique Buddhist narratives influenced the novel genre and shamanistic mythology, giving birth to the classical novel Tale of Allakguk and the shamanic myth “Origin of Igong.” A similar narrative has yet to be found in Buddhist documents outside of Korea.

Poor man Kimjinguk and the immensely rich Imjinguk both beget a child after offering conception prayers (gijachiseong). Kimjinguk begets a son, whom he names Wongangdoryeong (Bachelor Wongang, also known as Saradoryeong); Imjinguk begets a daughter, whom he names Wongangami (Goddess Wongang); and the two promise the two children will wed when they grow up. Bachelor Wongang and Goddess Wongang eventually marry and are expecting a child, when Bachelor Wongang is suddenly appointed as the Flower Supervisor of Seocheonkkotbat (Flower Garden of the West). The two set out together for the new post, but the pregnant Goddess Wongang is unable to continue the journey. Bachelor Wongang names his yet-to-be-born child and resumes alone on the road to the Flower Garden of the West, leaving Goddess Wongang in the care of rich man Jangja. Jangja tries to assault her, but she resists and gives birth to a son. Goddess Wongang and her son Hallakgungi suffer severe exploitation in Jangja’s home, and when Hallakgungi turns fifteen, he presses his mother to tell her about his father, and upon learning who he is, Hallakgungi sets out to find him, leaving his mother behind in Jangja’s home. Jangja chases after Hallakgungi but fails to catch him, and tortures Goddess Wongang, killing her in the end. Hallakgungi arrives at the Flower Garden of the West, where he meets the Flower Supervisor and upon receiving confirmation from the Flower Supervisor that he is his son, Hallakgungi is assigned the mission of bringing his mother back to life with dohwansaengkkot, the resurrection flower, and to take revenge on Jangja with suremelmangaksimkkot, the flower of destruction. Arriving at Jangja’s house, Hallakgungi exterminates Jangja’s entire family, and gathers his mother’s scattered bones to revive her, and together they head to the Flower Garden of the West, where Goddess Wongang becomes Jeoseungeomeom (Underworld Goddess) and Hallakgungi inherits from his father the Flower Supervisor post.

“Song of the Origin of Igong, ” recited as a shamanic epic, can be categorized as a filial piety epic, about a son who finds his father to continue the heavenly legacy as a son and seeks the revenge of his mother; or as a social epic about the suffering of women and class conflict. Set against the mythological backdrop of the Flower Garden of the West, this shamanistic myth narrates the story of how Goddess Wongang and Hallakgungi became part of the family of the Flower Supervisor, while touching on the logic of patriarchal family transmission and gender roles based on male superiority.

In Jeju mythology, flowers are closely associated with life: Buldohalmang, the goddess in charge of the conception and birth of new life, oversees saengbulkkot, or the birth flower, which signifies primordial life in a biological sense; the Flower Supervisor in the “Song of the Origin of Igong, ” also oversees aksimkkot, or the destruction flower, which is associated with punishment, and his flowers serve as tools of sorcery, sources of authority that maintain and strengthen cultural order.

This myth, therefore, reveals important shifts in the history of Korean mythology, from goddess-centered narratives to those based on male superiority; from narratives that emphasize primal life to those that also focus on sociocultural authority.