Cheoyong(处容)

Cheoyong

Headword

처용 ( 处容 , Cheoyong )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer ShinJaehong(申載弘)

This legend narrates the story of Cheoyong, the son of the Dragon of Donghae (East Sea), who served in the royal court of Silla, and was deified as the gate god Munsin after he defeated the smallpox deity Yeoksin who assaulted Cheoyong’s wife. The tales takes place against the backdrop of the reign of King Heongang (875-886), the 49th monarch of Silla.

King Heongang was returning from a visit to Ulsan when suddenly a thick fog surrounded him. The weather officer reported that the fog was caused by the Dragon of Donghae, and the king ordered that a temple be built in his honor. (The temple is believed to be Manghaesa or Sinbangsa.) At this, the fog lifted and the Dragon of Donghae appeared with his seven sons, dancing and playing music. One of the seven sons, named Cheoyong, followed King Heongang to Seorabeol to assist him in state affairs. The king arranged a beautiful woman to be his wife and appointed him to the ninth-rank official position of geupgan. Then one day Cheoyong’s wife was raped by Yeoksin (Smallpox Deity), and upon witnessing this, Cheoyong began singing and danced as he retreated. The song is known today as“ Cheoyongga (Song of Cheoyong). ”This made Yeoksin fall to his knees in surrender, and pledged that he would never enter a gate that bore Cheoyong’s face. Since then, people pasted drawings of Cheoyong’s face on their gates to chase away calamities and to invite auspicious events.

This account, recorded in Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), evolved through oral transmission into the legend of Cheoyong Rock in Ulsan. On Jeju Island, it was believed that Yeoksin surrendered to Cheoyong, who was Yongsin (Dragon God). In North Gyeongsang Province, there are tales of a martial hero named Cheoyongnang who defeated Heungnyong (Black Dragon) that appeared on the waters off Yeongdeok and caused trouble.

There are many speculations about Cheoyong’s identity, ranging from Yongsin (Dragon God), or a shaman or a member of the Silla elite corps Hwarang, to the son of an influential family, or a Muslim merchant, and the narrative is often interpreted in relation to Yongsin worship, Korean shamanism or the Hwarang ideology. The relationship between Cheoyong, his wife and Yeoksin make for a dramatic plot, which could be read as a sorcery to overcome the epidemic of smallpox, or as an adaptation of an actual sexual scandal.

The legend possesses great literary, folkloric and artistic significance, not only as a back story to the verse“ Cheoyongga, ”but also as a traditional performing arts number for“ repelling ghosts and inviting auspicious events. ”

Cheoyong

Cheoyong
Headword

처용 ( 处容 , Cheoyong )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer ShinJaehong(申載弘)

This legend narrates the story of Cheoyong, the son of the Dragon of Donghae (East Sea), who served in the royal court of Silla, and was deified as the gate god Munsin after he defeated the smallpox deity Yeoksin who assaulted Cheoyong’s wife. The tales takes place against the backdrop of the reign of King Heongang (875-886), the 49th monarch of Silla.

King Heongang was returning from a visit to Ulsan when suddenly a thick fog surrounded him. The weather officer reported that the fog was caused by the Dragon of Donghae, and the king ordered that a temple be built in his honor. (The temple is believed to be Manghaesa or Sinbangsa.) At this, the fog lifted and the Dragon of Donghae appeared with his seven sons, dancing and playing music. One of the seven sons, named Cheoyong, followed King Heongang to Seorabeol to assist him in state affairs. The king arranged a beautiful woman to be his wife and appointed him to the ninth-rank official position of geupgan. Then one day Cheoyong’s wife was raped by Yeoksin (Smallpox Deity), and upon witnessing this, Cheoyong began singing and danced as he retreated. The song is known today as“ Cheoyongga (Song of Cheoyong). ”This made Yeoksin fall to his knees in surrender, and pledged that he would never enter a gate that bore Cheoyong’s face. Since then, people pasted drawings of Cheoyong’s face on their gates to chase away calamities and to invite auspicious events.

This account, recorded in Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), evolved through oral transmission into the legend of Cheoyong Rock in Ulsan. On Jeju Island, it was believed that Yeoksin surrendered to Cheoyong, who was Yongsin (Dragon God). In North Gyeongsang Province, there are tales of a martial hero named Cheoyongnang who defeated Heungnyong (Black Dragon) that appeared on the waters off Yeongdeok and caused trouble.

There are many speculations about Cheoyong’s identity, ranging from Yongsin (Dragon God), or a shaman or a member of the Silla elite corps Hwarang, to the son of an influential family, or a Muslim merchant, and the narrative is often interpreted in relation to Yongsin worship, Korean shamanism or the Hwarang ideology. The relationship between Cheoyong, his wife and Yeoksin make for a dramatic plot, which could be read as a sorcery to overcome the epidemic of smallpox, or as an adaptation of an actual sexual scandal.

The legend possesses great literary, folkloric and artistic significance, not only as a back story to the verse“ Cheoyongga, ”but also as a traditional performing arts number for“ repelling ghosts and inviting auspicious events. ”