Tree Bachelor and the Great Flood

Tree Bachelor and the Great Flood

Headword

목도령과 대홍수 ( Tree Bachelor and the Great Flood )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer OhSejung(吳世晶)

This tale narrates the story of Mokdoryeong (Tree Bachelor), born between a fairy from the heavens and a tree, who becomes the progenitor of the human race.

A long time ago, a fairy descended from the heavens and after experiencing a communion with the spirit of a tree (or a tree god) she gave birth to a son, whom she named Mokdoryeong (Tree Bachelor). The fairy returned to the heavens and soon after a heavy rain fell, flooding the entire universe. The father tree drifted on the water, carrying Mokdoryeong on its trunk. When they encountered a swarm of ants and mosquitos, swept up in the water, the boy rescued them. A while later, they encountered a boy calling out for help, and Mokdoryeong wanted to save him, which the tree opposed, but Mokdoryeong felt very bad for him and rescued him. Soon the tree arrived at the summit of a tall mountain, where an old woman lived with her foster daughter (or maidservant). Both Mokdoryeong and the rescued boy wanted to marry the girl. In an attempt to marry the girl, the rescued boy slandered Mokdoryeong, who was presented with the test of sorting out grains from a field of sand, and he was able to pass it with the help of the ants that he had rescued from the flood. Next the old woman challenged Mokdoryeong to find her daughter in a room full of women, and this time the mosquitos appeared and guided Mokdoryeong to the daughter. Mokdoryeong was allowed to marry the daughter and the boy married one of the other women. This great flood resulted in the extinction of mankind, the two couples became the progenitors of the new human race.

What is notable about this narrative is the new progenitor Mokdoryeong’s character and his divine lineage as the son of a heavenly being and a tree, a trait shared by other mythological progenitors like Dangun and Jumong. After Mokdoryeong’s birth, his fairy mother abandons him to return to the heavenly world, and when the flood begins, Mokdoryeong is raised by his father, which indicates that the new progenitor is one who pursues his earthly roots rather than his celestial foundations. Mokdoryeong’s character is revealed through his relationship with the boy, who is his rival. While the boy stands for secular values and evil instincts, Mokdoryeong stands for the values of nature and goodness. Especially demonstrative of his character as a progenitor of mankind is the way he solves his given task and defeats his rival by empathizing and communicating with the creatures that he rescued. It should also be noted that not only Mokdoryeong but the rescued boy who schemes against his rescuer becomes the progenitor for the new mankind. The human race that emerged after the Great Flood, in other words, are descendents of not only the good Mokdoryeong but also of the evil boy, who serve as the origins of good and evil, the two primal characteristics of man.

In most Korean mythology, progenitor characters are born from the union of sky father and earth mother (cheonbujimo), but Mokdoryeong comes from an earth father and sky mother. Despite this difference, the rest of Mokdoryeong’s narrative follows the structural motifs of progenitor and founding myths, from unusual birth and divine parents to journey, finding a spouse, and receiving help from animals.

Tree Bachelor and the Great Flood

Tree Bachelor and the Great Flood
Headword

목도령과 대홍수 ( Tree Bachelor and the Great Flood )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer OhSejung(吳世晶)

This tale narrates the story of Mokdoryeong (Tree Bachelor), born between a fairy from the heavens and a tree, who becomes the progenitor of the human race.

A long time ago, a fairy descended from the heavens and after experiencing a communion with the spirit of a tree (or a tree god) she gave birth to a son, whom she named Mokdoryeong (Tree Bachelor). The fairy returned to the heavens and soon after a heavy rain fell, flooding the entire universe. The father tree drifted on the water, carrying Mokdoryeong on its trunk. When they encountered a swarm of ants and mosquitos, swept up in the water, the boy rescued them. A while later, they encountered a boy calling out for help, and Mokdoryeong wanted to save him, which the tree opposed, but Mokdoryeong felt very bad for him and rescued him. Soon the tree arrived at the summit of a tall mountain, where an old woman lived with her foster daughter (or maidservant). Both Mokdoryeong and the rescued boy wanted to marry the girl. In an attempt to marry the girl, the rescued boy slandered Mokdoryeong, who was presented with the test of sorting out grains from a field of sand, and he was able to pass it with the help of the ants that he had rescued from the flood. Next the old woman challenged Mokdoryeong to find her daughter in a room full of women, and this time the mosquitos appeared and guided Mokdoryeong to the daughter. Mokdoryeong was allowed to marry the daughter and the boy married one of the other women. This great flood resulted in the extinction of mankind, the two couples became the progenitors of the new human race.

What is notable about this narrative is the new progenitor Mokdoryeong’s character and his divine lineage as the son of a heavenly being and a tree, a trait shared by other mythological progenitors like Dangun and Jumong. After Mokdoryeong’s birth, his fairy mother abandons him to return to the heavenly world, and when the flood begins, Mokdoryeong is raised by his father, which indicates that the new progenitor is one who pursues his earthly roots rather than his celestial foundations. Mokdoryeong’s character is revealed through his relationship with the boy, who is his rival. While the boy stands for secular values and evil instincts, Mokdoryeong stands for the values of nature and goodness. Especially demonstrative of his character as a progenitor of mankind is the way he solves his given task and defeats his rival by empathizing and communicating with the creatures that he rescued. It should also be noted that not only Mokdoryeong but the rescued boy who schemes against his rescuer becomes the progenitor for the new mankind. The human race that emerged after the Great Flood, in other words, are descendents of not only the good Mokdoryeong but also of the evil boy, who serve as the origins of good and evil, the two primal characteristics of man.

In most Korean mythology, progenitor characters are born from the union of sky father and earth mother (cheonbujimo), but Mokdoryeong comes from an earth father and sky mother. Despite this difference, the rest of Mokdoryeong’s narrative follows the structural motifs of progenitor and founding myths, from unusual birth and divine parents to journey, finding a spouse, and receiving help from animals.