Spirit Mouse(魂鼠)

Spirit Mouse

Headword

혼쥐 ( 魂鼠 , Honjwi )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer LeeInkyung(李仁卿)

“Honjwi” is a tale that narrates the story of spirit mouse, which crawls out of the human body at night, its nighttime experiences delivered to the person in the form of a dream.

A wife sat awake at night working on her sewing, when she saw a mouse crawl out of her husband’s nostril. She followed the mouse, helping it crawl over the threshold and cross over a puddle by making a bridge with a ruler. After digging in the plain, the mouse returned home and crawled into the husband’s nostril, awaking the husband. The husband told his wife about his dream, in which he travelled a rough path with the help of a fairy and found a jar of gold but returned because he was out of energy. The husband and wife found the jar of gold in the plain and lived happily in wealth. It is believed that while people sleep, the human spirit transforms into a mouse and roams about, the experience of which forms dreams.

A variation of this tale features two or three mice crawling out of the husband, the last of which the wife kills, and the husband, who is an audacious thief, turns into a coward and quits stealing.

Mice, as nocturnal creatures that compete with humans for grains, are viewed in a negative light, but as prolific creatures that travel both on and under the ground, are also seen as spiritual animals that carry nature’s secrets. These dual aspects are captured in the tale, in which the mouse brings riches that lie underground and also roams about at night pillaging. In the tale, the sleeping husband symbolizes the human unconscious and a natural state closely connected with wildlife, while the wife, as the maker of garments and a user of the ruler, symbolizes a cultural being who trains and disciplines humans.

This tale reflects the view that human body and soul can be separated, and the Koreans’ ambivalence toward mice. It is a rare example of the spirit of the living portrayed in Korean folk literature.

Spirit Mouse

Spirit Mouse
Headword

혼쥐 ( 魂鼠 , Honjwi )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer LeeInkyung(李仁卿)

“Honjwi” is a tale that narrates the story of spirit mouse, which crawls out of the human body at night, its nighttime experiences delivered to the person in the form of a dream.

A wife sat awake at night working on her sewing, when she saw a mouse crawl out of her husband’s nostril. She followed the mouse, helping it crawl over the threshold and cross over a puddle by making a bridge with a ruler. After digging in the plain, the mouse returned home and crawled into the husband’s nostril, awaking the husband. The husband told his wife about his dream, in which he travelled a rough path with the help of a fairy and found a jar of gold but returned because he was out of energy. The husband and wife found the jar of gold in the plain and lived happily in wealth. It is believed that while people sleep, the human spirit transforms into a mouse and roams about, the experience of which forms dreams.

A variation of this tale features two or three mice crawling out of the husband, the last of which the wife kills, and the husband, who is an audacious thief, turns into a coward and quits stealing.

Mice, as nocturnal creatures that compete with humans for grains, are viewed in a negative light, but as prolific creatures that travel both on and under the ground, are also seen as spiritual animals that carry nature’s secrets. These dual aspects are captured in the tale, in which the mouse brings riches that lie underground and also roams about at night pillaging. In the tale, the sleeping husband symbolizes the human unconscious and a natural state closely connected with wildlife, while the wife, as the maker of garments and a user of the ruler, symbolizes a cultural being who trains and disciplines humans.

This tale reflects the view that human body and soul can be separated, and the Koreans’ ambivalence toward mice. It is a rare example of the spirit of the living portrayed in Korean folk literature.