Reincarnation Tale(转世故事)

Reincarnation Tale

Headword

환생담 ( 转世故事 , Hwansaengdam )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer ChoiWoonsik(崔雲植)

Hwansaengdam, or reincarnation tales, depict characters who die and are reborn as another human or animal, plant or mineral.

The section “Daeseonghyoisebumo (Daeseong’s Filial Piety for Two Generations of Parents)” of Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) includes the story of Kim Dae-seong, the son of a poor woman in the village of Moryang, who dies and is reborn as State Coincilor Kim Mun-ryang’s son. Dae-seong supports his parents from his current and previous lives with equal devotion, building Bulguk Temple in honor of his parents in his current life and Seokguram Grotto for his parents from his previous life.

“Councillor Hwang Hui’s Parents from His Previous Life” tells the story of a commoner’s son who aspired to be appointed the governor of Pyeongyang but died upon realizing the limitations of his status, but is reborn into an aristocratic family and achieves his dream.

In “Ox That Became the Councillor’s Son-in- Law, ” a man gets a concubine to conceive a son, but his wife gives birth to a son and the jealous concubine feeds the baby to the cow. The cow gives birth to a calf and the calf keeps going in the house and nursing on the wife’s breasts. Realizing that the baby has reincarnated as the calf, the concubine feigns illness and insists that the only cure is the liver of a calf. The butcher hired to retrieve the liver releases the calf and offers anothet animal’s liver. The calf heads to Seoul, where he makes the bell ring and becomes the councillor’s son-in-law, upon which he takes a bath in a pond and transforms into a handsome man. After being appointed to high office, he returns to his home town and reveales what had happened, ordering a punishment for the concubine and a reward for the butcher.

In “Someone Known from Birth, ” the dead man’s spirit repeatedly travels to and from the underworld, reincarnated as a human, a serpent, a puppy and a human, and again.

There are also many tales in which humans are reborn as plants, including flowers, trees, pine tree, bamboo, wisteria, quince tree, oak, and wheat. In “Two Friends That Turned Into Crepe Myrtles, ” two girls fall off a cliff while walking in the snow and die, and flowers bloom as roots grow on their bodies. In “Origin of Liquor, ” a dutiful son hears that his father’s illness will be cured with human liver, and kills a scholar, monk and a mad man to take their liver, and buries them in a single spot. The following year, a strange-looking plant grows on the spot and the son takes the seeds and plants them in his field, which turn out to be wheat, which was brewed into liquor. Drinking liquor makes the three dead men’s spirit appear, and at first the drinker acts like a scholar, then like a monk, and finally, like a mad man. In “Plum Blossom and Warbler, ” a bachelor who had lost his fiancee finds plum blossoms blooming on her grave, which he transplants to a pot at home and takes devoted care. After he dies, he turns into a warbler and visits the plum tree.

In “Sister Sun and Brother Moon, ” siblings ascend to the sky and turn into the sun and the moon, while in other tales, humans die and turn into marbles, rocks, Buddha, or Bukduchilseong (Seven-Star Dipper of the North, or Ursa Major). In “Lord Chilseong and Lady Ongnyeo, ” Lord Chilseong’s seven sons turn into stars as well. In the shamanic song “Underworld Messenger Gangnim” from Jeju Island, the three sons of King Beomu turn into three flowers, then again into three marbles, which is eaten by Gwayangsaeng’s wife, who gives birth to three sons.

In Korean folk religion, nature, including geographical features, animals, and plants is often worshipped as a deity. While in our modern world, a phenomenon is viewed as fixed and unchangeable, in folklore, situations and phenomena were believed to be in constant shift and circulation, just as seasonal change and other natural phenomena, which gave birth to the concept of reincarnation and related folk narratives.

Reincarnation Tale

Reincarnation Tale
Headword

환생담 ( 转世故事 , Hwansaengdam )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer ChoiWoonsik(崔雲植)

Hwansaengdam, or reincarnation tales, depict characters who die and are reborn as another human or animal, plant or mineral.

The section “Daeseonghyoisebumo (Daeseong’s Filial Piety for Two Generations of Parents)” of Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) includes the story of Kim Dae-seong, the son of a poor woman in the village of Moryang, who dies and is reborn as State Coincilor Kim Mun-ryang’s son. Dae-seong supports his parents from his current and previous lives with equal devotion, building Bulguk Temple in honor of his parents in his current life and Seokguram Grotto for his parents from his previous life.

“Councillor Hwang Hui’s Parents from His Previous Life” tells the story of a commoner’s son who aspired to be appointed the governor of Pyeongyang but died upon realizing the limitations of his status, but is reborn into an aristocratic family and achieves his dream.

In “Ox That Became the Councillor’s Son-in- Law, ” a man gets a concubine to conceive a son, but his wife gives birth to a son and the jealous concubine feeds the baby to the cow. The cow gives birth to a calf and the calf keeps going in the house and nursing on the wife’s breasts. Realizing that the baby has reincarnated as the calf, the concubine feigns illness and insists that the only cure is the liver of a calf. The butcher hired to retrieve the liver releases the calf and offers anothet animal’s liver. The calf heads to Seoul, where he makes the bell ring and becomes the councillor’s son-in-law, upon which he takes a bath in a pond and transforms into a handsome man. After being appointed to high office, he returns to his home town and reveales what had happened, ordering a punishment for the concubine and a reward for the butcher.

In “Someone Known from Birth, ” the dead man’s spirit repeatedly travels to and from the underworld, reincarnated as a human, a serpent, a puppy and a human, and again.

There are also many tales in which humans are reborn as plants, including flowers, trees, pine tree, bamboo, wisteria, quince tree, oak, and wheat. In “Two Friends That Turned Into Crepe Myrtles, ” two girls fall off a cliff while walking in the snow and die, and flowers bloom as roots grow on their bodies. In “Origin of Liquor, ” a dutiful son hears that his father’s illness will be cured with human liver, and kills a scholar, monk and a mad man to take their liver, and buries them in a single spot. The following year, a strange-looking plant grows on the spot and the son takes the seeds and plants them in his field, which turn out to be wheat, which was brewed into liquor. Drinking liquor makes the three dead men’s spirit appear, and at first the drinker acts like a scholar, then like a monk, and finally, like a mad man. In “Plum Blossom and Warbler, ” a bachelor who had lost his fiancee finds plum blossoms blooming on her grave, which he transplants to a pot at home and takes devoted care. After he dies, he turns into a warbler and visits the plum tree.

In “Sister Sun and Brother Moon, ” siblings ascend to the sky and turn into the sun and the moon, while in other tales, humans die and turn into marbles, rocks, Buddha, or Bukduchilseong (Seven-Star Dipper of the North, or Ursa Major). In “Lord Chilseong and Lady Ongnyeo, ” Lord Chilseong’s seven sons turn into stars as well. In the shamanic song “Underworld Messenger Gangnim” from Jeju Island, the three sons of King Beomu turn into three flowers, then again into three marbles, which is eaten by Gwayangsaeng’s wife, who gives birth to three sons.

In Korean folk religion, nature, including geographical features, animals, and plants is often worshipped as a deity. While in our modern world, a phenomenon is viewed as fixed and unchangeable, in folklore, situations and phenomena were believed to be in constant shift and circulation, just as seasonal change and other natural phenomena, which gave birth to the concept of reincarnation and related folk narratives.