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Lit. Bow-exchanging ceremony

Exchanging of ceremonial bows between bride and groom during a traditional wedding ceremony. Gyobaerye takes place at the bride’s home, either in the wooden-floored hall (daecheong), if it is large enough, or in the courtyard where a canopy and large table have been set up. Details vary according to region and family, but generally the ceremonial table features a pair of candles, one red and the other blue, pine and bamboo sprays arranged in a vase, chestnuts, jujubes, rice, a pair of gourd cups

Korean Rites of Passage

Lit. gourd union ceremony

Bride and groom drinking liquor from the same cup to exchange marriage vows during a traditional wedding ceremony. After finishing gyobaerye (Kor. 교배례, Chin. 交拜禮, lit. bow exchanging ceremony), the bride and groom sit down on their knees, and the attendants put down the liquor cup and the fruit dish from daeryesang (Kor. 대례상, Chin. 大禮床, lit. table for grand ceremony), chestnuts from the groom’s table and jujubes from the bride’s table, onto a small table, respectively. In hapgeullye, the bride a

Korean Rites of Passage

60th wedding ceremony

Ceremony celebrating one’s 60th wedding anniversary. In the traditional Korean society of extended families, little significance was attached to wedding anniversaries with the exception of hoehon, or the 60th wedding anniversary. To hold a banquet to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary, it was a prerequisite that the couple had grown gray together with one or more children between them, of whom none had died. On this anniversary, the elderly couple dress in wedding garments reenact the weddin

Korean Rites of Passage

Insertion of grains into the mouth of the deceased

The funeral procedure of inserting rice, beads, or coins into the mouth of the deceased person. There are old records of the funerary custom in which glutinous rice, gold, jade, or other precious objects are inserted into the mouth of the deceased before the body is placed in the coffin; today, however, macerated rice was used instead. The chief mourner put three spoonfuls of macerated rice into the deceased’s mouth with a willow spoon, after the body had been washed and shrouded. The rice is fi

Korean Rites of Passage

Table for the death messenger

A table on which offerings are arranged to entertain the messengers from the underworld. According to Korean folk belief, the death of a person in a family is followed by the visit of three messengers of death, who take the spirit of the dead to the underworld. Therefore, when a family member died, the remaining members prepared offerings to entertain the messengers, typically three bowls of cooked rice, three coins, and three pairs of woven straw shoes. These offerings were placed on sajasang,

Korean Rites of Passage

Son Reborn as Golden Calf

This tale narrates the story of a baby that was fed to a cow and reborn as a golden calf, then turned back into a human after making sounds from a drum woven of straw to become the son-in-law of a nobleman. This oral narrative is also documented under the title “Geumdoktaeja (Golden Calf Son)” in the collection of Buddhist tales Seokgayeoraesipjisuhaenggi (Chronicle of Buddha’s Ten Stages of Discipline), first published in Goryeo in the 5th year of King Chungsuk’s reign (1329), and republished a

Korean Folk Literature


This legend narrates the story of Ondal, a historical figure during the reign of King Yeongyang (?-590) of Goguryeo. The tale of Ondal is documented in Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), Sinjeungdongguk- yeojiseungnam (Augmented Survey of the Geography of the Eastern Kingdom (Revised and Expanded Edition)), and Myeongsimbogam (Exemplar of Pure Mind). The following is a summary of “The Tale of Ondal, ” as recorded in Samguksagi: In Goguryeo, during the reign of King Pyeonggang, lived a m

Korean Folk Literature

Reincarnation Tale

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 devo

Korean Folk Literature

Farmhand Reincarnated as Magistrate

This tale narrates the story of a man of lowly social status reincarcated as the son of a nobleman and appointed to public office. The story is recorded in the section titled “Daeseonghyoisebumo (Daeseong’s Filial Piety for Two Generations of Parents)” of Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms). Narratives about characters who overcome the limitations of their social status and achieve success were of great public interest in Joseon, which resulted in the tale’s inclusion in various ant

Korean Folk Literature

Beginning of Fall

Ipchu (Kor. 입추, Chin. 立秋, lit. onset of fall) is the thirteenth of the twenty-four solar terms. It falls around August eighth on the Gregorian calendar when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 120°. On the lunar calendar, this term is usually in the seventh month. Located between the solar terms of Daeseo (Kor. 대서, Chin. 大暑, Major Heat) and Cheoseo (Kor. 처서, Chin. 處暑, End of Heat), Ipchu is regarded as the end of summer and the beginning of fall, which lasts until Ipdong (Kor. 입동, Chin. 立

Korean Seasonal Customs
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