Mythology is a collection of myths especially one belonging to cultural or religious tradition. Myths usually consist of events that are historical and explain origin of cultures or how the world came to be. Korean mythology has many stories that explain their culture and how Korea came to be today. These myths affected parts of Korea and it affected how people live in Korea today.
Korean mythology affects the culture of its people by explaining how Korea was found, how significant love is, and how gods and goddesses made the universe. There are many Korean origin myths but the most famous one was called “The Heavenly Prince”. Once there was a king who lived in heaven and he had a son who was referred to the heavenly prince but his real name was Haemosu. The heavenly king’s name was Sang-je but in this myth he was recognized as the heavenly king. The heavenly prince asked his father to give him the Korean Peninsula to watch over. The king allowed him to govern the Korean Peninsula and went down with 3 heavenly seals.
When the king went down he landed under a sacred sandalwood tree where the prince found his holy city. He established this city with 3 ambassadors to carry out his orders and commands. The ambassador’s names were Wind, Rain, and Cloud. They had to keep order in the city with 360 administrators who managed how they lived and determined the measure of good and evil (Korean Creation Mythology). There was multiple versions of this myth but this version was the most famous of them all. Korean mythology has three types of versions but this was the mindam version.
Mindam has mostly originated myths than other types myths (Encyclopedia Mythica). This myth shows how the Heavenly Prince chose the Korean Peninsula and many Koreans are proud of this because he could have picked any other place in the world but he chose Korea. The myth explains how the Korean Peninsula was found and how it was controlled back then. In this myth it also gives a sense on how weather played a role into Korea. The three ministers helped the Korean Peninsula grow and develop by providing food for people to eat. The ambassadors that were in charge of concluding good and evil were often credited in Korea. The first human myth was a continuation of the Heavenly Prince myth.
The myth involves a bear and a tiger who longs to be human. Near the sacred sandalwood tree there was a cave where the bear and the tiger lived. Each day they would pray and beg to the tree so that they can become human.
The heavenly prince saw this and chose to give them a shot at becoming humans. The prince gave them a bundle of mugwort and twenty bulbs of garlic and told them that if they only ate these things and stayed in the cave they would become human. The tiger could not stand staying in the cave but the bear endured the food and stayed in the cave. The tiger eventually ran away and the bear turned into a beautiful woman who ended up becoming the Queen. The also Queen gave birth to Dan-Gun, the first human ruler of Korea.
In the holy city of the Korea Dan-Gun made sculptures in the name of the Heavenly Prince (Korean Creation Mythology). This myth explains many things in the world today and why it happens. For example the myth explains why bears hibernate and why tigers don’t. Another thing it explains is how humans came to be in Korea and how things began for the country. This myth teaches us to be perseverant and patient like the bear. The bear was very persistent and was able to get through the hardship of staying in the cave and eating only mugwort and garlic.
It also teaches us that if we pray or truly believe in something there is a possibility that we might be able to get it. The Prince saw the bear’s faith and was able to grant her wish because of that. Love is very significant in Korean culture because the myths used in Korean mythology impacted how Koreans think about love today. There most famous Korean legend is based on two ordinary people who were in love. Kyonu was a farmer and he produced the best crops in town. Jingnyo was a weaver and she would weave the best clothing in town.
They ended up falling so in love that they forgot about their duties as a farmer and weaver. The king was mad to hear about this so he turned Kyonu and Jingyu into stars. Kyonu was placed as on the far east side while Jingnyo was placed on the far west side. They were only allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh moon month. They were so sad that they couldn’t see or embrace each other so their tears flooded the earth.
The birds could stand the floods so they formed masses to make a bridge so Jingyu and Kyonu can once unite. They were so happy that the sun shined so bright. When they had to leave each other they cried really hard it rained. This myth explains how important love is in Korean culture. Today Korea has multiple hand signs that indicate love and hearts. Many believe that the hand signs originated or started from this myth.
It also explains why the sun is the brightest star we see on earth (Kenton, Linda M). This myth has taught Koreans to love even when they are going through hard times. The king banished them from seeing each other but they were still able to love each other from a long distance.
This legend also gives Korean a vivid expression of joy knowing that love was still available around the world. Koreans have a more positive attitude with love and hope due to this legend. In Korean Mythology there were many myths based on different gods and goddesses who were believed to have made the universe.
Haemosu or the heavenly prince was the god of the sun because he found Korea and he was often a sun in most Korean myths. Samshin-Halmang is the goddess of life and she was in charge of pregnancy. Sanshin Ryong is the god of mountains and in myths he is often described as an old man. Chilsungshin are the seven gods of the Great Dipper.
They usually bless people with good luck and they are the most common of worshipped gods. According to other Korean myths there was a family who killed their daughter in the restroom and she turned into the cheuk hin or the guardian of the toilet. Gameunjang-aegi is the goddess of fate and she is recognized for determining people’s destinies. When she was living on earth she made everyone around her have good luck. Yeomra-Daewang was the highest ruler and one of the ten kings of the underworld. He was in charge of determining what do with people when they sin.
He has many powers such as shape-shifting and reviving the dead. Yongwang is the dragon lord who rules aquatic animals and has the ability to control the weather. Seokaga was known for his rebellions and was recognized as the trickster god (Korean Mythology). Korean mythology gods and goddesses played a huge role in Korean culture today. The god and goddesses of the different myths affected what Koreans believed in.
Koreans pray to these gods to get good luck and to not get punished. Since Yongwang controls the weather people pray to him so they would receive good weather. Mostly people pray or worship to Yeomra-Daewang because he controls whether people are punished for their sin. People often get scared and frightened of getting punished from the gods and goddesses. The god and goddesses from these myths also give a sense on where things came from.
These legends or myths have something for Koreans to base off of on how Korea came to be. Korean culture is affected by legends associated with how Korea came to be, how significant love is, and how gods and goddesses made the world. Korean confucianism and buddhism are used to base these myth so that explains why Korea is very well mannered and respectful.
Many of these myths or legends have been around for centuries and they are still being studied today. Myths are very meaningful and powerful in a culture and religion because it gives people answers to questions that has been going on for.