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Korean Mythology

Korean Mythology comprises the legends, myths, and historical tales that form the cultural and spiritual backdrop of Korea. These stories are influenced by Korea’s unique history, geography, and its interactions with neighboring cultures, primarily China and Japan.

Major Deities and Figures

  1. Dangun: The legendary founder of Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom, often considered a demi-god.
  2. Hwanin: The “Heavenly King,” associated with the divine origin of the Korean people.
  3. Hwanung: Son of Hwanin, who descended to Earth and played a key role in the creation of Korea.
  4. Yuhwa: A goddess associated with rivers and fertility, the mother of Dangun.

Creation Myths

  • The Story of Dangun: The founding myth of Korea, describing how Hwanung descended to Earth and established Gojoseon.
  • The Tale of Jumong: The founding myth of the Goguryeo kingdom, involving a prince who was the son of a heavenly deity and a mortal woman.

Important Themes and Tales

  • The Myths of Gumiho: A nine-tailed fox spirit, known for its shape-shifting abilities and often depicted in modern Korean media.
  • The Legend of the Sun and the Moon: A tale explaining the origin of the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Shamanism and Folk Beliefs

  • Korean shamanism, or Muism, plays a significant role in Korean mythology, with shamans (mudang) acting as intermediaries between humans and spirits.
  • Many folk tales and legends are tied to shamanistic rituals and beliefs.

Cultural Influence

  • Korean mythology is reflected in traditional music, dance, art, and festivals like Chuseok (Korean harvest festival) and Dano (spring festival).
  • These myths also influence modern Korean literature, cinema, and popular culture, including K-dramas and K-pop.

Interactions with Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism

  • While indigenous beliefs form the core, Korean mythology has been influenced by Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, creating a rich, syncretic tradition.

Japanese Mythology

Indian Mythology (Hindu, Buddhist, Jain)