Korean mythology

Korean mythology refers to stories passed down by word of mouth over thousands of years on the Korean Peninsula.[1] These stories serve as creation myths about the world and origin myths about nature or the social world. Korean myths are often localized and concern specific villages or clans.[2]

The earliest Korean myths predate Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist beliefs and are instead rooted in Korean shamanism.[3] Rituals that glorify shamanistic gods are central to the retelling of Korean shamanistic myths.[2]

Many ancient Korean shamanistic myths were lost following the rise of Confucianism, which stressed pragmatism and rationalism. Only a fraction of Korean myths believed to have existed in ancient times were ultimately documented by Confucian and Buddhist scholars, many of whom modified the stories to fit within their own belief systems.[1]

Influence of Korean shamanism

A Korean shaman performing a ritual.

Korean shamanism played a major role in the creation of ancient Korean myths.[4] Shamanistic myths are referred to as musoksinhwa (Hangul: 무속신화) and are recited as a part of rituals meant to protect humans and nature. A keungut (Hangul: 큰굿), meaning "grand ritual" is the archetypal Korean shamanistic ritual, and each of its twelve parts includes a bonpuri (Hangul: 본풀이), meaning a myth about a god.[5]

Ancient Koreans believed that every object had a soul and, as such, shamanistic rituals included worshiping the spirits and demons that inhabit objects such as mountains and rivers.[4] A shaman is believed to be able to communicate with the spirit world. In Korean mythology, early leaders of Korea are said to have shamanistic qualities or to be descended from shamans. Dangun, the mythological founder of Korea was said to possess shamanistic traits and is sometimes portrayed as a mountain god, otherwise known as a sanshin.[6]

The largest number of shamanistic myths come from Jeju Island and South Hamgyeong Province.[5]

Other Languages
العربية: أساطير كوريا
한국어: 한국 신화
Bahasa Indonesia: Mitologi Korea
日本語: 朝鮮神話
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Korejska mitologija
Türkçe: Kore mitolojisi
中文: 朝鮮神話