An Illustrated Guide to Korean Mythology

This highly engaging volume by one of Korea’s leading scholars of comparative mythology – the the first study of its kind in English – provides a valuable introduction to centuries-old beliefs, myths and folk tales relating to Cosmology and Flood, Birth and Agriculture, Messengers of the Underworld, Shamans, Disease, Good Fortune, Love and Family, Gods of Village Shrines, and Heroes. Containing thirty traditional stories, the book is fully illustrated throughout and contains a wide variety of Korean art, including rare shamanist paintings, as well as the work of some contemporary Korean artists. All the stories, based on Korean oral tradition, have been retold by the author according to their main plot and meaning because the original texts’ songs by shamans, containing many obsolete words and obscure idioms, are not easily understood today. The original title and source, including text notes, are provided at the end of each story. The author’s Introduction sets out the historical background and significance of the myths that appear here. He also provides full details of each of the Korean gods and their roles in mythology. While being a welcome addition to the literature on Korean culture for the non-specialist, An Illustrated Guide to Korean Mythology also provides an invaluable reference source for scholars and researchers in the fields of East Asian Mythology and Anthropology, as well as Korean History, Religion and Literature.
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Biographical Note

Choi Won-Oh took a doctorate in Korean Literature at Seoul National University and studied folklore at Indiana University, USA. His previous publications include Comparison of Epics in East Asia (Seoul, 2001). He teaches Korean Oral Literature at the University of Seoul and works as General Business Director in The Society of Korean Oral Literature.

Table of contents

Preface; Introduction: Understanding Korean Myths; The Korean Gods; MYTHS ABOUT COSMOLOGY AND FLOOD: 1 The formation of Heaven and Earth; 2 Shoot for a Sun, Shoot for a Moon; 3 A Man and a Woman Who Became the Gods of the Sun and the Moon; 4 Origin of the Seven Stars of the Great Bear; 5 The Great Flood; MYTHS ABOUT BIRTH AND AGRICULTURE: 6 The Grandmother Goddess of Birth; 7 Chach’ongbi, Agriculture Goddess; 8 Ch’ilsong. Grain Protection Goddess; 9 Tanggum-aegi and the Three Chesok Gods; MYTHS ABOUT THE MESSENGERS OF THE UNDERWORLD: 10 Samani Lived Three Thousand Years Ago; 11 Sama Changja and His Scapegoat Horse; 12 Kangim Went down to the Underworld to Capture the King of Hades; MYTHS ABOUT SHAMANS: 13 Paridegi, Goddess Who Guides Dead Souls to the Underworld; 14 The Three Brothers Who Became Shamen to Save Their Mother; 15 If You Are a Great Shaman, Do You Possess the Gift of Miracles?; MYTHS ABOUT DISEASE: 16 Kaksi Sonnim, the Smallpox Goddess; 17 A Benefit for All Sick Children; MYTHS ABOUT GOOD FORTUNE: 18 Kamunjang-agi –Goddess of Good Fortune; 19 Onuli, the Goddess of Forune-telling; MYTHS ABOUT LOVE AND FAMILY: 20 Bride Chongjong and Her Sacrificial Death for Love; 21 Hallakkungi, the Flower Warden God in the Soch’on Flower Garden; 22 The House God and the House-site Goddess; MYTHS ABOUT THE GODS OF VILLAGE SHRINES: 23 The Snake Goddess Migrated to Cheju Island; 24 Gods Protecting a Village; 25 Cheju Island’s Divine Gods; 26 Sir Paekju and Sir Kumsang, Witchcrafters; MYTHS ABOUT HEROES: 27 A Hero Who Killed Poly-headed Generals; 28 Kunung, the Warrior God of Preventing Misfortune; 29 Tribute of One hundred Head of White Horses; 30 General Paek, Lake Chonji Protecting God on Mount Paekdu; Further Reading; Index

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