Flood Myth- Korea
Primary Language- English
Secondary Language- Korean
Occupation- USC Student
Residence- Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance- 4/10/16
Sometimes before bed, my mother used to tell me Korean myths. One that she told me was very short yet interesting, it was a flood myth. It was about a man named Namu Toryong who was son of the tree god and managed to survive the world’s biggest flood along with saving another young boy and all the animals of the world. After he saved the animals, he traveled to Mt. Baekdu where he met two girls that survived because the mountain was so tall. Toryong then had to prove to the girl’s guardian that he and the boy were worthy to marry them and have children. Toryong won the competition which meant he and the boy could marry. They were then the ones who restarted and began the next human race.
Jacob Hyun is from Los Angeles, United States but his parents are from South Korea. His mother used to tell him similar stories many times throughout his live. It was folklore he listened to before he slept which caused him to dream about them more. The folklore is also special to him because it reminds him of the time spent with his mother when life was more simple compared to being an adult in college. Myths such as these are losing their popularity in Korea but his memories for the myths will never fade.
Most people often love telling stories that are special to them. This piece of folklore is no exception. Hyun usually leaves the listener with awe when he tells the story because it is so strange yet deeply saturated in Korean culture. It is another myth that can be told anywhere at any place.
I believe this myth is very interesting since it gives an answer to how the human race began. It shows a different side to other myths that explain how the world, universe, or stars became because in this story, the world already existed and it had almost died until Toryong saved the animals and the human race. Before the internet and many other things that challenged culture, many people still believed that myths like these could be possible and often worshipped the people in the stories. Except now the faith is disappearing as people are questioning how the story can even be possible. It goes to show that science and knowledge can undermine folklore even though a lot of medicine used in science is derived from folklore. It can go either way. Despite this fact, it’s amazing to see how Hyun still loves to tell the story even though he himself believes it probably is not true.