Myth – Korean

Korean: ??? ??? ?? ??? ?? ??? ???. ??? ??? ??? ??? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ???? ??? ? ? ???? ??? ???. ??? 100??? ??? ?? ?? ????? ?? ???? ?? ??? ??? ?????, ???? ??? ??? ??? ?? ???. ? ??? ?? ?? ??? ???, ?? ??? ? ??? ???? ??? ???. ? ??? ?? ??? ?? ????.

Translation: Korea’s creation myth came from a bear and a tiger who wished to become humans.  They went to the heavenly prince for help, who told them to stay in the cave and eat garlic and mugworts for a hundred days.  The tiger could not stand being in the cave on a restricted diet, but the bear prevailed and turned into a human woman.  She had one more wish to marry someone, so she married the heavenly prince and established the Korean nation.

This myth was first heard from her grandmother around the age of seven.  Janet says that this myth was how the population of Korea started.  The moral of the story is to teach the importance of being patient, especially if a certain goal is desired.  In order for the bear and the tiger to achieve their dream of becoming humans, they need to follow the words of the wise.  Janet interprets this myth as a way to teach children to behave, following the footsteps of their ancestors.  Being from Korea, she grew up with these myths, but never realized the importance of learning these virtues from her grandmother.

Every culture has a creation myth to explain where the people came from.  In Korea, it involves mythological creatures who turn from animals to humans.  Mugworts, which is a plant used as a flavoring addition in Korean foods, especially to create a green color in rice cakes.  Only being able to eat garlic and mugworts is a symbol of perseverance, since only eating these two items is torturous.  The Koreans are very unwavering in all their endeavors, and this myth shows the origins of their personality.

The creation myth is an example of a polygenesis approach towards a story.  There is one beginning from which all the Korean people believe they came from, but this is similar to the Western myth of Adam and Eve, a story in which all humankind comes from.  There are multiple stories about beginnings all around the world to explain the origin of man, and this creation myth is just one explanation of human existence.