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History of Our World: The Korean Origins and Foundations Myth

9 Oct

Korean legends are a fascinating world to immerse yourself in–of course as an avowed student of Myths and Mythology, I could perfectly happily spend my entire life in the fantastic world of eastern stories.  Of a particular interest to me are the origin stories of creation and cultures, a passion which led me to research the Korean story of creation and the Korean culture’s origins.

Mythology and stories about the beginning of the world can be divided into two categories ~ 1) Creation Myths which tell of the origin of the world and 2) Foundation Myths, a subset of the Creation genre, which more specifically relate the origin of a people, nation, or culture. 

As one of the great ancient peoples, it is only natural that much of Korean myths come through to us in the oral tradition.  Still, Koreans do not have much in the way of “Creation of the Earth” myths ~ most of their stories and legends presume that the world was already in existence when the tales begin.  

There are a few minor oral tales that claim the world began (as so many origin stories hold) in a time of utter chaos and an absence of any type of creation or order.  The stories go on to say that suddenly a crack appeared in the heavens, dividing the earth from the skies.  But those are very minor, basic tales lacking any deep specifics or embellishments.  

Rather, Korean myths tend to fall into the realm of Foundation Myths ~ sharing the origins of Korea and the Korean peoples. There are several variations, of which the most popular is the Myth of Tangun, which speaks of Hwangun, a beautiful character of strength and eternal goodness.

Once upon a time, many centuries ago, the great Heavenly God Hwanin had a noble son whose name was Hwangun.  Hwangun had looked upon earth and fell in love, wishing greatly for the chance to come to earth and rule over it so that it might prosper.  After learning of his son’s desire and examining the situation on earth, Hwanin decided that his son’s leadership would benefit the earth and so decreed that Hwangun should go to earth and take charge.

Before he left, Hwanin gave his son three Treasures from Heaven that would signify his authority and right to rule.  Taking these with him, Hwangun finally embarked on his great mission.  Taking 3000 spirits with him Hwangun first alighted on a mountain in Myohyangsan, a place in the modern-day North Korea.

Along with his great assistants, the spirits of the wind, rain, and cloud, Hwangun began implementing his leadership and guided the earth into a time of prosperity and splendor.  

After some time had passed, Hwangun began to be pestered by a tiger and bear who came visiting him and begging for human forms.  Taking pity on them, Hwangun set before them a test~ they were to fast for 100 days and then they would receive their human bodies.  Now, the bear was very diligent and passed the test, finally transforming into a female and enjoying her new form. The tiger was not so steadfast and failed to transform.  But the bear was greatly saddened, for she realized that there was no one on earth for her to mate with and thus no children would come to her.  So daily, she went to the alter and pleaded with the Heavens to provide her with a child.

Once again feeling pity for the tragic bear-woman, Hwangun transformed himself into a human form and married the woman.  Together they had a son, who they named Tangun.  Tangun was the man who, in the time of Emperor Yao (one of the Five Emperors of China in the 2300s-2200s BC), established the first human Korean city in Pyongyang and the first Korean dynasty~ the Choson dynasty.

There are of course several variations of this initial story, but this is the tale in its original and most basic form. Even, to me, the most beautiful form.  

What do you think? Does this sound familiar to your culture’s foundation myth? Any themes or similarities that cross cultural bounds?  Let me know in the comments!

If you are interested, this story is some-what re-told (with major alterations) in the Korean drama “The Legend“~ it’s a great watch, both for the beautiful storyline and insight into Korean cultures/ideology.

The Blossoms of Luoyang

25 Apr

DSC08851

The Blossoms of Luoyang

My lover is like the tree peony of Luoyang,

I, unworthy, like the common willows of Wu Chang.

Both places love the spring wind.

When shall we hold each others hands again?

Incessant the buzzing of insects beyond the orchard curtain

The moom flings slanting shadows from the pepper tree across the courtyard.

Pity the girl of the flowery house, who is not equal to the blossoms of Luoyang.

— Ting Liunang (Tang Dynasty)

Book Review: “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss! “

31 Mar

Italy Travel Guide:

Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss!

by Manuel de Cortes

A handy tour guide gifted to visitors in Italy.

Manuel de Cortes’s recent book, “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss” is an resources for travelers or students interested in visiting Italy.  At 125 pages, the book is small but still contains quite a bit of useful information on locations worth checking out during your trip.

I’ve never been to Italy, so I cannot actually tell you if the places he recommends are truly the best. But I looked up some reviews and pictures of the spots, and I would definitely want to check them out if it were me. I’m planning my dream trip to Italy one day, and this book gave me some great ideas 🙂

There are seven Chapters, including the introduction and conclusion. He has divided the country into a general overview, North Italy, Central Italy, South Italy, and the Islands.  Each gets its own description and list of recommended locations.  In addition to brief descriptions, he also throws in the fun fact here and there  to spice up your trip.

The book is a little simple, and he doesn’t include directions or tell you how to reach these spots. And it’s usually recommending a larger area (this city, that pot), so specifics like where to find dinner or shop aren’t here.  That will be up to you. But it is a good place to find ideas if you want to get a good look at all the different areas in the country.

Writing style: Pretty good. Some of the writing could have been edited better, but I feel that with a decent editor it would read like a professional.  Mr. Cortes has written several other books, and is obviously familiar with the writing process.  The book is self-published, and you can tell in some places. But overall, I really liked the flow and all the information he includes. A lot of people seem to have really appreciated his use of pictures – he has one for almost all of the major locations. It certainly helps you find them on the streets. 

If you are planning a trip to Italy, I recommend checking his book out.  You can find it on Amazon as a cheap E-book ($2.99) so you can carry it with you as you tour 🙂

BUY ON AMAZON

Book Recommendation: “Child 44”

30 Mar

Child 44:
by Tom Rob Smith

““—Isn’t this how it starts? You have a cause you believe in, a cause worth dying for. Soon, it’s a cause worth killing for. Soon, it’s a cause worth killing innocent people for.”  Continue reading

” O’ Winter! Ruler of th’ Inverted Year”

6 Feb

“A Winter Scene” by Renaboo

William Cowper 

from his work: “The Task

   Oh Winter! ruler of th’ inverted year,
Thy scatter’d hair with sleet like ashes fill’d,
Thy breath congeal’d upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fring’d with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age; thy forehead wrapt in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urg’d by storms along its slipp’ry way;
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem’st,
And dreaded as thou art!  Thou hold’st the sun
A pris’ner in the yet undawning East,
Short’ning his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy West; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gathering at short notice, in one group,
The family dispers’d, and fixing thought,
Not less dispers’d by day-light and its cares.
I crown thee King of intimate delights,
Fire-side enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb’d retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening, know.

“Clearing Rain” – Poetry I Love

17 Dec
Autumn In The Big City by Spirosart

“Autumn in the Big City” by Spirosart

“Clearing Rain” by Du Fu (758)

The sky’s water has fallen, and autumn clouds are thin,
The western wind has blown ten thousand li.
This morning’s scene is good and fine,
Long rain has not harmed the land.
The row of willows begins to show green,
The pear tree on the hill has little red flowers.
A hujia pipe begins to play upstairs,
One goose flies high into the sky.

雨晴(一作秋霁)

天水秋云薄
从西万里风
今朝好晴景
久雨不妨农
塞柳行疏翠
山梨结小红
胡笳楼上发
一雁入高空

yǔ qíng(yī zuò qiū jì)
tiān shuǐ qiū yún báo
cóng xī wàn lǐ fēng
jīn zhāo hǎo qíng jǐng
jiǔ yǔ bù fáng nóng
sāi liǔ háng shū cuì
shān lí jiē xiǎo hóng
hú jiā lóu shàng fā
yī yàn rù gāo kōng

Build Your Own Virtues

13 Nov

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

**Mother Teresa

The Erl-King ~ by Johanne Wolfgang Von Goethe

11 Nov
The Erl King 1 by odingraphics

The Erl King 1 by odingraphics

The Erl-King 

by Johanne Wolfgang Von Goethe

WHO rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp’d in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

“My son, wherefore seek’st thou thy face thus to hide?”
“Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?”
“My son, ’tis the mist rising over the plain.” Continue reading

Random Lit. Crit. Question ~ The Sleeping Beauty Fairies

28 Jun

Random Question:

Have you every wondered what Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) would have been like had the fairies not given their birthday presents? Would she have been ugly, stupid, a horrible singer, nonspiritual, ungraceful, unmusical, and unhappy? Or were a couple of those wishes wasted on her? I suddenly had this mental image of wondering how she changed after their wishes. Was she a bald baby that suddenly grew a full head of hair? Were her teething cries suddenly full-on choreographed musical numbers? What was the REAL Aurora like?

Were these changes really any good for her?  Perhaps she would not have married Philip and enchanted the birds, but did she suddenly lose her original soulmate by no longer being likely to stumble into his path?  Or would Philip have fallen for her anyway?  Does this mean that Philip was really more shallow than we thought, if he needed a perfect princess to fall in love?  I mean, it’s no wonder he fell at first musical chord.  And if she lost her first soulmate (the one who loved the original her), does this mean she stole Philip’s soulmate?  The one that was made for him before the fairies changed Aurora’s life?

Other than saving her life, how did they change her future? And did her mother miss the original Aurora? Taking the story way too seriously, but that’s what you get with an English major. 🙂

Waiting in Silence

27 Jun

Random Literary Criticism Question. . . do you know what this poem is describing?

WAITING IN SILENCE

Pounding. Pounding. Pounding.

Always ever stomping, chest drum beating

Thudding up and down, up and down.

Heart forcing its way up and out.

 

Racing here. There. Back. There. Again.

Never closing, always opening. Wider, Wider.

Espying, Missing. Chasing, Searching, Seeking. There!

Eyes ever seeing what remains unseen.

 

HELP. Help. help. Shhh.

Choking. Stopping.  Breath intangible, concrete.

Words Spilling Out in Air. Hanging. Fading. Gone.

Voice Screaming whispered cries falling from speechless lips.

  Continue reading

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