The scary season has arrived alongside fall, and Halloween is rapidly approaching. Although Halloween isn’t traditionally celebrated in Korea, Koreans have embraced the fun in recent years. Last year, in honor of that sentiment, we shared some Korean ghosts and monsters that you may not have known about. This year, we'll be telling you about more Korean monsters to get you in the spooky mood.
Missed last year's blog about Korean monsters? Check it out here:
The haechi is a hybrid between a lion and a watchdog, with a horn in the center of its head. The monster was said to eat fire, and statues of them are often placed at the entrances to buildings and palaces to prevent them from burning down. They are also considered protecters against natural disasters as well as all disruption or disruptive change. However, the haechi is also said to latch onto the past and refuse to let go - because of this, traditional beliefs state that haechi eat children.
Because of its status as a being of protection, it has been a symbol of Seoul since 2009. It was also used in old Joseon architecture as a symbol of justice.
Bulgasari is a fabled monster that is known for eating iron and defeating nightmares and smallpox. According to a Korean language dictionary, the bulgasari’s appearance is made up of different animals - with a bear’s body, an elephant’s nose, a rhino’s eyes, a cow’s tail, and a tiger’s legs. The bulgasari has also been used as an antagonist in the lost 1962 South Korean monster film Bulgasari.
The bonghwang is a mythical bird in East Asian mythology that is said to have dominion over all other birds. The bonghwang is composed of the beak of a rooster, the face of a swallow, the forehead of a fowl, the neck of a snake, the breast of a goose, the back of a tortoise, the hindquarters of a stag, and the tail of a fish.
In Korea, the bonghwang has been seen on the royal emblem as well as the presidential emblem. There is even a statue of it at the Blue House, Korea's equivalent of the White House.
The samjoko is the three-legged crow, and was considered a symbol of power during the Goguryeo Dynasty - superior to even the dragon and the bonghwang! In East Asian mythologies, the samjoko is also a symbol of the Sun and is said to live there.
Today, the samjoko continues to be used to reperesent the Goguryeo Dynasty, and is still seen seen in contemporary Korean historic dramas, such as Jumong (2011).
Hyeonmu is a creature usually depicted as a turtle entwined together with a snake. Hyeonmu is said to represent the male and female bodies; it is worshiped as a god of love between a man and a woman in folk beliefs. These folk beliefs also state that the turtle, representing a woman, receives the seed of life from the snake, which symbolizes a man, and spends a moment in the dark world, and then sees the birth of a new life.
What's your favorite Korean monster or ghost? Let us know in the comments down below!
Need a horror movie watch list to binge on Halloween? We've got you covered: