Korean Mythological Gods & Stories

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  • 0:00 Korean Mythology: An Overview
  • 0:43 The Korean Pantheon
  • 2:45 Myths and Stories
  • 5:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Emily Teater

Emily currently is a substitute teacher, and has taught a variety of K-12 courses. She has a master's degree in Mythological Studies.

In this lesson, you will get an overview of some of the main gods and goddesses found in Korean mythology. You will also see some of the myths in which these gods and goddesses are involved. Then you can test your knowledge with a quiz!

Korean Mythology: An Overview

Greek mythology is perhaps one of the more organized mythologies in that there's a clear-cut pantheon where the relationship between the gods and goddesses is fairly unchanging. Unlike this, Korean mythology is different. Korean mythology is a combination of Korean shamanism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and various local myths. Needless to say, Korean mythology can be very fluid and there are many variations of Korean myths depending upon the location where the myth is being told. Here, we'll explore some of the gods and goddesses that were part of this mythic tradition.

The Korean Pantheon

Sang-je: He's the Heavenly Emperor, and therefore king of the gods. It's through him, that many humans, as was many cases in the Korean pantheon, become gods.

Mireuk: He is the major creator god among the Korean gods. Through him, the world was created, but when angered, he also caused much of the world's suffering.

Seokga: A trickster god who is involved in the Korean creation myth. Ultimately, he becomes the first ruler of the world through deceit.

Haemosu: He's Sang-je's son and the god of the sun. He wears a crow-feather headdress, carries a magic sword, and drives a chariot pulled by five dragons. Sometimes, he is the sister of Dalnim.

Dalnim: She's the goddess of the moon and sister to Haemosu. In one version of her myth, she climbed so high into the heavens, she reached the moon, becoming the goddess of the moon.

Jacheongbi: She's the goddess of agriculture, bringing the gift of farming to humankind.

Yeomna: Great King Yeomna is the king of the underworld and often known for passing judgment on the dead. He leads dead spirits to their abode in the underworld, which reflects their life on earth.

Paritegi is the goddess who serves as guide to the underworld, leading the souls of the dead to their resting place. Because she was the only person to purposefully travel to the underworld and return, she was honored as a goddess of the boundary between the two worlds.

Samshin-halmang: She's the goddess of childbirth and protector of mothers.

Gameunjang-aegi: She's the goddess of luck and fate.

Jowangshin: She is the goddess of the hearth and home; specifically, the kitchen. Jowangshin protects the warm center of every household, and sometimes, she's viewed as a friendly goddess who visits with women in the kitchen and even offers advice and gossips with the women.

Myths and Stories

The Changsega

This is the creation myth of Korea, where Mireuk, begins the creation of the world by first separating the earth and sky using four copper pillars. There were two moons and two suns and Mireuk took one of each and broke them apart, creating the stars. He created fire by striking iron with a stone and water by redirecting a spring. Finally, he held a golden tray and a silver tray and, praying to the sky, five gold insects and five silver insects appeared. These became men and women and formed the first five couples who populated the Earth. Eventually, Seokga appeared and challenged Mireuk to a contest to see who would rule the human world.

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