Destinations

3 Mythological Creatures in Korean Dramas

Most of you have probably watched at least one Korean drama. Maybe you wanted to learn a little bit of Korean culture, or your favorite singer made a cameo appearance. But, I think for most of us, our K-drama addiction starts with peer pressure. Whatever the reason, one thing is sure – once you start watching K-Dramas it’s difficult to stop. However, you may quickly find that one thing that quickly becomes a barrier to enjoying Korean Dramas to their fullest, is a lack of knowledge concerning Korean mythological creatures. And so, today I will provide a little background on three Korean mythological creatures featured in some of my favorite dramas.

Goblins

The Drama

Source: tvN drama Youtube Channel

The 2016 drama Goblin or The great and lonely god is one of the top-grossing Korean dramas of all time. Goblin presents the sad story of a Korean mythical creature called a dokkaebi (goblin) that wants to break its curse of immortality. The goblin, played by Gong Yoo, experiences a series of spiritual transformations and realizes that after spending so many years wanting to die, he actually wants to live. He meets the only being who can put an end to his curse only to fall in love with her.

The Korean Mythological Creatures

But what is an actual goblin(dokkaebi)? Well, they certainly aren’t as attractive as Gong Yoo! According to Korean folklore, goblins are extremely rude and unattractive creatures. They normally have horns on their head, sometimes have only one eye, nearly always have long pointed ears, and are often green or blue.

The mythological creatures are spirits or deities that possess unusual powers. What makes goblins a little different from other Korean monsters is their dualistic nature. They enjoy teasing humans but rarely cause any serious damage and often help people on their quests in Korean folktales.

The Nine-tailed Fox

The Drama

Source: iQIYI Malaysia Youtube Channel

Tale of the nine-tailed is the perfect Korean drama to watch and get acquainted with the Korean nine-tailed fox. This Korean drama starring Lee Dong Wook and Jo Bo-Ah aired on tvN in 2020. A very old mountain god in the form of a nine-tailed fox waits for centuries to reincarnate and pursue his goals in the world of humans.

After reincarnation, the main character lives in a modern city where he meets a series of interesting people. This drama wonderfully combines Korean traditional myths with tons of action, fantasy, a splash of romance, and thriller vibes. Therefore, if you have some free time, don’t miss the chance to watch it.

The Korean Mythological Creatures

One area where the drama fundamentally differs from the myth is the gender of the Gumiho. In traditional legends, the gumiho is always female. The legend of the nine-tailed fox is perhaps one of the most common mythological creatures in Japan and Korea. The mysterious and fascinating creature has the ability to transform into a beautiful woman and can enchant any man near her.

She is often presented as a nature guardian spirit living in the forests and in mountains. Plus in every story, the Gumiho’s ultimate goal is to remain human and live among men.

Haechi

The Drama

Source: Viu Singapore Youtube Channel

Haechi is a Korean TV series that was broadcasted in 2019 on SBS. The plot presents the lives of four different people living in the Joseon dynasty who conspire to change the political structure of Joseon. Jung Il Woo plays the main character in the drama, prince Yeoning, while Go Ah-Ra plays the role of a detective of the Saheonbu. The drama called is a wonderful masterpiece about justice, dignity, and truth.

This drama focuses more on the symbolism of haechi, rather than the actual creature itself. The drama truly embodies the spirit of the haechi.

The Korean Mythological Creatures

Haechi or haetae is a mythical beast with a lion body and horns on his forehead. Covered with scales, this creature represents justice and security. In the past, this creature was often connected to the royal court and political affairs. It became a government symbol all over Asia. According to the legends, the spirit of the haechi protected the capital from evils like natural disasters while punishing those who attempted to wrong the royal family.

Currently, you can see statues of the creature guarding the entrances to palaces in China, Vietnam, Japan, and Korea. In addition, in 2008, haechi officially became the mascot of Seoul.

Conclusion

Of course, we must admit that many of us watch Korean dramas because of the attractiveness of the actors. However, many also enjoy the opportunity to learn about Korean culture and history. Next time you watch a Korean drama featuring an unknown mythological creature, do some research. You might just uncover a treasure trove of interesting content.

If you enjoyed this article, we have an entire article dedicated exclusively to the Gumiho. Click Here to read more about the Korean nine-tailed fox.

🇷🇴 Emilia Bucsan

Teacher. Writer. Explorer. A.R.M.Y. Enchanted by the beauty of Korea.