The Legend of Tiger and Bear

Today I will share with you, in my own words, the creation story of Korea.

It starts with a man named Hwan-gun, the son of Hwan-in, the all powerful God of the heavens. He asked his father to let him live on Earth and build a new life there. Hwan-in sent him with 3,000 followers to help develop the Earth, and *”provide humans with great happiness.” Hwan-gun brought with him three spirits: the Wind General, the Rain Governor, and the Cloud Teacher. They were left under a sandalwood tree where he settled the city of TaeBaeksan, in North Korea on the highest point of the Korean peninsula.

One day a Tiger and a Bear prayed to Hwan-gun. They wished to become human. Hwan-gun thought very hard, and gave them a task to fulfil their wish. He gave them 20 cloves of garlic and a bundle of mugwort and said to them

“Stay out of the light, and take only this food to eat for 100 days.”

The Bear and the Tiger left, they retreated into a cave. After 20 days the bear remained patient and endured many days, but the Tiger could not handle the task. The tiger left the cave and ran into the forest. When the 100 days was almost over, the bear began to lose it’s fur and grow legs, by the end of the 100th day the bear became a woman.

The Bear-Woman was very grateful and made many offerings to Hwan-gun. But she was lonely and wanted companionship. The Bear-woman prayed underneath the Sandalwood tree for a family. Hwan-gun happily married the Bear-woman and she had a child named Dan-gun.

Dan-gun later became the first ruler of Korea, he established the Choseon Dynasty, meaning “morning calm”. He ruled over Korea for a very long time, and stretched his kingdom as far as East China. Finally, when he was 1,908 years old he returned to Taebaeksan and became and a mountain god.



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