Asian studies in Lithuania
Original language: Korean
Translated from: Korean
Composers: Seo, Daeseok
Translated by: Seo, Jinseok
ISBN: ISBN 978-5-417-00928-0
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 2007
Publisher: Mintis

Myths described in the book “Korean myths” talks about Korean kingdoms’ establishments, gods’ origins and their life stories. Majority of myths narrating about establishment of kingdoms were written in a chronicle, which was published in 1285. Meanwhile shaman myths were started to gather only in the 20th century. This book also briefly introduces Korea’s history, religion as well as shamanism and geography. And before every myth there is a short introduction of the myth and where it is spread, so that a reader would understand everything easier.

In this book all myths are categorized into myths about kingdoms’ establishments, Korea’s mainland shaman myths and myths from Jeju Island. Last two categories were started to gather and write down only a hundred years ago by Korean and foreign (usually Japanese) researchers. Therefore they have many versions and the book also has two very different versions of Seongju’s myth. In one version the story is told about Seongju’s life, mistakes and punishment which helped him to mature. In another version the main character’s name is the same, but the story is different. This story tells about challenges which Seongju, his wife and son had to face and overcome. Although these two shaman myths are different, their purpose is the same, which is to tell a story about household’s god Seongju. Meanwhile kingdoms’ establishment myths were written in chronics as history. That is why these myths only have one version and in these myths reader can easily feel India’s or China’s influence. Although kingdoms‘ establishment myths can be divided into myths from south in which a god, who came from the sky, marries and creates a new kingdom and myths from north in which a god, who came from a land far away, marries and has a son, who later becomes a new ruler of a kingdom.

Korean myths are very different from European ones. In myths from Europe the difference between gods and humans is felt very strongly, while in Korean myths this differ barely exists, because gods are living on Earth and often influence humans’ everyday life and history. Therefore in the middle ages myths were written in chronics as history. And even though these days nobody thinks of them as history, myths still often help to explain everyday life during that time.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU