Saturday, August 7, 2010

Korean Mythology

Korean mythology consists of national legends and folk-tales which come from all over the Korean Peninsula.

The original religion of Korea was a form of the shamanism and the totemism of Far East Asia, specifically of the nomadic peoples of present-day Manchuria. These were strongly coloured by the later importations of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism from China.

During the early ages, when Buddhism was on the peak, Korean shamanism widely discredited in an attempt to establish Buddhism as the state religion. In later years both Korean Buddhism and shamanism were heavily purged, almost to the point of being lost from the consciousness of the general population.

After the Korean War in 1953, shamans came to be seen less as religious figures and more as charlatans willing to exploit people for money. Recently, however, there has been a substantial revival movement reclaiming this element of Korean culture.

Although the society is suffused with Confucian values and customs, roughly half of South Koreans today identify themselves as non-religious, a quarter as Christians, and another quarter as Buddhists.

Today, those believing in the indigenous Korean myths as a religion form a minority. Among them are the followers of Chondogyo and Daejonggyo, who worship Dangun/ Tangun as a god, in addition to several rural areas where shamanism managed to survive.

Korean creation-mythology or cosmology has many variations depending on the various source, but it can be generally separated into following three categories: the first, totemic/shamanistic creation mythology,
the second Taoistic cosmology,
and the third, Buddhist-influenced cosmology.
These first two are commonly referred to as pre-Buddhist cosmologies.

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