The Korean Legend of Dan Gun
The Korean legend of Dan Gun begins with the “Lord of Heaven” who had a son, Hwan-ung, who yearned to live on Earth. The legend states that the heaven and earth were one, and all animals could communicate with humans and gods. Hwan-ung wanted earthly rule, so his father sent him to Earth to gain his desire. When he went to Earth he met a tiger and a bear who "prayed" to become human. Hwan-ung proposed a test, which if completed would make the contestant a human. The tiger and bear were given wormwood and twenty cloves of garlic and told to stay out of the sunshine for 100 days. The tiger could not endure and in the end the bear was able to complete the task, and after 100 days, became a human but the woman ended up lonely and prayed for a mate. So, Hwan-ung took her as a wife, and Dan Gun was born as a result of their union. Dan Gun is said to be the progenitor of the Korean race. Purpose of the myth:
In the beginning of the myth the Heavenly Prince asks his father for the "beautiful" peninsula of Korea. This makes Koreans proud to be in the country they live because being a Heavenly Prince he could have picked any land in the world to govern and he chose Korea. This makes Korea a special place from the beginning of the myth. Later in the myth the bear and the tiger prayed so hard and long to become human that eventually the Heavenly Prince gave them a chance to do so. This part of the story reinforces the belief that if you are persistent and pray to your God that your prayers may come true. When the bear turned into a woman she was soon asking that she may have a baby, which shows a motherly instinct and how ultimately human that she had become. Role of Men and Women
Korean women once enjoyed nearly equal legal status with men, but that changed over the course of the Chosun Dynasty. During this period women were not to be seen by anyone outside their family and they remained confined at home. The only time a woman could go out...
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