Korean Dragons

Dragon History

Korean Dragons

Korean dragons: Dragons of Good Luck
by Marisa E. Martínez Pérsico

The Korean dragon presents unique characteristics that distinguish it from the dragons in other cultures.  While most of the dragons in western mythology are related generally to elements like the fire and the destruction, the dragons in the Korean mythology (denominated yong) are benevolent beings. They are tied to the water and agriculture, as amulets to attract rain and clouds. It is the reason why many legend maintains that most of these fabulous beings reside in rivers, lakes, oceans or even in pools inside the mountains.

Korean DragonThe symbol of the dragon appears in mythology and old Korean art with a clear political connotation: it represents the emperor, also associated to rain and agriculture. An old legend mentions great king Munmu, who in his deathbed wished to turn the Eastern Sea in a dragon to protect Korea.

The Korean dragon has certain specific characteristics: it lacks wings and has a long beard. Some of them have claws, like the Yeoiju dragon.

An animal related with the dragon is the well-known mythological creature called Imugi. Diverse histories circulate about the Imugi: some, for example say that they are creatures without horns that resembled dragons but that they were cursed and could not evolve into dragons. Others affirm that an Imugi is a proto-dragon that must survive thousand years to transform itself completely into a dragon. In all the cases, they are portrayed as kind beasts and enormous like serpents (pythons) that habitats waters or caves. Habitually they are associated with good luck.

Another famous species of Korean dragon is the Kye-ryong, that is a compound animal: a mixture of “dragon” and “chicken”.

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