Folktales

The Story of Kim Pan-dol (Dohwa-dong)

According to a local legend, during the reign of King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty, a local fisherman, Kim Pan-dol caught fish at Bamseom Island every day and sold it at the Chilpae Market. One day, while fishing, looking at his house, he admired the best scenery of the area. Then, when the anchor touched something, as he thought the boat had arrived, he got off the boat and ended up drowning.

 

The Story of Mallijae Ridge (Gongdeok-dong)

Choe Malli, who was a scholar during the reign of King Sejong (Joseon Dynasty), loved alcohol. One day, when he went to see the king at the palace, he was still drunk. Thus, King Sejong told Choe concernedly, “From now on, do not drink more than three glasses of alcohol a day for your health.”

As he couldn’t disobey the royal command, he made his glass big by himself and drank three glasses a day. Later, when the king granted Choe an audience and noticed that Choe drank a lot, the king rebuked him, saying “You seem drunk again. What happened?” Then, Choe’s colleague said, “Malli drank only three glasses as your command. However, he had made himself a bigger glass.”

King Sejong laughed and said, “I didn’t know that you would obey my command so strictly like that.” Then, the king ordered to make a large silver glass and keep it in the main building at the Hall of Worthies so as to serve Choe Malli drinks with the glass.

King Sejong, who cared about Malli, granted him a house in present-day Jongno-gu. As the house site was so spacious, people used to call it Cheonganheo, meaning ‘the site that could have a house with ten thousand kan (a unit of measurement referring to the distance between two columns)’, and the ridge at the house is called Mallijae (meaning Ridge Malli).

 

The Story of Boatman Son Dol (Hyeonseok-dong)

Son Dol was a famous boatman during the Goryeo Dynasty. When the Mongolian army invaded Korea, Son Dol carried King Gojong and the royal family on a ship to flee to Gwanghwa. However, due to northwesterly wind in winter, he went in the wrong direction and dropped the oar in the middle of the swirling waters. As an aristocrat onboard predicated that Son tried to kill the king, Son was executed on the ship. However, it was found out that Son Dol tried to have the king evacuated safely by luring the Mongolian army into a trap. Therefore, a proper funeral was held for Son. Some 500 years later, during the reign of King Injo of the Joseon Dynasty, a similar situation happened to Boatman Hyeonseok, who lived in present-day Hyeonseok-dong.

Hyeonseok carried the king, the queen, the prince and vassals to flee to Namhansanseong Fortress. When the ship reached the middle of the river, suddenly attacked storm broke out and the water was creating a violent whirlpool. Although other areas were clear and calm, the weather became violent only around the spot that they were. Then, one of the vassals suggested sacrificing the boatman to the Sea God thinking that it was the boatman’s fault.

Thus, Hyeonseok was tied up and thrown into the water. Then, surprisingly, the weather cleared and the ship without the boatman arrived at the riverside. When people got off the ship and looked toward Hyeonseok-ri, Hyeonseok’s old mother and wife was wailing loudly on their opposite side of the river. Therefore, a shrine was built to comfort Hyeonseok’s soul and hold a memorial service once a year. This is the background story of building Bugundang Shrine in Hyeonseok-dong.

 

A Story of Gaebawi (Dog Rock) Hill (Gongdeok-dong)

A rich man, who was very mean over money, lived in the area of present-day Gongdeok-dong during the reign of King Cheoljong of the Joseon Dynasty. As he had no children, he raised a big dog as his child for dozens of years. But one day, the dog wandered out and didn’t come back.

Looking for the dog, he saw the similar shape of his dog at the village entrance in southern side of Ssangryongsan Mountain. As he was so pleased to find it, when he ran toward it while calling the dog’s name, the dog turned its head and started barking. However, when he approached it, it was actually a rock and not the dog. When he found the rock, he realized that everything was evanescent. Thus, he gave wealth out to his villagers and left the village to lead a wandering life.

Meanwhile, after this Dog Rock (gaebawi) was found, robbers didn’t break into the village. Thus, villagers decided to make the rock the village guardian and held a memorial service every year at the Dog Rock on July 1st in the lunar calendar when the rich man left the village. Under the rock, there is a well, called Naengjeongmul or Chanumul, meaning ‘cold well’. According to a myth, the rich man’s dog left the house and drank water from the well, and then became the rock. Although shamanistic rituals were held at the area by shamans until 40 years ago, it was stopped after the Korean War.

 

The Story of Maiden Dohwa (Dohwa-dong)

It is said that a good-natured old man known as Kim and his only daughter Dohwa lived together in the area. As she was very beautiful and kind-hearted, she was chosen as the Jade Emperor’s daughter-in-law and ascended to heaven.

A heavenly official took pity on Kim, who was sad as he had to be separated from his daughter, and gave Kim a heavenly peach. Kim planted its seed near his house and raised a peach tree in the same caring manner he raised his daughter.

When Kim died, his villagers planted and looked after peach trees to commemorate Kim and his daughter Dohwa. Thus the village area was covered by peach blossoms.

 

The Story of the Chinese Soldier of the Ming Dynasty and the Korean Maiden (Dangin-dong)

A Chinese soldier of the Ming Dynasty, who came to Korea as part of a relieving force during the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592, fell in love with a maiden of the Joseon Dynasty. Although the war had ended, he didn’t go back to his country and proposed to marry the maiden. She did not accept the proposal, however. Then she became a second wife of a Korean man, who failed in the civil examination, and followed him to Gyeongsang-do Province. She was ill-treated by his first wife and three years later, the husband died. Thus, she had to come back to her parents’ home in present-day Dangin-dong. The Chinese soldier who had not forgotten her and continued to wait for her, asked for her hand in marriage.

This time she accepted and they were married.

He was very strong, diligent, and exceptionally skilled, especially in dying fabric. He mainly dyed pigtail ribbons and wrote characters in gold color on them. By doing that, he accumulated much wealth. Although he was very content as he had a loving wife and five sons, he hoped that he could see his parents before death. Thus, the husband went to China and she, the mother of five boys, was waiting for him to return, but he didn’t come back. About five years later, a Chinese man came to say to the wife that her husband already died from typhoid in China and handed over to her two golden nuggets that her husband had left behind. Their five sons grew up, resembling their father, and since then, people called the village ‘daengmari’.

 

The Shrine of King Gongmin conquering the Japanese Invaders (Changjeon-dong)

A trustworthy warehouse keeper lived near Seogangnaru Ferry. One day, he dozed off, leaning against a wall, and dreamt. In his dream, there was a royal procession from which one government official stepped forward and said loudly, “King Gongmin of the Goryeo Dynasty is present. Prostrate yourself and receive the order.” The warehouse keeper didn’t know where to put himself and lay down on the ground flat. Then, the king said, “When I was younger, I visited here to appreciate Seogang’s splendid scenery. Passing through, I’ve come to see the scenery after all these years. The Eight Scenic Views of Seogang are still magnificent. As it happens, I met you here, so I will give you an order. Prepare a place for me on that hill so that whenever I visit here, I can take a rest. Then, your village will be prosperous and in peace.”

The warehouse keeper woke up from the dream. As the dream was so vivid, he went up to the hill (present-day: at San 2, Changjeon-dong) that the king had mentioned and found the portrait of King Gongmin. Thus, he built the shrine in that place. Since then, a large ancestral rite was held every year on October 1 in the lunar calendar. If the rite was careless or impious, the village experienced a disaster; for example, a fire occurred at the warehouse or a ship loaded with grains was damaged by a violent storm. The shrine is home to portraits of King Gongmin, Queen Noguk, Prince, Princesses and General Choe Yeong.

It is also said that as King Gongmin hated Japanese raiders; if a Japanese person was near the shrine, that person was harassed or harmed. One day, Jang Mok, a Japanese civil engineer who wrote A Story from Gangan in Joseon, accidentally passed before the shrine in Changjeon-dong. Suddenly his stomach turned, and he broke out in a cold sweat, vomited everything he ate, and passed out for a while. Then, an old man wearing a beard and gold clothes appeared, slapped the Japanese on the cheek, and stormed, “Get out of here!” Jang Mok came to, looked around and found out that his Korean colleagues were carrying him to the hospital after taking emergency measures. The doctor said to him it was acute appendicitis caused from overwork. However, he couldn’t forget the old man that appeared in his dream, so he went back to the shrine and the same physical symptoms occurred to him. Therefore, he warned other Japanese people that the shrine was mysterious, so they shouldn’t be around it.

 

The Story of Goryeojang (ancient burial practice whereby an elderly person is left to die in an open tomb) (Nogosan Mountain)

A Seonangdang (shrine to the village deity) used to be located next to Soongmoon High School. A part of the Seonangdang site was incorporated into the school and the zelkova tree in front of the shrine was believed to protect the village. Many elderly people lived in the village next to the shrine. At the time of practicing Goryeojang, dying elderly people were considered to be useless One day, there was a notice announced by the county magistrate in accordance of the king’s order, commanding the abandonment all of elderly people in the village to Nogosan Mountain.

A young couple, who lived on the hill where the shrine was situated, couldn’t abandon their old, sick mother, so they built a small house with a room for her to live in. They dressed her in colorful clothes and a conical hat, and let her sit on the altar. Then, they went down to the village and said to people that the previous night a deity appeared to them in a dream, saying ‘The village will soon meet with misfortune. If you take good care of me, you will be spared from the misfortune.’ Thus, he woke up from the dream, went to the hill, and found a new house there inside which a deity was sitting in the same way that he had saw in the dream. They spread this story to the villagers.

Surprised, the people ran toward the hill and found the old person wearing a conical hat was sitting there. People were amazed when the old person guessed correctly about people’s family stories and village events. She was well acquainted with village affairs because her son and his wife were responsible for those affairs for a long time. As people were surprised and said that the deity came down to the village, they put a gold chain around the house where the old lady was stayed, stopped the public from accessing the house, and set the food table in the mornings and evenings.

The county magistrate also heard about this story and came to see the deity. As he did a dishonest act, he was worried about a king would find out about what he had done and didn’t know what to do. Then, the old lady stormed at him, saying “How could you embezzle the country’s money and make your wife a slave?” She ordered him to undo those things immediately. As the county magistrate was so surprised by her exact awareness about the problems, he bowed deeply hundreds of times and went back home. Once he did as he was told, nothing happened to him. She lived and was taken care of and brought food offered by villagers until the day she died. That’s why the mountain behind Seonangdang is also called Nogosan (old woman mountain).