The Korean Dokkaebi

The Korean Dokkaebi

Continuing with the Korean folklore, this present article will be about the Korean dokkaebi. There are some things to explain so as to not create confusion. In Korean culture, a dokkaebi is a goblin that possesses extraordinary powers and can either help or harm humans.

Putting a translation on the term dokkaebi is kind of difficult. This is mostly due to the views that Western people have on goblins. In European folklore, goblins are evil creatures and behave in a malevolent way. The dokkaebi are creatures with supernatural powers and they possess both positive and negative characteristics. They like to make humans happy but they can also bring misfortune. To put it simple, for Koreans a dokkaebi is similar to a leprechaun for the Irish.

In the Korean culture, a dokkaebi appears through the spiritual possession of an inanimate object. These can be brooms, mortars or objects stained with human blood.

The Korean DokkaebiThe Korean Dokkaebi

In certain remote villages of Korea, people thought that the dokkaebi were responsible for diseases such as smallpox. Some people believed that these creatures also had the ability to control all sea creatures. Therefore, lots of fishing communities worshiped the spirits of dokkaebi in the hopes of gaining a big catch.

As with every mythological creature, there are more versions when it comes to the appearance of the Korean dokkaebi. They can have different shapes and sizes, with features such as big eyes and mouth, horns, sharp teeth, hairy body and long claws. Typically, they are night creatures, but they can also wander about during the rainy days.

Most Korean legends also include the dokkaebi in them. They usually play pranks on mortals or punish them for their bad deeds. One such story is with a man that lived alone in the mountains when a dokkaebi pays him a visit. The man offers it an alcoholic beverage and the two become friends. However, one day the man noticed he started looking more and more like the dokkaebi. This is how he knew he must chase it away. The two exchanged stories of their biggest fears and the man took advantage of this to scare the dokkaebi. Thus, he poured cow blood over his house, and in revenge the dokkaebi brought the man money, thinking it was his biggest fear. The man became the richest in the city and lived happily.

In conclusion, a dokkaebi is neither a ghost nor a monster. The best way to call it would probably be creature. In contrast to goblins, the dokkaebi have a milder temperament and can be even playful to humans.



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