Descendants of the bear-woman

It has been 12 days since I last stepped out of the flat. I am not “whipping coffee 400 times” yet, but my mind does go to random places. More often than usual at least. Among many other things, I have been thinking a lot about South Korea’s founding mythology, which is taught in school and is also celebrated as a public holiday.

Legends about Tangun [mythological first king of the Koreans] differ in detail. According to one account, Hwanung left heaven to rule Earth from atop Mt. T’aebaek (Daebaik). When a bear and a tiger expressed a wish to become human beings, he ordered the beasts into a cave for 100 days and gave orders that they were to eat only mugwort and garlic and avoid the sunlight. The tiger soon grew impatient and left the cave, but the bear remained and after three weeks was transformed into a beautiful woman. It was she who became the mother of Tangun. (Britannica, 2020)

What I find most amusing about this musing is that so many fellow Koreans, in their respective ‘caves’ in different parts of the world, are making the same reference to this mythological DNA 🐻 on Twitter. That’s right. Eat your heart out, Tiger King.


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