Dangun & The birth of Korea – Korean Legend

This story begins roughly 4, 400year ago in the kingdom of the heavens. There lived a man by the name of Hwanin (환인 –  桓因), the “Lord of Heaven”.

Hwanin had a son and his sons name was Hwanung.
As Hwanung grew older he yearned to live between all the valleys and numerous mountain peaks on the earth. This was his greatest desire, and it became increasingly difficult for Lord Hwanin to watch his son longing so desperately for a life in the mortal world.

Eventually, Lord Hwanin granted Hwanung’s wish, and chose a life for him on Mount Taebaek (태백산 – 太伯山) on earth.  He told him to rule the lands and provide all humans with great happiness. The King did not send his son alone, but made sure he had 3000 helpers, as well as the rain, the clouds and the wind to assist him in ruling the city Hwanung would establish. After settling on earth Hwanung founded  Sinsi  (신시; 神市), or “City of God.”

Slowly Hwanung began teaching the mortals about laws, moral conduct and various skills like agriculture, arts and medicine. At this time even the animals desired to be human as they saw the great happiness that Hwanung was sharing with all human-beings. Everyone welcomed his leadership and lived enriched lives under his rule.

Meanwhile there was a bear and a tiger who lived in one of the caves in Hwanung’s kingdom. They prayed day and night to be able to become people instead of animals. Hwanung heard their plea and felt sorry for the bear and tiger, he wanted to grant them their wish, but decided to give them instructions to follow, instead of transforming them to people himself. If they followed his  instructions, if they were diligent, obedient and could overcome themselves then they would indeed become human.

“Eat only garlic and mugwort for 100 days, and be sure to stay out of the sunlight. If you can keep these rules then you will be transformed into people”, said Hwanung.

Both animals eagerly accepted the challenge and thanked their great leader, vowing to only eat the sacred food and remain in the shelter of their cave for 100days. Shortly afterwards the tiger gave up and left the cave, but the bear was determined to become human.

After carefully following Hwanungs instructions the bear became a woman and got the name Ungnyeo (웅녀 –  熊女). She was so very grateful for everything Hwanung had done for her, yet still there was something she desired. Ungnyeo felt lonely. She prayed again daily beneath a Sandalwood tree that she might find someone to love her, and tha she would be blessed with a husband.  Hwanung, once again was moved by her prayers and took her for his wife.

Ungnyeo gave birth to a son, and she named him Dangun Wanggeom (단군 왕검 –  檀君王儉).
In fiftieth year of the reign of Emperor Yao, a legendary Chinese sage, Dangun took to the throne to take over form his fathers rule.  He built the  walled city of Pyŏngyang, and named his kingdom Joseon.

Thousands of years later, this kingdom that was established by Dangun and his ancestry, has expanded, developed and flourished to what is now known as Korea
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