Erica and a Wedding in Seoul!

I went to Seoul this week to spend some time with my childhood friend Erica. We’ve known each other since 2nd grade ^^ She was coming to Seoul because her boyfriend’s best friend was getting married here. 

The wedding was at the Korea House (한국의집), a beautiful traditional building that offers the traditional wedding ceremony. It was a perfect place for Erica to experience Korean culture first hand, considering the place had a mini traditional show before the actual ceremony began. 

Erica would not stop cracking up as she saw her boyfriend, a tall white guy with dreads, wear the traditional “best man” hanbok outfit. With shoes two sizes too small, he was still able to fulfill his duties and hand over the traditional marriage ducks to the groom (seen on the left). 

I tried explaining to Erica how different Korean weddings are from Western weddings. She was shocked as she realized that the people sitting inside were actually already eating the wedding buffet. The first wedding I had been two it was a fusion between western and Korean. During the western ceremony, I had also watched people leave and go eat at the buffet upstairs. When I asked I was told that the Western part isn’t really seen as important because it is Western so the guest also have no problem talking during the ceremony itself. 

The groom and the bride were the sweetest people. They were so welcoming, and I got to stay with Erica and their friends at the bride’s home. After the wedding we drove back to their place, where Erica and I proceeded to take a nap since she had come to Korea a few hours before the wedding began. Then we headed for a night out in Seoul. 

@ Club Ennui


POTD #7: Happy Halloween!

I got a Halloween surprise when my bloody (arms covered in red paint) students came to wish me a “Happy Halloween!” 

POTD #6: Patricia In Korea


Patty is finally in Korea! Now I have another friend from home sharing in the adventure ♥

Kumiho: The Nine-Tailed Fox

In the spirit of Halloween, I asked a teacher if Korea had any scary stories. “Kumiho, the Fox with the Nine-Tails”, he said. Of course my interest was peaked and so he said, “Kumiho is a nine-tailed fox who eats the hearts of humans in order to survive. She digs up graves sometimes to find hearts or attacks men.” 

A kitsune, the Japanese counterpart

The Basics

He couldn’t tell me much more so I dug up some info. Unfortunately it all seems like the information is taken from a commentary on a book that holds the oral stories of Korea, Compendium of Korean Oral Literature (한국 구비문학 대계). This is more or less taken from Wiki and all other sources that say the same basic information:

A fox that lives a thousand years turns into a Kumiho (구미호), like its Japanese and Chinese counterparts (the kitsune and the huli jing). The current Japanese kitsune can sometimes be evil and sometimes good, but the Korean counterpart over the years has become a symbol of evil. Legends tell that while the Kumiho is capable transforming its appearance, there is still something persistently fox-like about it. In Transformation of the Kimono (구미호의 변신), a Kumiho transforms into an identical likeness of a bride at a wedding. Not even the bride’s mother can tell the difference. The Kumiho is only discovered when her clothes are removed. As the mythology of the Kumiho evolved it was later believed that a Kumiho had to consume human hearts in order to survive. Another version of the mythology, however, holds that with enough will a Kumiho could further ascend from its Yokwe state and become fully, permanently human and lose its evil character. 


A Story

Though this is one of the few stories I’ve heard, scary stories in Korea tend to portray women as the evil ones in the tales. They tend to perhaps further reveal the old traditions and ways of thinking that reveal a fear of dangerous women. Bloody Mary, Lilith etc., our own literature is filled with these sorts of stories. Here is another Korean fox story, this story was translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl:

The Bone that was a Fox

One day a man relieved himself on a bone that was lying on the path. “Is it warm?” he said. “It’s warm,” the bone replied. “Is it cold?” “It’s cold,” said the bone. The frightened man ran away, hardly able to pull his pants up, and the bone chased him. Finally, he came to an ale house and he escaped out of the back. Years later the same man stopped at an ale house to drink, and he was served by a ravishingly beautiful woman. “My,” he said to her, “you look familiar for some reason.” “I should,” she replied. “Because I’m the bone you made water on all those years ago and I’ve been waiting for you!” And suddenly she changed into her true form, which was a fox, and she ate him up.

You can read more about his translated stories: Fox Wives & Other Dangerous Women and The Tale of the Fox’s Den