Summer is right on the corner knocking our doors. Enjoying outdoor activities sounds like a good idea, but when you find yourself out in the hot stuffy air, it would seem wise to stay indoors where they are bamming out air conditioners. In fact, there is one activity that can take your summer vacation indoors and give you extra chill – horrors. Since summer is the season for horror movies, theme parks, horror everything in Korea, we would like to introduce you to the different types of Korean ghosts.
Cheonyeogwishin, which stands for a ghost of a virgin who reached a marriageable age but died unmarried, is probably the most well-known Korean ghost. Also as known as “Songaksi(손각시),” it is referred that the spirit of virgin ghost bears grudge on the girls who are around her age. Somewhat reminds of a spinster of hysteria, a virgin ghost puts the wrath out on people, especially girls. Back in the old times, as part of shamanistic rituals, people pronounced marriage to a virgin ghost prior to the actual marriage ceremony. Otherwise, it was thought that this virgin ghost will get jealous and will bring bad luck to newlyweds.
A virgin ghost’s symbolic appearance is a young woman who appears at night, with dangling loose hair, in a white dress with blood traces around. There are many famous Korean horror movies of virgin ghost motifs that are especially known for their striking resemblance to reality and scariness.
Films on the Girls’ High School Ghost Story (여고괴담) have 5 series, starting from the first series Whispering Corridors in 1998 to the latest one, A Blood Pledge, in 2005. Featuring on high school girls’ rivalry and friendship, Girls’ High School Ghost Story series are thought to be the classic scary movies on virgin ghosts. There is also a horror movie featuring virgin ghosts, A Tale of Two Sisters (장화, 홍련). This movie actually takes cues from one of the Korean anecdotes in which the ghosts of wrongly persecuted two sisters by their stepmother take action. Though not exactly connected to this traditional story, the movie has been successful in Korean movie industry.
And yes, there also is a ghost of an unmarried man, the bachelor ghost. This ghost usually appears in the deep, remote forests. Traditionally, when a person dies unmarried, no such memorial ceremony was held. The bachelor ghost, therefore, has grudge on this so that he harms people by bringing diseases.
There is a Korean traditional legend on a nine-tailed fox, a ghost of a female in a fox’s body. It is said that in order for a fox to turn into a Goomiho, it needs to be 1000 years old and eat a man’s liver. According to the legend, the nine tailed fox falls in love with a man and transforms itself into a beautiful young lady to marry him. She desires to be a real woman, and in order to be so, she needs to live with him for 100 days without getting caught while transforming. On the very last day, however, Goomiho gets caught while transforming into a fox at night, and she runs away from the man forever.
In fact, the nine tailed fox is actually a friendly ghost to many. There are many TV productions on Goomiho described as an amiable girl next door. TV drama “My girlfriend is the fox with nine tails (내 여자친구는 구미호)” is a romantic comedy drama of a university student Daewoong falling in love with a Goomiho.
Similar to a Kelpie from Scottish folklore, Korea also has a variation for a haunted spirit from a drowning accident, a water ghost, which drowns swimmers into the river. This ghost is notorious for grabbing swimmers and not letting them to escape, making them drown. Many stories on water ghosts date back long into the history, since most villages back in the days had their own water stream and a well. Hence, the story goes like this. An innocent boy hears someone calling, goes to the direction which leads to a well. Out of curiosity, he looks into the well, only ending up to be snatched by a hand that drags him into the well.
Korean goblins are also the core characters of a Korean folk tale. They are the evil-spirited monsters who live in deep forests and mountains, bullying people and committing all sorts of evil deeds. Their appearance is formidably scary; with a green skin that resembles a frog, they have a horn on the top of head and carries around a spiky stick. Despite its unappealing look, according to legends, goblin behaves as a human being who knows how to appreciate when helped, punishes the bad and knows how to have fun.
Dalgyal means an egg; Dalgyalgwishin is named such since it has no face. For example, you are walking alone on the streets during the night when the rain is pouring outside. There is a woman who is walking ahead of you. You get curious and scared to walk alone, so you try to approach her. However, as you become close to her, she stops and turns her head around, which, surprisingly, has no eyes, nose and lips. Just the face. Yikes!