October 3rd is Foundation Day in Korea

On October 3rd, we celebrate 개천절 (gae-cheon-jeol) or the founding of Korea. According to the story written in the “Samguk Yusa” (or the “Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms”), heaven sent Dangun as the founder of Gojoseon (Old Joseon) in 2333 BC. If you have seen the Korean drama “Jumong”, you would probably have heard about the people of Gojoseon.

The Dangun Shrine at Sajik Park (photo taken in April 2008)
The Dangun Shrine at Sajik Park (photo taken in April 2008)

So how was Korea founded according to the legend?
The Lord of Heaven called “Hwanin” had a son “Hwaneung” who wanted to live on earth. Hwanin sent his son along with 3,000 followers to Mt. Baekdu, where Hwaneung founded “Sinsi” or the “City of God”.
Meanwhile, a tiger and a bear prayed to Hwaneung to make them human. He told the animals to stay away from sunlight and stay in a cave for 100 days and gave them 20 cloves of garlic and a bundle of mug worth (sook-kat in Korean) to eat. The tiger gave up after 20 days but the bear endured. The bear transformed into a beautiful woman.
The woman wanted to have a child and again she prayed to Hwaneung. He took her for his wife and soon they had a child they called “Dangun Wanggeom”. When Dangun ascended his father’s throne, he founded the walled city of Pyongyang and established the kingdom of Gojoseon.
Watch the story here…

Interesting, isn’t it? I used to think that it was ridiculous the way people think it’s factual, but back then I didn’t realize that it is a mythical story. Like Korea, the Philippines also has legends and myths. However, the difference is that some don’t pay attention (like moi)…
So what are you doing today?


  1. That story is pretty interesting. I won’t be surprised why they have such rich cultural heritage. 🙂

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