Being interested in Korean culture, I was drawn to start my research for the project in the context. I found quite a few mythologies and the three that caught my attention or rather those I heard of before/the more popular ones is the Gumiho (Nine-Tailed Fox), Dokkaebi (Korean Goblin), and Haetae/Haechi (Protector Spirit) and the one thing in common among these three Korean mythologies that their subject matters are classified as supernatural monsters.

Reading up on these three mythologies sparked a thought and idea for the project. At the mention of the word ‘monster’, most if not all. Even I myself at times would associate such beings with the idea of ‘scary’, ‘evil’ and ‘terror’ especially if one were to search up images of these mythologies online. What if all these supernatural monsters in the Korean mythology are seen as scary only because of the way their are portrayed/depicted through image? Would cute and innocent imagery change the immediate association that people have for supernatural monsters?

Thus for this project, across all three concepts/mythologies that I am focusing on, I am looking to apply techniques like watercolour or illustration together with the use of vibrant colours to re-create the subject matters of these mythologies and hopefully convey the opposite conceptions of what people might have about supernatural monsters. They need not necessarily be all that scary.

Concept 1: Gumiho 구미호 (Nine-Tailed Fox)

This mythology originates from the Classics of Mountains and Seas, an old Chinese text; before it was introduced as a Korean mythology. It tells the tale of how a fox that lives a thousand years is able to turn into this form and it’s able to freely transform, often into a beautiful woman out to seduce boys.


Image Sources (corresponding to the number labelled images):

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumiho
  2. https://saraais.deviantart.com/art/Nine-Tailed-Fox-355026288
  3. https://seandonnanart.deviantart.com/art/The-Nine-tailed-Fox-at-the-Changing-Tree-Oji-432454219
  4. http://jonlaustudio.com/Kumiho 
  5. https://www.etsy.com/listing/224328863/print-from-my-original-watercolor-page?utm_source=OpenGraph&utm_medium=PageTools&utm_campaign=Share
  6. http://genevrabell.tumblr.com/post/120665596302/ok-one-more-little-fox-before-bed-fox
  7. http://liekeland.nl/latest-work/

Concept 2: Dokkaebi 도깨비 (Korean Goblin) 

Dokkaebis are monster supernatural beings that are formed by the spiritual possession of an inanimate object or objects stained with human blood. Interestingly enough, what I found out was that there are various types of them, some of which I found rather amusing. I tried searching online but apparently no physical appearance has been given to these types. The most common depiction of how a Dokkaebi looks like is based off ancient roof tiles that had Dokkaebi patterns on it. I feel that it would be interesting and fun to come up with my own interpretations for these types of Dokkaebis while referencing existing imageries of them online.

Types of Dokkaebi

  1. Kind (참도깨비)
  2. Evil (개도깨비)
  3. Dumb farmer-looking (김서방 도깨비)
  4. Daylight (낮도깨비)
  5. Good at fighting / handling weapons – especially arrows (고도깨비)
  6. One-eyed that eats a lot (외눈도깨비)
  7. One-legged that likes to play Ssireum
    (folk wrestling) (

Source: https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Dokkaebi


Image Sources (corresponding to the number labelled images):

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Devils_(supporters_club)   
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/arts/design/silla-koreas-golden-kingdom-at-the-metropolitan-museum.html?ref=design
  3. https://espressocomsaudade.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/honest-mythkorean-dokkaebi/
  4. http://aminoapps.com/page/mythology/9450197/focus-korean-mythology
  5. http://www.para-young.com/Dokkaebi-Food-Truck-1
  6. http://www.myseoulsearching.com/2013/10/korean-ghosts-goblins-gumiho.html
  7. https://albinogoth.com/category/stories/meet-dokkaebi/

Concept 3: Haetae/Haechi 해태/해치 (Protector Spirit) 

This is a mythology that originated from the Classics of Mountains and Seas (an old Chinese text) before it was introduced as a Korean mythology. It’s about this mythical beast that protects Hanyang (now Seoul) from natural disasters and it maintains law and order among the people.

Image Sources (corresponding to the number labelled images):

  1. https://www.flickr.com/photos/38635642@N00/3050733114 
  2. https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e9/9b/7b/e99b7b78963dce97cdbd30796b2b38f1.jpg 
  3. http://m.kenterin.net/article/3921e
  4. http://terms.naver.com/entry.nhn?docId=3574483&cid=58840&categoryId=58854    
  5. http://blog.naver.com/39270613
  6. http://www.blogto.com/city/2012/10/what_if_toronto_got_itself_a_mascot/   
  7. https://www.behance.net/gallery/23767305/Haetae_mythical-unicorn-lion 

So all in all, I would say that my concept is fuelled by the intention of portraying these supernatural beings (in particular, monsters) in a different light, setting them apart from their usual association with words like ‘scary’, ‘evil’ etc. but I definitely feel that there’s room for further exploration and that better ideas can and derived from these mythologies identified.