Korean Folk Tales: Imps, Ghosts and Fairies | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications. Many of the tales in this collection included introductory and/or end note text which has been moved to the Notes section for each tale.

Magic Invasion of Seoul, The

A GENTLEMAN of Seoul was one day crossing the Han River in a boat. In the crossing, he nodded for a moment, fell asleep and dreamed a dream. In his dream he met a man who had Gothic eyebrows and almond eyes, whose face was red as ripened dates, and whose height was eight cubits and a span. He was dressed in green and had a long beard that came down to his belt-string. A man of majestic appearance he was, with a great sword at his side and he rode on a red horse.

               He asked the gentleman to open his hand, which he did, and then the august stranger dashed a pen-mark on it as the sign of the God of War. Said he, "When you cross the river, do not go direct to Seoul, but wait at the landing. Seven horses will shortly appear, loaded with network hampers, all proceeding on their journey to the capital. You are to call the horsemen, open your hand, and show them the sign. When they see it they will all commit suicide in your very presence. After that, you are to take the loads and pile them up, but don't look into them. Then you are to go at once and report the matter to the Palace and have them all burned. The matter is of immense importance, so do not fail in the slightest particular."

               The gentleman gave a great start of terror and awoke. He looked at his hand and there, indeed, was the strange mark. Not only so, but the ink had not yet dried upon it. He was astonished beyond measure, but did as the dream had indicated, and waited on the river's bank. In a little there came, as he was advised, the seven loads on seven horses, coming from the far-distant South. There were attendants in charge, and one man wearing an official coat came along behind. When they had crossed the river the gentleman called them to him and said, "I have something to say to you; come close to me." These men, unsuspecting, though with somewhat of a frightened look, closed up. He then showed them his hand with the mark, and asked them if they knew what it was. When they saw it, first of all, the man in the official coat turned and with one bound jumped over the cliff into the river. The eight or nine who accompanied the loads likewise all rushed after him and dashed into the water.

               The scholar then called the boatmen, and explained to them that the things in the hampers were dangerous, that he would have to make it known to the Palace, and that in the meantime they were to keep close guard, but that they were not to touch them or look at them.

               He hurried as fast as possible, and reported the matter to the Board of War. The Board sent an official, and had the loads brought into Seoul, and then, as had been directed, they were piled high with wood and set on fire. When the fire developed, the baskets broke open, and little figures of men and horses, each an inch or so long, in countless numbers, came tumbling out.

               When the officials saw this they were frozen with fear; their hearts ceased beating and their tongues lolled out. In a little, however, the hampers were all burned up.

               These were the creation of a magician, and were intended for a monster invasion of Seoul, until warned by Kwan.

               From that time on the people of Seoul began faithful offerings to the God of War, for had he not saved the city?

                Im Bang.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Magic Invasion of Seoul, The
Tale Author/Editor: Bang, Im
Book Title: Korean Folk Tales: Imps, Ghosts and Fairies
Book Author/Editor: Bang, Im & Ryuk, Yi
Publisher: E. P. Dutton & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1913
Country of Origin: Korea
Classification: unclassified

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