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Faces of Korea: Dokkaebi Updated: 2007-02-08 12:00:00 KST

Faces of Korea: Dokkaebi
Time to sit back and learn a thing or two about Korean culture.
In this edition of Faces of Korea, we introduce you to a mythical creature that's capable of both mischief and good.
It's called the dokkaebi in Korean, and its one of the 100 icons selected by the Culture and Tourism Ministry to represent Korea.

The traditional Korean goblin dokkaebi is a common character in folk tales.
The creature would sometimes grant a person's wish, but would also punish at other times.

The dokkaebi is a symbol of the ancient Korean religion byeoksa, which specializes in driving out demons.

This theater in Seoul is crowded with children who came to see a play.

The title of this children's play is "Nolbo meets dokkaebi," a show filled with masked dances and folk songs.
The dokkaebi in this play helps nice people and punishes the bad.

Who here doesn't know the story of Nolbo, about his hard time with a dokkaebi from a gourd

RECORDED: "I thought that a tokkaebi had a horn and a bat. This was a good opportunity to learn about Korea's dokkaebi."

People have used the dokkaebi for humor and satire, but also fear the goblin.

RECORDED: "The dokkaebi is very interesting in plays. It's a useful character for dramatic imagination and expression. So we use a dokkaebi in every performance."

The dokkaebi is often found in children's stories, plays and musicals, and has made children laugh and learn lessons.
So when did the goblin debut in Korean history

RECORDED: "People in coastal provinces have performed religious services to dokkaebi.
The dokkaebi is believed to like and gather fish."

The dokkaebi can also tell good people from bad, and sometimes frightens them.

Stories of real dokkaebi have been also passed down.

One story is about someone who meets a friend after drinking.
When he wakes up, he finds himself a forest or beach alone instead of home.

RECORDED: "Ancient folk religions say the dokkaebi was in charge of getting a family's property."

Certain dokkaebi look human.
Others are said to be found in everyday instruments used by people.

The Japanese goblin oni looks different from a dokkaebi.
The oni has a horn on its head and one eye, while the dokkaebi more closely resembles a human.

RECORDED: "The National Folk Museum of Korea Fire dokkaebi, giant dokkaebi and sambara resemble humans.
Other dokkaebi do not have shapes, but we can sense them through the sounds they make, like the pounding of a horse's hooves or the breaking of roof tiles."

The dokkaebi is a master of disguise, and a powerful figure in the Korean psyche.
The goblin could come at any time to bring pleasure or punishment.
Reporter :
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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