The Korean Myths A Guide to the Gods, Heroes and Legends

Heinz Insu Fenkl, Bella Myong-wol Dalton-Fenkl

A fascinating introduction to the world of Korean myth and legend.

The myths of Korea may seem a complex and intriguing mix of ghosts, spirits, and superstition, but they form the bedrock of one of the most vibrant global cultures today. In the past few decades, South Korea has experienced a rapid rise to prominence on the world stage as the Hallyu, the "Korean wave" of popular culture, drives newfound interest in the country. This swift transformation has also generated paradoxes within contemporary South Korea, where cutting-edge technology now coexists with centuries-old shamanistic legends and Buddhist rituals.

Korean myths are a living and evolving part of society, in both the North and South. With the export of Korean film across the globe, K-pop, fashion, K-dramas, literature, and comics there is a growing desire to understand the folklore and mythical underpinnings of contemporary Korean culture. Authors Heinz Insu Fenkl and Bella Dalton-Fenkl bring together a wealth of knowledge of both the new and the old, the traditional and the modern, to guide readers through this fascinating history and help them understand the culture and traditions of the Korean people. From the Changsega ("Song of Creation") sung by shamans to the gods, goddesses, and monsters who inhabit the cosmos—including the god Mireuk, creator of the world, and the giant Grandma Mago, who was able to create mountains from the mud on her skirt—these myths have been disseminated for centuries and continue to resonate in popular culture today.


Heinz Insu Fenkl


Heinz Insu Fenkl is a professor of English at the State University of New York, New Paltz. He is known internationally for his collection of Korean folktales and translations of contemporary Korean fiction and classical Buddhist texts. He is a PEN/Hemingway Award finalist and was included in the Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection.

Bella Myong-wol Dalton-Fenkl


Bella Myong-wol Dalton-Fenkl is an artist and photographer, whose work has been exhibited at the Water Street Gallery in New Paltz, and at Mill Street Loft and the Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie. Her photography has also appeared in the journal Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture.