Dangun: Wikis


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Hangul 단군왕검
Hanja 檀君王儉
Revised Romanization Dangun Wanggeom
McCune–Reischauer Tan'gun Wanggŏm

Dangun Wanggeom was the legendary founder of Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom, around present-day Liaoning, Manchuria, and the Korean Peninsula. He is said to be the grandson of heaven, and to have founded the kingdom in 2333 BC. Although the term Dangun commonly refers to the founder, some believe it was a title meaning "high priest" used by all rulers of Gojoseon, and that Wanggeom was the proper name of the founder.[1] The earliest recorded version of the Dangun legend appears in the 13th century Samguk Yusa, which cites China's Book of Wei and Korea's lost history text Gogi (古記).



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Dangun's ancestry legend begins with his grandfather Hwanin or Hwaneen (환인; 桓因), the "Lord of Heaven". Hwanin had a son Hwanung who yearned to live on the earth among the valleys and the mountains. Hwanin permitted Hwanung and 3,000 followers to descend onto Baekdu Mountain, where Hwanung founded Sinsi (신시; 神市, "City of God"). Along with his ministers of clouds, rain, and wind, he instituted laws and moral codes and taught humans various arts, medicine, and agriculture.

A tiger and a bear prayed to Hwanung that they may become human. Upon hearing their prayers, Hwanung gave them 20 cloves of garlic and a bundle of mugwort, ordering them to eat only this sacred food and remain out of the sunlight for 100 days. The tiger gave up after about twenty days and left the cave. However, the bear remained and was transformed into a woman.

The bear-woman (Ungnyeo; 웅녀; 熊女) was grateful and made offerings to Hwanung. However, she lacked a husband, and soon became sad and prayed beneath a Sindansu (신단수; 神檀樹, "Divine Betula") tree to be blessed with a child. Hwanung, moved by her prayers, took her for his wife and soon she gave birth to a son, who was named Dangun Wanggeom.

Dangun ascended to the throne, built the walled city of Asadal, situated near Pyongyang (present capital of North Korea), and called the kingdom Joseon—referred to today as "Old/Ancient Joseon" (Korean: "Gojoseon") so as not to be confused with the Joseon kingdom which occurred much later. He then moved his capital to Asadal on Mount Baegak (or Mount Gunghol). Fifteen hundred years later, in the year Kimyo, King Wu of the Zhou Dynasty enfeoffed Jizi to Joseon, and Dangun moved his capital to Jangdangyeong. Finally, he returned to Asadal and became a mountain god at the age of 1,908.[2]


Emperor Dangun's rule is usually calculated to begin in 2333 BC, based on the description of the Dongguk Tonggam (1485) as the 50th year of the reign of the legendary Chinese Emperor Yao. Other sources vary somewhat, but also put it during Yao's reign (traditional dates: 2357 BC-2256 BC). Samguk Yusa states Dangun ascended to the throne in the 50th year of Yao's reign, while Sejong Sillok says the first year and Dongguk Tonggam says the 25th year.

Until 1961, the official South Korean era (for numbering years) was called the Dangi (단기, 檀紀), which began in 2333 BC. Daejonggyo considered October 3 in the Korean calendar as Gaecheonjeol (개천절, 開天節, "Festival of the Opening of Heaven"). This day is now a national holiday in the Gregorian calendar, called National Foundation Day.

North Korea dates Dangun's founding of Gojoseon to early 30th century BC.[3]

15th March in the year 4340 of the Dangun Era is called Eocheonjeol Ceremonies (어천절,御天節), the day that the legendary founder Dangun returned to the heavens, continuing a tradition that has been passed down through the generations without interruption.


The earliest recorded version of the Dangun legend appears in the 13th century Samguk Yusa, which cites China's Book of Wei and Korea's lost history text Gogi (古記). This is the best known and most studied version, but similar versions are recorded in the Jewang Un-gi by the late Goryeo scholar Yi Seunghyu 李承休 (1224-1300), as well as the Eungje Siju and Sejong Sillok of the early Joseon dynasty.

Scholars today regard the legend as reflecting the sun-worship and totemism common in the origin myths of Northeast Asia. The bear is often found in origin myths of Manchuria and Russian Far East. The legend therefore may hint at the relationships among various tribes that worshipped the sun, bear, and tiger.[1]

Simply re-interpreted, the legend can become this:

" Around the time of Emperor Yao's reign in China, a tribal nation which worshipped the sun grew strong and began to incorporate other primitive Korean tribes and began to build a confederacy of tribes. One group, worshipping the bear as its totem, was incorporated. Another, which worshipped the tiger, was excluded from this union. From the union of the Sun tribe (in the legend, Shinshi) and the Bear tribe, Dangun Wanggeom was born, and Dangun later founded a nation, and named it Joseon. His descendants ruled Joseon until the rebellion of Wiman, or, despite controversy, until the arrival of Jizi."

It is widely accepted by present-day historians that at the time of Dangun's reign, his status was deified by placing him in the position of the Grandson of Heaven, and thus, strengthened Dangun's position as the head of a confederacy.

The story further illustrates the importance of knowledge of weather to the early agricultural peoples of Korea.

Dangun as religion

During the Mongol invasions of Korea, the Dangun legend is thought to have played an important role in national unity and patriotic mobilization against the invaders. Gosindo (고신도; 古神道), a version of Korean shamanism that considered Dangun a god, had a small following, but had largely died out by the 15th century.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a resurgence in Korean nationalism after repeated Japanese invasions and the beginning of Japanese rule (1910-1945), the movement was revived in Daejonggyo (대종교; 大宗敎). It was promoted by Na Cheol (1864-1916), but could not survive the repression under the occupation (Taejonggyo (1999)/Tangun), since it conflicted with the Japanese cultural imperialism policy. After the surrender of Japan and Korean liberation, Daejonggyo was revived, although it remains a minor religion.[4]

Dangun is worshipped today as a deity by the followers of Cheondogyo.[1]

Dangun in Taekwondo

Dangun is the second pattern or tul in the ITF form of the Korean martial art taekwon-do. Students learn that the tul represents "the holy legendary founder of Korea in the year 2333 BC." Unusually for a tul, all the punches in Dangun are high section (at eye level), symbolising Dangun scaling a mountain. see Dan-Gun Hyung.

Mausoleum of Dangun

The Mausoleum of Dangun is the alleged burial site of the legendary Dangun. The site occupies about 1.8 km² (.70 mi²) on the slope of Taebak Mountain (대박산) in North Korea. Dangun's grave is shaped like a pyramid, about 22 m (72 ft) high and 50 m (164 ft) on each side. Many observers and historians outside of North Korea, including South Korea, consider the site controversial, and possibly fraudulent.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Encyclopedia Mythica
  2. ^ Translation by Peter H. Lee
  3. ^ KCNA
  4. ^ Adherents

Further reading

External links

Preceded by
Rulers of Gojoseon
2333 BC2240 BC
Succeeded by
King Buru

Simple English

Mythologically, Dangun was the grand son of the God. He was the founder of Gojoseon. And he set up the capital at Asadal. For about 4340years, Gojoseon changed to Korea. So Dangun is Korean`s ancestor.

Once upon a time, Hwanung, the God Hwanin`s son, wanted to go down to the human world. Hwanin noticed that and let Hwanung go down to the human world with three amulets. Hwanung went to the Sindansu in Mount Taebaek, with his 3,000 followers. He managed human world`s agriculture, morals, and other 363 parts of societal works. All these things went well.

One day, two animals visited Hwanung for begging him to change them to human beings. One was tiger, and the other was bear. Hwanung gave them an armful of divine wormwood and twenty cloves of divine garlic, and said: "Eat those for 100 days without being exposed to the sunshine. Then you guys will become the human beings."

The two animals went to the cave and followed Hwanung`s order. But during this process, tiger couldn`t endure this trial, and rushed out from cave. On the other hand, bear endured this trial and became a woman. But nobody was willing to marry her. So the bear woman prayed for conceiving a baby at Sindansu. Then Hwanung transformed himself into human being for a while and married her. The bear woman gave birth to a baby. That baby was Dangun.

Dangun managed Gojoseon for 1,500 years and after that long period, Giza succeeded to the throne. And Dangun retired from the world and became a mountain god.

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