soar to stifling levels during the summer, people seek sanctuary in
horror movies or horror fiction. In Korea, a drama series called Hometown
Legends is aired every summer. The popular TV series explores terrifying
local legends. For example, the stories involve the spirits of young
maidens who suffered unfortunate deaths or a wife who goes to a cemetery
to revive her dying husband. Let’s visit popular destinations that
are linked with some of the horror stories in Hometown Legends.
probe my undeserved death!”
- Legend of Aranggak Pavilion in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do
Arang comes to Miryang with her father
who is dispatched as the highest-ranking officer (district magistrate)
of Miryang. One night, she is goaded by her nanny to go out and
watch the night landscape.
As she watches the moon from a pavilion, Arang suddenly finds her
nanny is missing and sets out to find her. During her search, she
comes across Baekga, a low-ranked officer.
Having had feelings for Arang, he confesses his love to her but
is firmly refused. In an attempt to forcibly embrace her, he mistakenly
Unaware of his daughter’s death, Arang’s father thinks she fled
with a man at night. Crestfallen, he quits his job and leaves Miryang.
Subsequently, however, all newly dispatched
district magistrates die of heart attacks after seeing a maiden
ghost. For this reason, no one wants to become the district magistrate
of Miryang except a man by the family name of Lee.
While reading under a candlelight, Lee encounters the maiden ghost
with loosened hair and a knife through her neck. Unlike other magistrates,
Lee starts a conversation with her rather than showing his fears.
The maiden ghost reveals her identity as Arang and pleads that he
investigate the secret of her unfair death.
When morning arrives, Lee finds Baekga and convicts him of killing
Arang. Then, he finds her body, organizes a religious service on
her behalf, and sets up a small shrine for her. Since then, no maiden
ghost has ever appeared.
on Aranggak Pavilion >>
me back my leg.”
- Legend of Mt. Bakdalsan Deokdaegol in Yeongdong-gun,
Located deep in Mt. Bakdalsan, Deokdaegol
Valley had once been used to discard dead bodies. Today, no trace
of the burial place remain, but there used to be a village nearby
in the old days. In the village lived a wife who had been taking care
of her sick husband for a long time.
One day, a monk tells her that her husband could be cured by drinking
water boiled with a leg of a human body that hasn’t been dead for
more than three days. Determined to save her husband, the wife sets
out to Deokdaegol and finds the body of a dead man.
In spite of her fears, she cuts off the leg and runs back home.
On her way back, the dead body without a leg follows her crying,
“Give me back my leg.” Stumbling and crawling, the wife finally
gets home and keeping away from the dead body that had followed
her all the way to her kitchen, throws the leg into a pot of boiling
water and covers it.
When she has her husband drink the water from the pot, his sickness
goes away instantly.
As the couple looked for the body to bury
it, they are surprised and happy to find that what the wife had
taken was not the leg of a man but that of a wild ginseng.
on Mt. Bakdalsan (Korean) >>
Story of a Dog Fighting a Ghost of a Cat
Legend of Angang Village in Gyeongju, Gyeongsagbuk-do
A long time ago in Angang Village,
there lived a married couple, a young son, a dog called Suri and
a cat called Nabi. One evening, the husband is infuriated to find
that Suri and Nabi had overturned the dinner table, so he beats
Suri and hands over Nabi to his older brother who had told him that
it is good to eat the meat of a well-cooked cat. That same night,
the brother wants to kill Nabi but is instead attacked by the cat
and dies. Upon learning this, the husband kills Nabi.
After its death, the son shows a strange behavioral
disorder mimicking a cat. Upon hearing the story of the couple,
a passing monk tells them that the cause is poison from the body
of a centipede that had died on the roof and fell on the dinner
table. Alarmed by the impending danger, Nabi and Suri had overturned
the dinner table to save the family. But instead of thanking them,
the man misunderstood and drove the dog out of the house and caused
the death of the cat. The injustice done to the cat brought misfortune
to the son. To remedy the situation, the monk advises the man to
After returning home, Suri starts a life-or-death
fight against the spirit of Nabi that had infiltrated the son’s
body at night. Suri finally wins but, during the fight, a candle
falls and burns the house down. Suri risks his life to save the
young son and dies.
* The above photo courtesy
a Snake that Eats Only Young Maidens
Legend of Gimnyeonggul of Guja-myeon in Jeju-do
There once lived a humongous snake in Gimnyeonggul Cave.
The residents were troubled by its evil deeds. So, to appease the
snake and stop it from destroying the land and crops every year,
the residents decided to prepare a feast for it and offer a 15-year
old maid as a sacrifice.
During the reign of King Jungjong of the
Joseon dynasty (1392~1910), an officer called
Seorin was dispatched to the area as the district magistrate and
learned of this custom. He leads an army of a hundred military men
to the cave and, faking a religious ceremony, kills the snake with
a sword and puts it on fire. Since then, the snake was never seen
on Gimnyeonggul Cave >>
Brother and Sister Rock that Fell in Love
- Legend of Somaemuldo in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do Province
There lived a couple by the name Kwon in Tongyeong, Hansan-myeon
Village. They gave birth to twins at a late age. One day, the man
learns that the brother and sister twins will not live for long.
He didn’t want to lose his son, so when the children turned six,
he took his daughter and abandoned her on Maemuldo Island.
Time passed and the son turned eighteen years old. Curious about
the island where nobody lives, the son sails to the island one day
and finds a young maiden. He falls in love at first sight. Determined
to marry her, the son takes her to his boat but is struck by thunder
and storm. As it turns out, they were punished for engaging in an
impossible love and were each turned into a rock. Standing in the
sea facing each other, the rocks are said to meet each other once
every three years. They have been called Nammae Bawi (Brother and
on Somaemuldo Island >>
the Real Wife!
- Legend of Yeougol in Cheorwon, Gangwon-do
A long time ago, there lived a man by the name Kim in Galmaleup
Village in Cheorwon-gun. He enjoyed hunting very much. One day after
a hunt, as he was passing a ridge, he saw a fox with a chicken in
his mouth and shot and killed it with his arrow.
After this incident, his wife gave birth to a son. When he turned
five, the son started behaving strangely, catching and eating frogs
and snakes. Kim tried everything he could to change his son to no
avail. Fortunately, when the son turned twenty, he completely changed
and married a beautiful woman. But soon, another woman who looked
exactly like his wife appeared, arguing that she was the real wife.
A passing monk secretly told Kim that the two women should be put
to compete in a high jump over a pole and the one who jumps over
it is the fake one. Kim took the advice and had the two women jump
over the pole. One only hesitated and the other jumped over easily.
Then, Kim shot with an arrow the woman who had jumped. She fell
bleeding and slowly turned into a fox. The fox had turned into a
woman to exact revenge against Kim for its mate’s death twenty years
ago. Whenever it rains, the crying of foxes can be heard from the
mountain behind the village, so it has since been called Yeougol
on Sambuyeon Falls >>
* The above photo courtesy