도깨비 Dokkaebi

There is a dokkaebi that lives in our house. Doors will slam shut by themselves. The shower will start to run when no one is in there and the motion sensor light will come on in the middle of night when we aren’t in the enterway. We’ve tested the light. Jumping  and dancing next to it won’t trigger it, but walking by it at 2 am to go to the bathroom will. Goblins. 

Being a sucker for mythology and the fantastical I have of course been spending my time in Korea trying to learn about the mythology and folklore. Once such that I have discovered is Dokkaebi, or 도깨비.산수귀문전.jpg(Art like this adorns tiles of temples and other old important buildings. The dokkaebi is a guardian and protector as well as a trickster) 

This is the Korean Goblin. To be fair, I did not have to go far and out of my way to learn about it. This past fall the biggest hit K-Drama in the country was called Dokkaebi and was about …guess… yep, a dokkaebi!  It focused on an immortal goblin’s life and his bride who was to free him from it. It became a hit among my YAV family and we watched it ritually each week.


(A promo for the K- Drama. Dokkaebi is in the right…its a strange fellow. The man in black is a Grim Reaper) 

The Dokkaebi’s from folklore are a bit different from the show. The best way to think of them is a combination between a goblin and a troll. They are small Korean mischief makers, identifiable by their horns and club they carry.


(Super cute cartoon inspired by the drama)


Imbued with power, their clubs are used to make gold from thin air, and are often found in the forest at night, chanting, parting and creating piles of gold. Sometimes they stop travelers as challenge them to a wrestling match in order to pass. Other times people out smart them and take off with the gold.


Here is a folk story featuring a Dokkaebi that I found and wrote up. Enjoy the mischief.

The Woodcutter and The Dokkaebi

High and deep in the mountains there was an old house. With its thatched roof and windows battered shut against the wind, it stood empty and almost forgotten in the forest. No one had lived there for many years. Now and again the dokkaebi, small goblin creatures, would spend their time there, playing in the run down house and causing mischief.

One day, as it so happened, a young Woodcutter came upon the empty house and decided to move in with his Wife as it was bigger than their old house. Having little interest in sharing, the dokkaebi quickly packed their bags and left. All but one. A small baby dokkaebi remained. He had never seen humans before, only hearing of them in stories and was curious about them. So he hid himself away in a crack in the ceiling. There he could watch the Woodcutter and his Wife go about their day.

One night as the couple was sharing a meal together The Woodcutter said. “Everyday it grows colder out, winter must be coming.” Hearing this and making his voice match pitch and timber, the dokkaebi repeated “Everyday it grows colder out, winter must be coming.” Frightened to hear his own voice echoed back at him the Woodcutter shook in fear. Braver then her husband the wife called to the emptiness “Who is there?” The dokkaebi again matching pitch and timber repeated “Who is there?”

Now both the husband and wife were terribly frightened. Assuring themselves it was just the wind they searched the house for the hole from which is had come. They found the crack in the ceiling. Peering in the saw the baby dokkaebi rolling back and forth from laughing so hard. Startled they exclaimed “Why there is a Goblin living in our house.” Barely taking notice the Goblin repeated in exact likeness “Why there is a Goblin in the house.”

From that day forward the mischievous dokkaebi repeated whatever the husband and wife said. It began to sound as if four people lived there instead of two. The couple became annoyed and tried everything to make the creature leave. But threats and polite precaution had no effect on the goblin. Nothing they said could make him leave and abandoned his fun. Instead he took pleasure in their irritableness and continued to mimic them day and night.

Finally when the Woodcutter exhausted all attempts he asked a friend for help. The friend could hardly believe the incredible story about a dokkaebi living in the roof. Upon entering the house however and hearing his voice repeated back at him understood. He thought for sometime before he bade them outside and advised that they never speak in the room with the goblin.

Heeding this the couple began to communicate in the room only through glancing and knowing gestures. Anytime they needed to speak they would step outside. Inside they remained in silence, giving the dokkaebi nothing to repeat. At first the goblin was content to wait. Though, impatient as he was, he quickly became bored at the lack of fun. Before long it turned to irritation and he blurted out. “Why do you never say anything!” Hearing this the Woodcutter responded “Why do you never say anything!” This upset the goblin greatly. “Don’t do that.” He said. “Don’t do that.” The Woodcutter repeated.” Back forth this went, dokkaebi sulking aloud and the Woodcutter repeating.

Baffled that the tables had turned and losing all interest in the couple the dokkaebi finally came down from the roof. Grumbling under his breath he left the house, never to return, his view of humans tainted by the whole experience. The Woodcutter and his wife continued to live in peace and harmony in the small house, unhampered by other dokkaebi as they had been well warned to stay way.

The End –

And for a bit of last minute fun, here is a video  of my own dokkaebi experience on Jeju Island. There is a road tucked away where water and cars roll up hill. Legend is that the dokkaebi come out, invisible and push it up hill to scare the humans. Of course on our Study Trip we had to try it. Skeptical at first and a failed attempted at water we hopped in the car and well. See for yourself.





And We’ll Sing for the People whose Song’s Are Never Told

And We’ll Sing for the People whose Song’s Are Never Told


“So we’ll sing for the island, lost not to long ago,

And we’ll sing for the people, who are now set in stone,

And we’ll sing for the man who went and took another man’s soul.

We’ll sing for the people whose lives are bitter cold,

And we’ll sing for the people, whose song’s are never told,

And we’ll sing for our memories and may they never grow old.”

“Sing For The Island” by Joshua Burnell

“Sing For The Island” is a song from an album an old school acquaintance of mine released over the summer. If you like folk rock with a solid beat I highly recommend you give it a listen.

I have been struck by the beauty of the worlds. The simple meaning behind them. We must song for those who are lost and cannot sing for themselves,  and pray that those songs are not forgotten. A plea in a dark cold world, a song of hope that is older then this one song.

I was reminded of this song when I saw the most recent events in Appello, Syria. So many lives erased with a simple broad stroke, barely counting the many more that were lost in all the years due the violence that has been plaguing the land. People with stories that will never be told; more then  a number of dead from an event one history book. Should one or two individual stories be lifted up, they will only serve as a reminder of the many more forgotten.

Even then, most people will struggle to get beyond reading a Facebook headline and continue scrolling; giving little to no time to the suffering of humanity that they are surround by, and instead much more interested in Buzzfeed’s to answer their dying question “Are You Turning Into A Cat?”

(In case you are interested I am a cat…..this cat↓6a119be19f07f0fe0f4ae47a0f07f51b-16.jpg(https://www.buzzfeed.com/chelseamarshall/are-you-turning-into-a-cat?utm_term=.imwJ5wKRYJ#.xl4aPJ5DRa)






The pain and suffering of life has never grown old. It has never gone away, never been shoved to relics of the past.  It continues to live like always before.  It’s all around us, and usually hardly deemed severe enough to be headlines. That is the funny thing about humans, we are really only interested in suffering and pain of other people if it’s truly tragic and staggering.

img_1422(Memories of just a few of the victims of the 5.18 Democratization Movement of 1980. Only remembered by the grandmothers of the villiage.)

Clear cut example is mass shootings in the US. Most go unreported unless they reach reeling numbers. Did you know that since December 1st there have been 12 shootings? 45 people were injured and 10  people were killed? Yeah, neither did I. Pine Hills Florida, 12/11/16

Orlando Sentinel http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-man-killed-four-hurt-pine-hills-20161212-story.html

Gun Violence Archivehttp://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting

No one will tell the story of the man who comes to my soup kitchen, the name of a dance troupe written in gold on the back. Wearing it not because he was part of the troupe (maybe he was, I don’t speak enough Korean to ask) but because he could get the unwanted jacket for free. His song has already been forgotten whilst he still lives?

img_1053(Prayers for peace and an end to the Korean War – located at the last town in South Korea)

During my time in Korea I’ve been learning of her long and beautiful history. A history, that is, unfortunately filled with heartbreak and pain. Millions of songs that have become mostly forgotten; barley a number, if only  1 of many.

img_3153(Baek Nam-gi, 1 of many memories who will be remembered – An activist who died this year from injuries sustained a year ago in a protest.) 

Like any history, Korea’s is filled with moments of peace and moments of sorrow. Time for joy and celebration and time to mourn. Many of the more recent hurts can be traced to involvement of powerful nations, namely my own, the United States. Shortly after WWII and Japan’s Occupation of the peninsula ended, we continued to enforce much of the same oppression and tactics that had previously been used.

Simply, simply, just one more example of forgotten memories. Memories that I was never taught. Memories that I must now know, must hold, and sit with the discomfort of knowing.





Dark Lord Strategies For The Entrepreneurially Challenged: Chapter 2

Many eon’s ago there had been a great rift in time, a war between the forces of good and evil. It grew to the point that everyone was tired of the constant back and forth, so  the overlords, decided to quit. Quit isn’t quite the right word. They stopped fighting, not because they didn’t love a good battle for the fate of mankind, but because they were neglecting their own lands. Peasants growing rowdy from lack of rule were revolting. Minions, slaves and other servants were leaving and seeking more abusive and attentive masters. Overlords were waring with themselves over trivial matters and uncontrolled chaos  ensured throughout the country. It took the formulation of an Government, chosen by the various overlords to represent them to bring order to the chaos.

With rules and revelations established and firmly in place the country began to prosper. The citizen, comfortable again with the steady fear and terror settled back into their every day lives of peasantry and poor-dom. The overlords went back to wracking havoc in their domain and peacefully dwelling together (for the  most part. Small skirmish and duels would break out as is only expected from a homogenous group of evildoers living together within the borders of a single country).

The do gooders across the boarder were rather pleased with the development, glad to no longer be engaged in the exhausting mission of saving the world from all darkness. As it turned out, not everyone wanted the life of roses, sugar and walks in the parks. Some people drew joy out of causing terror in the hearts of all they came across, issuing vast orders of death and destruction on a daily basis, while others enjoyed living under the tyrannical, though well organized, rule of an overlord with a daily fear of their own demise. To these people, life had never been merrier.

Life continued as normal. Some overlords were memorable and some forgotten, but all kept to a common ethic. Inspire through fear. Griselda had been a formidable ruler, leaving terror and awe in her wake. Findelwort managed astonishment. His days were long, filled with endless rhetoric  from his stewed and advisor Nigel on all the ways he could better himself, and endless attempts to bolster himself into the role he was never meant to play.

Not for his lack of trying, the disarray of Findellwort’s Dark domain was seen in all aspects of his life. His minions wandered aimlessly through the fortress halls, remembering the days of before when they were constricted into service, ordered to wreck havoc and rewarded with plunder. Now their days were spent in endless backgammon matches and stagings of elaborate operas.

The Fortress was in disrepair itself, its once magnificent black walls crumbling. The roof leaked over the spare bedroom, the drawbridge was operating on a one chain bungee system, the dungeons were to dank for the rats.   Even his once friendly experiment gone wrong Steve had resorted to hiding under the bed and keeping Findellwort up from what little sleep he got.

Findellwort fumbled for his list, smearing the ink with his dirty hands. He crossed off Feed Steve and tossed the list onto a pile on his desk. With a heavy sigh he sat, his body slumping. It was only nine in the morning and the pile in front of him spoke of the horrors that awaited. Some of it was half drawn budgets for building repairs while others were outlandish plans cooked up by Nigel to enhance the Kingdom.  There was a status report including every small detail. It would need to be gone through, scrutinized for mistakes and improvement. Findellowrt tossed it aside. It could wait.

He turned his attention to the pile of mail carefully stacked to one side, no doubt left there by Nigel. He picked up the first envelope. It read; Deserted Valley Moat Care. An elaborate outline  of every reason any Dark Lord would chose Deserted Valley for all their moat care needs. Findellowrt set it aside. Reading through the rest of the mail, one envelope caught his attention, a garcacious purple envelope with a obnoxiously large seal displaying dragon devouring a small child stamped on the back. It was no doubt from the Coalition of Evil Advancement. 

Generally letters from the CEA meant one of few things. They were reminding members of the oblatory voting of new cabinet members, asking for money from the mandatory peasant taxation or they were following up on a citation or complaint of being to plaicent. Findellwort had no doubt that the latter was true. He had received several citations in the last year for failed attempts of evilness. Findellwort pulled out the neatly folded document:

Mr. Findellwrot The Agreeable,  Dark Lord of Grisholm,

It has come to the attention of Collation of Evil, Breueru of Internal affairs that the allotted time of three years since your inheritance of Grisholm without the proper insurance or notification of an heir of the estate is up. Given as the three years is almost passed, you are given a extended grace period to secure and formally recognize an heir, wether sired, kidnaped, bought or apprenticed (details unnecessary) to be successor to  all the estate both beholden to you now and further gained of Grisholm. If you fail to percure such an heir by the date of one month after the death of your predecessor then your will be considered void to any other then the legally appointed heir as seen fit by the CEA. Please feel free to contact us if you have any question.

Coalition of Evil Advancement

Broxworth the Woeful, Lord of Heapshire and the Black Sea

Dark Lord Strategies For The Entrepreneurially Challenged: Chapter 1

Evil Overlord tip #7 :

When I’ve captured my adversary and he says, “Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?” I’ll say, “No.” and shoot him. No, on second thought I’ll shoot him then say “No.”

Every successful person has a morning routine that sets them in the proper motion for a productive day. Some enjoy a hot cup of coffee on a peaceful veranda surrounded by nature and their own thoughts. Others carefully peruse through the morning paper, staying well informed of current events in order to become a better citizen, while some partake in a long gentle exercise to mentally prepare their bodies and mind for the forthcoming requirements of the day. The unsuccessful ones, the ones who barely crawl through life with everything intact take on a different sort of tactics. Some pour cold milk on the counter only to ponder whilst eating  their cornflakes of their peculiar dryness. Some blare controversial lyrical poems, upsetting elderly neighbors enjoying the songs and birds, and others sleep through several alarms to only wake screaming from their bed, inventible overslept, late for the onslaught ahead. This category of people was Findellwort. Even the half scribbled list on a leftover takeout menu clutched in his hand seemed a helpless grab at a day already beyond saving.

  • Don’t Forget
  • 1. Wash Dirty Laundry
  • 2. Find Dirty Laundry
  • 3. Check that it is Dirty Laundry
  • 4. Put Away Clean (not dirty) Laundry
  • 5. Divy Out Booty
  • 6. Send treats to local peasants
  • 7. Teach Lesson to small revolting village
  • 8. Minion Rex’s Birthday 🙂
  • 9. Feed Steve

wake up

Findellwort briefly considered his one successful task, written hastily as an after thought several hours after the fact.   Finding a moment of solace in his fare, he pocketed the list and reached into the bucket he carried with the other hand, pulling out a half rotted piece of meat.  He held the chunk out in front of him. “It’s breakfast time.” He called. A grunting responded. Findellowrt tossed the meat. It hit the floor with a squish. He gave it a small push with his barefoot, His shoes still missing from the pervious night, nudging it further on the bed. Hastily he withdrew his foot at the snarling and hissing as the meat was pulled into the shadows of his bed. Glad the unruly task was over Findellwort sighed. Steve was fed. His bedchamber was safe another day.

Perhaps it should be noted at this time that FIndellwort was not the most of ordinary people to be found. Or in this sense, he was the most of ordinary, with the most unordinary of jobs. Findellwort was a Dark Lord. Dark Lord of Grisholm, the tall and luminous fortress that perched upon Stede Peak. He ruled over the land below with an iron fist, dealing out his cruelty, without mercy, inflicting terror in his subjects so that he might further his dark domain. Or at least that was what the job description read. Findellwort had inherited the whole unfortunate business when his grandmother had died in a freak accident several years back involving a sheep and several angry villagers. Left without any other surviving heirs, misfortune being quiet common among the Dark Lord Family, Griselda was forced to leave all her domain to her rather well behaved and quite polite grandson Findellwort.

It was a mistake. Findellwort knew that the moment he signed the legal contract. Griselda should have given the position to any other person. The peasants who accidentally killed her could have done a better job running an evil kingdom then Findellwort. Since he took power, peace and prosperity had presided over the domain. Education abounded, the roads were safe for travel and crime dropped to an unnoticeable rate. The villagers had even started a May Day celebration! And no one was happy. In fact they resented him, many moving to other neighboring dark kingdoms grumbling that if they wanted to live with a benevolent ruler they wouldn’t have moved to Grisholm in the first place!

Findellwort was not fond of death. Or blood. or any kinda of violence in particular. His first act as Overlord had been to band the “unnecessary but obligatory deceptions of villagers to ensure evilness reigns” as states in the Dark Overlord Hand book Article 5 – Evil Tactics and When to Deploy Them. Findellwort was more fond of the more subtle methods, a tribunal made up of villages to discuss options of social community without penalizing and the continual advancement of Grisholm. It had taken several years to convince the villagers that “Dutiful Sacrifice of a Calf and Vestal Virgin to Ensure the Destruction Postponed” Article 10 – Duties of a Villager to Prevent the Inevitable End, was both an unnecessary waste of a good cow and young woman, as well as an unpleasant mess to deal with afterwards. The villagers were willing to let him slide on changes, but other requirements of were still expected. Findellwort spent many a long night orchestrating the annual burning of farms, kidnappings of strong children, enslavement of subjects and harassment of minions.