Jeju, Land Of Goddess
Jeju Island is a land of myths. The island is inhabited by 18,000 gods and goddesses and is full of myths about them. The gods have been deeply involved in all aspects of the lives of the Jeju people.
The myths about them reflect the perception of life of the people of Jeju Island. The gods and goddesses of Jeju are quite different from their counterparts in other areas. As illustrated in the story of their birth and life, the people of Jeju do not regard the gods as estranged beings from human beings.
The gods in Jeju are not gods from birth. Most of them were born as frail human beings and were deified after a long, hard life. Other gods sprang up from the earth, the source of life and livelihood for the Jeju people. As a result, the gods shared the living places with people, which accounts for the lack of pictures describing the mystic aspects of these gods.
There are many goddesses on Jeju Island. They play a major role in the life of Jeju people and resemble their human counterparts who are strong and independent.
The Old Woman Seolmundae, a goddess of creation, created Jeju Island, including Mt. Halla and over 360 oreums or secondary volcanic cones. The Old Woman Samseung in Samseung Hallmang Bonpuri is in charge of pregnancy and birth, and the Old Woman Gusamseung is in charge of death. Jacheongbi or Old Woman Sekyoung in Sekyoung Bonpuri governs agriculture, Madam Yeosan in Munjeon Bonpuri, (also called Old Woman Jowang) governs kitchens, and the daughter of Noiljeodaegwiil manages bathrooms. Yet others include Ilreto and Yeodeureto, the goddesses of medication, Baekjuto, a propagator of agriculture, and Old Woman Youngdeung, a goddess of wind and the sea who watches over the safety of fishermen and seaweed. The three princesses in the Samseong (the three demi-gods) Myth, who brought grain seeds and livestock to Jeju with them and married the three founders of Jeju Island, are also goddesses.
In addition to those goddesses mentioned above, numerous goddesses are believed to exist. Therefore, Jeju is deservedly known as a land of goddesses.
The names of Jeju goddesses such as 'Jacheongbi', 'Baekjuto' and 'Gameunjang-Agi' are original and indicate self-sufficiency. Goddesses who are named somebody`s wife are those who have jumped onto the bandwagon whereas goddesses with the name as somebody`s daughter are those who are faithful to their instincts.
The life of Jeju goddesses is a symbol of the life of Jeju women and indeed the very life pursued by humans. Therefore, we can feel comfortable and neighborly around the Jeju goddesses.