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Dokkaebi is a grotesque-looking sprite or goblin in Korean folklore or fairy tales


Description

Dokkaebi are described as the transformed spirits of inanimate objects. The most common objects said to become Dokkaebi are usually useful everyday implements that have been abandoned by their owners or left in perpetual disuse, and include such wide-ranging objects as brooms, fireplace pokers, pestles, flails, and sometimes even trees smeared with maiden's blood.


Behavior

These creatures are said to love mischief and playing mean tricks on bad people whereas they reward good people with wealth and blessings. Different versions of the Korean Dokkaebi mythology assign different attributes to them. In some cases they are considered harmless but nevertheless mischievous, usually playing pranks on people or challenging wayward travellers for a ssireum (Korean wrestling) match for the right of passage.

Most Dokkaebi to carry a kind of club or mallet called a dokkaebi bangmang'i. They are like magic wands, from which you can summon anything you want. Unfortunately, when you get something by using it, you get things by "stealing" from someone else, because this bangmang'i can only summon existing things, and it doesn't create objects out of thin air.

Dokkaebi love to play games, especially ssireum as mentioned above. They are extremely good at it and one will never be able to beat them by trying to push them from the left side. However, they are very weak on the right side. In other stories one should hook their leg and push them to win, as they have only one leg.

Dokkaebi can also have a cap which is called dokkaebi gamtu. Its most well-known ability is that it gives the wearer invisibility.


Legends

Most Korean legends have Dokkaebi in the stories. They are about Dokkaebi pranking on mortals or punishing them because of their evil deeds. One of them is about an old an who lived alone in a mountain when a Dokkaebi visited his house. With surprise, the kind old man gave the Dokkaebi an alcoholic beverage and they become friends. The Dokkaebi visited the old man often and they had long conversations together, but one day, the man took a walk by himself in the woods near the river and discovered that his reflection looked like the Dokkaebi. With fear, he realized that he was gradually becoming that creature. The man made a plan to prevent himself from becoming a Dokkaebi and invited the creature to his house. He asked, "What are you most afraid of?" and the Dokkaebi answered, "I'm afraid of blood. What are you afraid of?". The man pretended to be frightened and said, "I'm afraid of money. That's why I live in the mountains by myself." The next day, the old man killed a cow and poured its blood all over his house. The Dokkaebi, with shock and great anger, ran away and said, "I'll be back with your greatest fear!" The next day, the Dokkaebi brought bags of money and threw it to the old man. After that, Dokkaebi never came back and the old man became the richest person in the town.