The Origin of Korea - The Birth of a Nation - MANNAM Korean Culture
Korean history spans over 5000 years. Hwan Woong Myth
The maintenance of their culture and language throughout this span of time is remarkable considering the many hostile occupations and invasions they have experienced over time which could account for the incredible sense of patriotism and nationalism that is plainly evident all over Korea.
Korean myth maintains that Korea was born when Hwan Woong - a demigod, came to earth and ended up on Taebak Mountain, in what is now Gangwon-do Province, South Korea. A tiger and a bear living in a cave expressed a desire to become human. Tangun told them that if they ate twenty cloves of garlic and didn’t see the sun for 100 days they would become human. After 21 days the bear became a woman, but the tiger couldn’t stand being inside all the time and thus failed the test. The woman couldn’t find anyone to procreate with, so the divinity Hwan Woong, out of the goodness of his own heart, temporarily transformed himself into a man and got her pregnant- thus the Korean race was born.
Perhaps this explains the latter day prevalence of garlic in Korean cooking - it is sold by the kilogram in Korean markets and is added liberally to virtually everything, both in its raw and cooked form. What does this say about the role and characteristics of men and women in Korean society... a point for discussion over some Korean barbeque...
Korea is one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries on earth. Eighty percent of the population has the surname Kim, Lee or Park, and there are remarkably few physical or cultural differences among ethnic Koreans.
Tribes from Central Asia probably migrated to the Korean peninsula between 5000 and 1000 BC and assimilated with local tribes, accounting for why Koreans are more physically similar to Mongolians than they are to their Chinese neighbors. South Korea is one of the few countries in the world that does not have a visible ethnic or cultural minority group within the country.
The only ethnic minority in Korea are approximately 50,000 Chinese who took refuge in Korea after the Communist takeover of China in 1949. Most of these Chinese immigrants were from the Shandong province of China, which explains why most Chinese restaurants in Korea serve dishes from the Shandong province- including ja jang myun (noodles with black sauce) and jam-pong (spicy soup.) Amazingly, even though Korea borders China and was a Chinese vassal state, none of Korea’s cities have a Chinatown in the western sense- a testament to the close knit nature of Korean society and solidarity against outsiders. The closest resemblance to a Chinatown in Korea is in the city of Incheon.