The Legend of Dan-gun Wanggeom

단군왕검, 檀君王儉

Samguk Yusa: Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea (Pages 17 to 19)
Written by 일연 (一然) (iryeon), translated by Ha Tae-hung and Grafton K. Mintz

In the old book it is written that in ancient times the heavenly king 환인 (桓因) (hwanin) had a young son whose name was Hwanung . The boy wished to descend from heaven and live in the human world. His father, after examining three great mountains, chose 태백산 (太白山) (taebaeksan) as a suitable place for his heavenly son to bring happiness to human beings. He gave Hwanung three heavenly treasures, and commanded him to rule over his people.

With three thousand of his loyal subjects Hwanung descended from heaven and appeared under a sandalwood tree on Taebaeksan. He named the place 신시 (神市) (sinsi) and assumed the title of Hwanung Cheonwang, also meaning heavenly king. He led his ministers of wind, rain and clouds in teaching the people more than three-hundred and sixty useful arts, including agriculture and medicine, inculcated moral principles and imposed a code of law.

In those days there lived a bear and a tiger. They asked of Hwanung to be blessed with incarnation as human beings. The king took pity on them and gave them each a bunch of mugwort and twenty cloves of garlic, saying “If you eat this sacred food and do not see the sunlight for one hundred days, you will become human beings.”.

The bear and the tiger took the food and ate it, and retired into a cave. After twenty-one days the bear, who had faithfully observed the king’s instructions, became a woman. But the tiger, who had disobeyed, remained in its original form.

But the woman could find no husband, so she prayed under the sandalwood tree to be blessed with a child. Hwanung heard her prayers and married her. She conceived and bore a son who was called Dan-gun Wanggeom, the King of Sandalwood.

In the fiftieth year of the reign of Yao, Dan-gun went to Pyeongyang, set up his royal residence there and bestowed the name Joseon upon his kingdom.

Later Dan-gun moved his capital to Asadal on Taebaeksan and ruled 1500 years. Dan-gun became a mountain god at the age of 1,908.

Korean Date

The date today is,

4350 년 8 월 4 일 (4350, Month 8 Day 4) (24 September 2017 CE)

This is the date according to the traditional lunisolar calendar of Korea. (Note that this is not an authoritative calculation; I’m still working on the details.) The years count back to the legendary founding of Korea by 단군 왕검 (Dan-gun Wanggeom).