[KS] New Goddesses on Mt. Paektu: Transformation, Myth and Gender in Korean Landscape

Victoria Ten yoneun at gmail.com
Mon Jan 4 09:48:27 EST 2021

 Dear Colleagues,

I would like to announce to the academic community the publication of my
book titled* New Goddesses on Mt. Paektu: Transformation, Myth and Gender
in Korean Landscape*, co-authored with Robert Winstanley-Chesters. The book
is available for free at the following link:


Mountain worship has always been one of the central features of Korean
cultural landscape. While specific traditions of mountain culture have been
utilized by North Korea’s leadership for the purpose of promotion of the
state ideology, in South Korea mountain culture has acquired different
forms. We argue that contemporary South Korean *ki suryŏn* (氣 修練) practices
for perfection of mind and body constitute such manifestation of
mountain-related culture. The ancient tradition of mountain gods (山神,
*sanshin*) is a source from which the legendary figures of New Goddesses on
Mt. Paektu emerge. We study origination and development of Paektu-related
myths of South and North Korea, focusing on two divinities. The first
goddess is Ch’ŏnsŏnnyŏ (天仙女, the Woman of Heaven) from the contemporary
legend of GiCheon (氣天, *Kich’ŏn*), one of the *ki suryŏn* training methods.
Our second goddess is Kim Chŏng-suk, the first wife of Kim Il-sŏng, founder
of North Korea. In order to study simultaneous processes of origination and
development of Mt. Paektu-related myths of South and North Korea, we
consider sources from different fields of knowledge, such as folklore, art,
philosophy and religion, politics, literary criticism, political science
and environmental science. We apply an interdisciplinary approach to two
seemingly incompatible processes of mythmaking of contemporary South and
North Korea. The two countries, divided geographically, politically,
economically, have for many centuries been one nation and one people, one
language and one culture. This commonality has not disappeared into the
depth of history, but comes to the cultural surface even in this most
difficult contemporary time.

Victoria Ten (Jeon Yeonhwa)
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