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KOREAN ENTRY 4: GAKSI DOKKAEBI


“What a better place to observer them. Humans are as much fun as they are stupid”. What better place for a Dokkaebi to hide amongst humans? Dokkaebi (도깨비) often described as “Korean goblin” , are nature spirits who who have incredible powers which they use to either aid or play tricks on humans. They are often born from possession of inanimate objects and often take on fearsome appearances depending on the variation (the pointed teeth and ogre like visage being very common) usually accompanied by a tall blue flame known as dokkaebi fire and carry a club called dokkaebi bangmangi (도깨비 방망이). Despite their generally impressive appearance, dokkaebi are overall good natured and are mischievous at worst (with a few exceptions). They are very skilled in traditional Korean wrestling and often challenge humans to matches out of the blue. They are also depicted defending humans against evil spirits, bringing wealth and good harvest, and even punishing evil deeds. Dokkaebi come in an array of forms and variations, some with one leg, others with one eye and others taking human form. This variation is known as Gaksi dokkaebi (각시도깨비) or “maiden dokkaebi” known to attract humans with their beauty. I wanted to design a beautiful character but keep some of the more goblin like attributes. In this case, her club is disguised as a pipe with her goblin fire coming out of it. Since this is a maiden dokkaebi, I figured it would be interesting to see her navigate the world of gisaeng to observe human behavior. What is she looking for among the humans? We don’t know.

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