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Korean Entry 6: Ungnyeo


I must hide my shame. For who would love a brutish woman like me? Before Buddhism becamw a major religion in Korea, they had their own folk traditions and legends. One such legend was the Ungnyeo(웅녀) or bear woman from the Korean creationism story. A tiger and a bear prayed to the heavens to become human and eventually the Gods gave them a task. They were told to stay out of sunlight and eat only garlic and mugwort for 100 days. The tiger failed and left the challenge, so the on the 21st day the bear won and was transformed into the first woman. Her lack of husband eventually drove her to depression however and caused her to pray to the Gods for a child. The God Hwanung was moved by her prayers and took her in as bride. In the original story, the bear woman complrtely transforms into a human, but I thought it would be interesting to design a half human-half bear woman, almost as if the transformation were incomplete. I wanted to make her physically very muscular. I felt that as a bear, her human parts would display her strength. This muscular figure would be the cause of major insecurities for her, as this is the exact opposite of the beaty standard. Like most supernatural animals, she would eventually gain the ability to shapeshift. She would use these abilities as to make herself not only look fully human, but also make herself as thin as possible. This would be an alternate story line of the Ugnyeong, had the arrangement with Hwanung not gone as planned. After all these gernerations, what caused her to reveal herself?

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