Korean Dragons

A commenter recently asked if I could publish more information about dragon lore from Korea. And as I was in the midst of research, what should come through but a post from Princess of Dragons! Although her post covered Asian Dragons in general, she did have a portion on Korean dragons.

With her kind permission, I’m reblogging the relevant section. Click here if you’d like to read her entire post.


Korean Lung (or Yong)

Less friendly than either the Chinese or the Japanese Lungs, Korean Lungs share the love of hot water of the Japanese, and will nest in hot springs or volcanic waters. They have also been known, if they find an appropriate pool, to heat it up themselves. This also helps with hatching their eggs, since a constant temperature of just boiling water is needed to incubate them properly.

They are very narrow, but longer than the Chinese Lung, reaching up to 50 feet in length at their largest. They have four claws on each foot, and a similar head shape to the Chinese, but no spines along their back and fewer tendrils on the face. Colours for these dragons are yellows and golds in a range of shades, with white manes.

Mainly their diet consists of small mammals, such as deer found in the country. They use their long bodies to strangle and constrict the prey, before swallowing it whole, much like a snake would. It is unknown whether they can disjoint their jaws. They also seem to have a strange dance-like pattern or coiling movement that they can use on prey, which has a hypnotic effects, making it easy for them then wrap their bodies around the prey.

Just For Fun 35

Here’s a cute meme that’s been going around:

“Look to your left. The first thing you see is what you would hoard as a dragon.”

I saw… a tropical plant. Some of you probably know that I like gardening, so this is actually totally realistic.

What about the rest of you, blogging friends? I’d love if you could share what your hoard item would be.

About a month ago, I mentioned that Spokane is hosting the Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival. I was longing to go, but money and schedules conspired against me. Fortunately, the festival was so successful that they extended it another two weeks. I was able to go last weekend with my husband, daughter, and some good friends.

So, how was it? A little pricey, I must admit, but it was also lovely and very cool, and I’m glad we found the time. In daytime the lanterns appeared almost too colorful, but when we went in the evening they had a beautiful glow. The weather was unusually warm for early November, and that made it a more pleasant experience.

There was a good variety of subject matter, including flowers, fish, insects, and animals, plus several large pagodas and similar structures. Some were arranged in arrays of lanterns, which carried quite a punch.

In addition to the lanterns, there was about a half-hour long stage show with folk dances, funny clowns and an acrobat. They had a small but amazing display of replicas from the famous tomb of terracotta warriors, plus a number of bronzes from different eras.

Previously I mentioned the big Asian dragon lantern, which was closer to 100 feet long than the 40 feet I had guessed. There were a few smaller dragons, too. Some of these were Western-style dragons, and some were more cartoonish/anime types. Curiously enough, they were displayed along with the dinosaurs.

If you’re interested, here’s a photo book, sponsored by a local TV station, showing almost all the lanterns.

Dragonball, Part 4

In the “Shadow Dragon Saga,” the final plot arc of the epic Dragonball series, the good dragon Shenron turns to the dark side. Dragonball has some philosophical groundings in Zen, which show clearly here. Every character has facets of good and evil. Several times, readers encounter characters who have split themselves into good and evil halves in order to reach a sort of enlightenment. However, the ‘evil selves’ always have their own goals and often become deadly villains.

In the same way, when heroes gather all the dragonballs and make their wishes, good and evil energies are created. Good energy goes into actually fulfilling the wish (assuming it is a benevolent one). Evil energy is contained within the dragonballs and released slowly over hundreds of years. This works all right in the era when the scattered dragonballs are nearly impossible to find, but advancing technology such as Bulma’s “radar” makes it relatively easy to gather them. As the dragonballs are used more and more often, the evil energy can’t be released. Eventually it builds to a critical mass.

When Goku makes his latest wish, an “evil half” of Shenron is created. Black Smoke Shenron seizes the dragonballs before they can disperse. He divides himself into seven Shadow Dragons, each connected to one of the dragonballs. Each of the Shadow Dragons has a distinct appearance, personality, and power set. The relative strength and malevolence of these dragons corresponds to the nobility and the scope of the original wishes. So the most comical dragons are linked to small or silly wishes, while the most vicious spring from wishes that revived many people or righted great wrongs.

The Shadow Dragons are, roughly from least to most powerful: Haze Shenron (pollution), Rage Shenron (stretching), Oceanus (water), Naturon Shenron (earth), Nuovo Shenron (fire), Eis Shenron (ice) and the most devious and cruel of all, Syn Shenron. Syn is a lethal martial artist whose goal is to destroy all life in the universe. He loves to taunt and torment his victims as much as he enjoys bloodying his hands.

In the closing chapters of the Shadow Dragon Saga, Syn devours the seven dragonballs and becomes Omega Shenron, whose awesome and terrifying power is capable of obliterating Earth itself. An array of heroes face Omega through many twists and turns. Both sides appear certain of victory at times, but finally Goku destroys Omega Shenron with a technique called Universal Spirit Bomb.

In the aftermath, the original Shenron returns. He heals the wounded and reverses all of the Shadow Dragons’ damage. Then Shenron tells the heroes he needs time to recover. He takes the dragonballs and disappears. Now the people of Earth must stop depending on him and begin to make better choices.

Dragonball, Part 3

Among the multitude of recurring characters in the Dragonball saga, three important ones are dragons. These are Shenron, Porunga, and Icarus.

Shenron is the magical dragon of Earth. When brave heroes gather all seven dragonballs, this is who they summon. Shenron is a classic Asian dragon — long and serpentine, with stag horns, flowing whiskers, and so on. His scales are bright green above, buff/gold beneath, and his eyes are scarlet. Like all Asian dragons, Shenron has a benevolent personality. However, he does have his pride and sometimes expresses scorn for humans who make selfish decisions. His home is in the fiery core of the Earth.

In granting wishes, Shenron shows kindness by fulfilling the intent of the wish without trying to twist or undermine it. He seems able to grant almost anything, such as eternal youth or the restoration of destroyed lands. In quite a few cases, the victims of various evildoers are restored to life by a wish. They return as they were, not as any form of undead.

Some of the adventures in Dragonball take place on the alien world of Namek, where Porunga is the wishing dragon. He shares Shenron’s green-and-gold coloring but is more naga-like, with a distinctly human torso giving way to a serpent’s tail. His head and shoulders bristle with spikes, while his features are more crocodilian than Shenron’s.

Despite his more fearsome appearance, Porunga is even more amiable than his Earth counterpart. Though sometimes impatient, he has a sense of humor and has been known to cast minor magic for friends even without a wish being spoken. Like Shenron, Porunga is generous in granting the full intent of wishes rather than their literal meanings.

Back on Earth, a third dragon appears later in the sagas of Dragonball. Icarus lives in the wilderness near Goku’s home. He first appears as a baby dragon and becomes friends with Goku’s young son, Gohan. The two grow up together and have many adventures.

Unlike the other dragons, Icarus is a Western-style dragon with wings. His scales are lavender above and buff underneath. He has very humanlike, blue eyes. In general, his appearance is chunky and cartoonish compared to the others. For instance, his wings are tiny, though still capable of sustaining flight. Ultimately it seems the creator ran out of things for this character to do. He quietly drops out of the series, and fans speculate he returned to his forest home at some point.

Are these all the dragons in Dragonball? Not quite! Check back on Saturday for the darker side of the saga.

Dragonball, Part 2

We’re talking about Dragonball, a Japanese series that started as manga in 1984 and continues in animated form up to today. Those who have only heard the name may be wondering what, exactly, is a dragonball? Is that a sport? Perhaps a dance event for dragons.

Dragonballs are legendary artifacts that have been hidden all over the world. They were created by Kami (“God”) to reward the most worthy warriors and explorers. Each set includes seven balls. Whoever collects them all, from wherever they are hidden, can use them to summon a dragon who will grant one wish. After that, the balls become inert for at least one year and are again magically scattered until another worthy hero seeks them out.

The dragonballs appear as round orange stones, crystal or glass, about the size of a softball. Each has a number of red stars within it, denoting its place in the set. They shine with a soft light. Because they are relatively small, the dragonballs had traditionally been difficult to locate. However, one of Goku’s first companions as the series begins is Bulma, a young genius who has created a device to detect dragonballs. This “radar” allows her and Goku a big head start as they compete with evil forces who are also trying to gather the dragonballs.

Next time, I’ll talk about Shenron, the mystical dragon who is summoned by the dragonballs.


Dragonball is one of the great epics of Twentieth Century manga and anime. Creator Akira Toriyama published the first series in 1984, in the pages of Shonen Jump. He continued producing installments until 1995. The combination of crazy humor with martial-arts adventure and operatic drama was immediately successful. Animated series based on the manga began to appear in 1986. There were also various video games and movies, some of which merely repackaged animated episodes.

At the outset, the main character was Son Goku, a young boy with a monkey tail and a cloud to fly on. He was based on Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, a character out of Chinese legend, but Toriyama was never one to stick with the tried and true. After many travails it was revealed that Goku actually was an alien of the Saiyan race. He had been dispatched to destroy the Earth, but lost his memory and grew up among a loving human family. Innocent and fun-loving, Goku loves competition and always seeks out more powerful opponents. As the years go by, we see him mature into the patriarch of a warrior clan who battle for the greater good on Earth and beyond.

With the manga spanning more than a decade, you can imagine the many epic heroes and villains who tread those pages. Important plot arcs are identified as “sagas,” some of which merge into overlapping “mega-sagas.” There’s no way I could describe them all here, but if you want you can check out the Wiki.

But wasn’t there something about dragons? You betcha! Check back on Saturday to learn more about them.


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