Korean Traditional Monster (1): Imoogi

 

Imoogi is a traditional Korean monster which resembles a giant snake and has the potential to ascend to heaven and become a Dragon. According to the legend, to accomplish this, the creature has to spend a thousand years honing its supernatural powers, and there is a high chance of failure. It must not be seen by humans while honing its powers and ascending. It also has to avoid a rival Imoogi.

If an Imoogi fails to ascend and become a Dragon, it becomes a malicious monster, and causes harm to humans as well as other animals out of anger.

In ancient times, Koreans believed that waterspout is an Imoogi’s way to hide its presence while ascending to become a dragon.

A fantasy novel Prophecy by Ellen Oh includes a description of the creature:

It was taller than the highest trees and as black as the darkest ink, spiraling over the water with undulating coils [and] when it roared, its huge fangs gleamed in the sunlight” (p. 29).

An Imoogi rarely, if ever, appears in North American fantasy novels. Prophecy is an exception because it is specifically set in a Korean Kingdom and written in English.

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