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Kumiho: The Mythical Nine-Tailed Fox

Kumiho, also known as the nine-tailed fox, is a creature from Korean mythology that has captured the imagination of people for centuries. It is said to be a shape-shifting creature that can turn into a beautiful woman and seduce men. However, the kumiho is also known to be a malevolent creature that preys on humans, often killing them in the process.

In Korean folklore, the kumiho is often depicted as a cunning and deceitful creature that uses its powers to manipulate and control humans. It is said to have the ability to create illusions and cast spells, making it a formidable adversary. Despite its malevolent nature, the kumiho has also been portrayed as a tragic figure, cursed by fate to live a life of loneliness and despair.

While the kumiho is primarily associated with Korean mythology, similar creatures can be found in other cultures across East Asia. The Chinese have the huli jing, while the Japanese have the kitsune. Each of these creatures has its own unique characteristics and abilities, but they all share a common theme of shape-shifting and deception.

Origin and Mythology

Korean Folklore

Kumiho, also known as Gumiho, is a mythical creature that appears in Korean folklore. It is depicted as a nine-tailed fox that possesses the ability to shape-shift into a beautiful woman or a young girl. The fox is believed to have a deep connection with the moon and is said to be able to control it. According to Korean mythology, Kumiho is a powerful and dangerous creature that can bring both good and bad luck to humans.

Historical References

Historical references to Kumiho can be found in various texts, including the Samguk Sagi, a historical record of the Three Kingdoms period in Korea. In this text, Kumiho is described as a creature that can transform into a beautiful woman to seduce and kill men. The creature is also mentioned in the Goryeo-sa, a historical record of the Goryeo Dynasty, where it is said to have the ability to control the weather and bring about natural disasters.

In addition to these historical texts, Kumiho has also been referenced in modern Korean media, including television shows and movies. The creature remains a popular figure in Korean mythology and continues to captivate audiences with its mysterious and powerful nature.

Overall, Kumiho is a fascinating creature that has captured the imaginations of Koreans for centuries. Its unique abilities and connection to the moon make it a powerful symbol in Korean mythology, and its presence in historical texts and modern media attest to its enduring popularity.

Characteristics of the Kumiho

Physical Appearance

The Kumiho is a mythical creature that is known for its shape-shifting abilities. In its true form, it is a nine-tailed fox that is larger than a normal fox. The Kumiho has a sleek, red coat and is often depicted with piercing, intelligent eyes. Its nine tails are a symbol of its power and wisdom. When it transforms into a human, it takes on the appearance of a beautiful woman, often with fox-like features such as pointed ears and sharp teeth.

Powers and Abilities

The Kumiho is known for its supernatural powers, which include shape-shifting, illusion-casting, and possession. It is said to be able to control the elements and manipulate the minds of humans. The Kumiho is also known for its ability to heal quickly and for its heightened senses, particularly its sense of smell. In some legends, the Kumiho is said to be able to fly or teleport, and it is often associated with fire and lightning.

In conclusion, the Kumiho is a fascinating and complex creature with a rich history in East Asian folklore. Its physical appearance and powers have captured the imaginations of people for centuries, and it continues to be a popular subject in literature, film, and television today.

Cultural Impact


Kumiho’s appearance in Korean literature dates back to the Goryeo period. In the famous novel “The Tale of Hong Gildong,” the protagonist encounters a Kumiho who tries to seduce him. The Kumiho is also a common character in many Korean folktales and legends. In many of these stories, the Kumiho is portrayed as a cunning and dangerous creature, often preying on humans.

Film and Television

The Kumiho has made appearances in various Korean films and television shows. One of the most famous examples is the 2004 horror film “The Tale of Two Sisters,” which features a Kumiho as the main antagonist. Kumiho has also appeared in popular Korean dramas such as “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” and “Goblin: The Lonely and Great God.” In these shows, the Kumiho is often portrayed as a beautiful and seductive woman who falls in love with a human.

Music and Performing Arts

Kumiho has also inspired various forms of music and performing arts in Korea. The Kumiho has been featured in traditional Korean dance performances, such as the “Cheoyongmu” dance, where a dancer wears a Kumiho mask. Kumiho has also been referenced in many K-Pop songs, such as the song “Gumiho” by the girl group EXID. In the song, the Kumiho is portrayed as a powerful and alluring creature.

Overall, Kumiho has had a significant impact on Korean culture and has become an important part of Korean folklore and mythology. The Kumiho’s appearance in literature, film, television, and performing arts has helped to keep the legend alive and has introduced the Kumiho to new audiences around the world.

Comparative Mythology

Similar Creatures in Asia

Kumiho is a creature that appears in Korean folklore and legends. It is similar to other fox spirits found in other Asian cultures, such as the Chinese huli jing, the Japanese kitsune, and the Vietnamese hồ ly tinh. These creatures are often depicted as shapeshifters that can take on human form and are associated with trickery and mischief. However, in some cultures, they are also revered as divine beings or protectors of the natural world.

Fox Spirits in Global Folklore

Fox spirits are not unique to Asia, and similar creatures can be found in folklore from around the world. In European folklore, for example, the fox is often associated with cunning and trickery, and fox spirits are sometimes depicted as mischievous or malevolent beings. In Native American folklore, the fox is often associated with wisdom and is sometimes depicted as a trickster figure. In African folklore, fox spirits are sometimes associated with witchcraft and are believed to be able to shape-shift into human form.

Despite the differences in how fox spirits are depicted in different cultures, there are also many similarities. In many cultures, fox spirits are associated with the natural world and are believed to have supernatural powers. They are often depicted as shapeshifters that can take on human form, and they are often associated with trickery and mischief. Overall, the fox spirit is a fascinating figure that has captured the imaginations of people around the world for centuries.

Modern Interpretations

Contemporary Literature

In modern literature, Kumiho has been featured in various forms, including novels, graphic novels, and short stories. Many of these works draw inspiration from the traditional Korean folklore, but they also incorporate new and unique elements. Some of the most popular books that feature Kumiho include “The Fox Sister” by Christina Strain and “Wicked Fox” by Kat Cho.

Pop Culture and Media

Kumiho has also become a popular figure in pop culture and media. The creature has been featured in several Korean dramas, including “My Roommate is a Gumiho” and “Tail of the Nine-Tailed.” In these shows, Kumiho is portrayed as a beautiful and seductive creature that has the power to shape-shift into a human form. Additionally, Kumiho has also been featured in various video games, such as “League of Legends” and “Blade & Soul.”

Overall, Kumiho has become a beloved figure in modern culture, with many people fascinated by the creature’s beauty and power. Whether in literature, film, or video games, Kumiho continues to captivate audiences with its unique and intriguing mythology.