In today's episode, we discuss Princess Bari from Korean mythology. We discuss filial piety, conceptions of the heavens and underworld, and ending cycles of suffering.
For more information about today's episode, go to mytholadies.com.
To donate, please go to ko-fi.com/mytholadies.
Our cover art is by Helena Cailleaux. You can find her and more of her work on Instagram @helena.cailleaux.illustratrice. Our theme song was composed and performed by Icarus Tyree. To hear more of their music, check out icarust.bandcamp.com.
Lizzie: Hello, and welcome to Mytholadies, a podcast where we talk about women from mythology and folklore all over the world. We're your hosts.
Zoe: I'm Zoe.
Lizzie: and I'm Lizzie. And how are you today, Zoe?
Zoe: I'm alright. It is finals week. And so that's exciting. I have a Russian exam tomorrow. And that's pretty much my only final left, because everything else was projects, and it's gonna be fine. Because it's open. No, and I'm not too stressed about it. But I'd like it to be over because I'm tired of having to do school things at this point in the semester.
Lizzie: Yeah, you're just sick of it at some point.
Zoe: Yeah. And it's also like, because it's the only thing I have to do at this point, is just take the exam. And it's been like, three days since I've had any academic stuff going on. Because, you know, it was the weekend and now it's, and it's not till Tuesday. So it's like, kind of annoying. But like, I'm making it. I'll get there eventually. I've been studying a lot. I have my note sheet and everything and it'll be fine. Like,I'm good.
Lizzie: That's great. And you had a birthday, right since we left.
Zoe: Oh, yes,I did have a birthday. I'm 21. I am—
Lizzie: Woo, so exciting.
Zoe: That was exciting. I had a good birthday. My mom sent me a cake and some flowers. So that was really fun. And my friends. I have a friend who made me fun drawing for my birthday. So that was really exciting.
Lizzie: It was really fun, I saw the drawing.
Zoe: Yes. Yes. When I saw it, I like couldn't speak for like five minutes because I was like laughing so hard. And then someone else in like the dorm hallway had came out because she thought I was crying. Because I was just like hyperventilating. It was really good.
Lizzie: And it was Tommy Shelby from Peaky Blinders speaking German.
Zoe: It was Tommy Shelby. Yeah, from Peaky Blinders speaking German because the friends who made it also speaks German. And sometimes we speak German together. So that was fun.
Lizzie: That's awesome.
Zoe: Yeah, yeah.
Lizzie: And this, today's episode is gonna be the first episode of 2022.
Zoe: Yes, it is. Oh, my gosh. Isn't that wild?
Lizzie: It's very fun. So this is going to be our—
Lizzie: Technically the third year, like year, year
Zoe: year, but second, like—
Zoe: —whole year.
Lizzie: yeah. Yeah.
Zoe: yeah. Um, and even though it's our um it's the first episode of the area where it's not a themed episode, because that didn't work out for what we needed to do, but you'll get a themed episode next week. So everything's gonna be fine.
Zoe: I know everyone's chanting for an episode, a themed episode, but just have to wait one or two weeks longer.
Lizzie: Yeah, two weeks, I guess.
Zoe: Two weeks longer. But we'll get we'll get it to you. It'll be their promise.
Zoe: Yeah. So let's see. How are you?
Lizzie: I'm awesome. I um my sister got engaged.
Zoe: Oh, my goodness!
Lizzie: And I'm so excited about it.
Lizzie: And so shout out to Emily and Chris. And I will force her to listen to this.
Zoe: Yay. Congratulations Emily and Chris.
Lizzie: Yeah, very, very exciting in my life. And I have no idea when the wedding is happening, but I'm super happy.
Zoe: Yeah I think that's how engagements go.
Lizzie: Yeah, I have no idea. Like, at what point do you start like being like, Oh, wait, we should start start planning for the wedding. I don't know.
Zoe: I don't know. Oh, on The Bachelor, they just get engaged. Like don't do anything for a really long time. And then they're like, Oh, we broke up. And I'm like, oh, but what about love? What about finding love?
Lizzie: as a Bachelor aficionado, have any Bachelor couples actually survived? More than like a few years.
Zoe: yeah, some of them like the first bachelor couple are still together. Like ever. And then there are a few other couples. Then there's a few couples that the bachelor like didn't end up with the person that he chose at the end, but ended up with someone else who was on a season. And then the same with The Bachelorette as well. There's a few more successful Bachelorette stories than Bachelor stories. And but overall, a lot of them break up.
Lizzie: And that's not a shock to me.
Zoe: it doesn't work out. Anyway, on my mind, because the Bachelorette Season 18 season finale is next week, so we're gonna find out who Michelle chooses to be her soulmate.
Lizzie: I'm so happy for you.
Zoe: Thank you.
Lizzie: As the only person I know who watches the Bachelorette.
Zoe: Yeah, yeah.
Lizzie: And speaking of my sister's wedding, I texted her asking if I could wear a suit to her wedding. And she said yes. And that's all I know about the wedding so far.
Zoe: Oh my gosh, that's gonna be so fun. You're gonna look so good.
Lizzie: Yeah, I'm really excited about potential suits I'm gonna buy Yeah. So, mythology,
Lizzie: So who we're talking about today?
Zoe: Yeah. So today I'm actually pretty excited about this. Because I realized when I was doing figuring out who I wanted to research we hadn't done a Korean lady yet, like at all. I don't think even in any of our themed episodes, so I decided I wanted to do a Korean woman. So today we're going to be talking about Princess Bari, who is a significant figure in Korean Shamanism.
Zoe: So, yeah, so quick, just quickly a brief overview of Korean Shamanism, because I didn't know a lot about it. I still don't know a lot about it, but just a basic overview. So the main it's so the main folk religion of the Korean Peninsula is known as Korean Shamanism, or Muism, and it's an animistic religion that consists of God, nature, spirit and ancestor worship. And the key figure in the community is the shaman or mu and they are considered chosen persons and responsible for serving as an intermediary between spirits and gods and humanity. And so one of their main tasks is to oversee gut rituals, which are rituals often involving sacrifices, rhythmic movements, songs, oracles, and prayers. And Muism has been influenced by many other religions including Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. And it has in turn influenced other new religions such as Cheondoism and Jeungsanism, which are both really newer religions in the Korean Peninsula. And it's also similar to Chinese Shamanism. So onto our lady. Again, Princess Bari is a significant figure in this mythology. There are a ton of different variations of our story found throughout the Korean Peninsula, with the exception of Jeju, which is an island off the coast of South Korea that tends to have a more varied mythology than the rest of the peninsula. Um, as an armchair folklorist, probably my guess is that it's because it's an island so there's just less cultural interchange since it's more isolated. But I don't know, I'm sure people who know way more than me, I've studied that more. There's over 100 Different versions that have been recorded as of 2016. And that's just versions that have been written down. So there's probably like way more that just haven't been written down, and more that might be developed in the future. So that's really cool. And most versions of the story are performed during, quote, rituals dedicated to the dead. So she is heavily associated with the dead and funerary rites. And it's also considered to be one of the myths about the origins of Korean shamanism. So, the general version of the myth is as follows. There is a king and a queen who get married, and the Queen gives birth to six daughters who are all treated well at the palace, you know, treated like princesses. And then the Queen becomes pregnant again and she begins to have prophetic dreams. So she and her husband assume this means that she will finally bear a son and they begin to prepare for his arrival. However, when the child is born, it turns out to be a girl. Disappointed by this, the king orders her to be thrown away and names her Bari, which is taken from the Korean word beori, which means to throw away.
Lizzie: That's a very mean name.
Zoe: It is a very mean name. The legends differ at the moment of her abandonment. So in some stories, she is abandoned multiple times as each time she is protected by different animals. But after she is finally abandoned, she's rescued by a helper. Sometimes it's the Buddha, sometimes it's a mountain god, sometimes it's a stork. Sometimes it's other things. But regardless, this helper generally raises her into adulthood. So once Bari grows up, one or both of her parents fall ill, when they look for a cure to this illness, they find out that the disease can only be cured through the medicinal waters of the Western Heaven. So the king and queen ask each of their six daughters to fetch the water for them, but all six of them refuse. So, well, in some stories also, the disease is a direct punishment for casting out princes pottery, who is a divine gift from Heaven, and they must find their last daughter. But in any case, all of the other daughters refuse or if they actually are experiencing divine punishment, they have to find her, and they send for Princess Bari, and she returns to the palace. And once she returns, she agrees to go to the Western Heaven, and in many stories, she leaves the palace disguised as a man and begins her quest.
Lizzie: That's really fun. I love cross dressing. In- in myths.
Zoe: It's really, yeah, it's a really interesting detail. Actually. I don't know. I feel like we don't see it as much in myths in general.
Lizzie: True. Yeah. It's more of a folktale, legend, saga.
Zoe: Yeah. Or Shakespeare play.
Lizzie: Yeah. Are you referring to Twelfth Night?
Zoe: Well, there's a lot of Shakespeare plays with cross dressing.
Lizzie: I don't— not that much of an expert
Zoe: Well neither am I, but yes,
Lizzie: I mean, you know, more than I do.
Zoe: Well, I did just have my exam on theater history so I can talk about how cross dressing was a big theme of the Baroque era in plays exploring the question of identity and illusion, but we don't need that right now.
Lizzie: That sounds really fun though not relevant to our current topic. But I'd love to hear more about it later.
Zoe: Anyways, so the details of the quests vary a lot depending on the region, the storyteller, which to me makes a ton of sense. I feel like quest narratives where it's very episodic allows for a ton of variation.
Lizzie: Quests are really fun.
Zoe: Yeah, I love it's like they meet this person, and then they meet this person and they have this challenge, you know. But in one of the oldest known versions, she meets the Buddha after going through 1000 leagues. He is not fooled by her disguise and figures out that she's a woman and asked her if she is truly willing or able to go another 3000 leagues. She responds that she is and will keep going, even if it means she will die.
Lizzie: Wow. Okay.
Zoe: And as a reward for her answer, he gives her a silk flower that turns the ocean in front of her into land for her to cross.
Zoe: Yeah. At some point, she also liberates hundreds of millions of imprisoned dead souls.
Lizzie: Oh, wow.
Zoe: So yeah, that's cool. I couldn't find more details about that, then that had happened. Oh, and they were in like a giant tower. But—
Lizzie: That sounds really fun. I wish I knew the details. But yeah, oh well.
Zoe: Yeah. It was hard to find, like sources and analysis that were in English.
Lizzie: Yeah, fair, yeah.
Zoe: Or in languages that I could read. Like, I have a French source, but I can't read Korean yet.
Lizzie: Who knows? About the future.
Zoe: Yeah, anyway, eventually, yeah, she arrives at the source of the medicinal water. However, the guardian of the water also realizes that she is a woman and requires her to work for him and bear him sons before she can take any of the water.
Lizzie: Oh, okay.
Zoe: So in some stories, she bears up to 12 sons before she's able to take any of the water for herself and her family.
Lizzie: Wow. Okay. Must have been a really long time she was there.
Zoe: Yeah. Although, like, Yeah, well, finally, she is able to take the medicine to water and also she takes some flowers of resurrection from the area too. But when she returns on a journey, it's takes so long, and she's been there for so long that when she returns, she finds out that her parent or parents have already died from their strange disease and their funeral is already being held.
Lizzie: Yeah, fair. I mean, if they were already sick, and she was up there for a really long time, I guess that's to be expected.
Zoe: But that doesn't stop her. So she runs in, interrupts the funeral procession, and forces open the lids of the coffin. Using the flowers of resurrection she brings her parents back to life and using the medicinal water she cures them.
Lizzie: Oh, oh, that's so nice. She had a good daughter. They didn't even like her.
Zoe: Yeah, yeah. Oh, we'll talk about that.
Lizzie: Oh, okay.
Zoe: Yeah. But usually after this, she becomes a goddess and she is considered the patron goddess of shamans, also a conductor of dead souls and she represents the Big Dipper constellation.
Lizzie: Oh, how cool.
Zoe: Yeah. So that is the general story. Obviously, again, tons of variation, but what are your thoughts?
Lizzie: Okay, so I really wish I had like more details about like, all these scenes, because they sound so fun. Yeah, I think she's so cool. I think there's probably a lot of, well, probably you're gonna talk about this, but about how she's so like filial and loyal to her parents, even though her parents cast her aside and didn't want her and named her trash and everything. Which is Yeah, shows a lot of strength of character. And I think that's really interesting. But yeah, I really like, I like themes where it's like, you have to travel all across the world to cure this disease in like this really obscure way. I think it's really fun and I think it's cool that she released a ton of dead souls and like, became a goddess and stuff. And she's very cool. I like her. I want to hear more about her.
Zoe: Yeah. So first, I want to talk a bit about some variations just for funsies. So in the west central part of Korea, there's a strong Buddhist influence. She's always helped by the Buddha. When she is abandoned as a child, he brings her to an old childless couple that's looking for good karma. So Buddhist influence there.
Lizzie: Yeah. Yeah. I wonder if that was late or if I wasn't also like, kind of earlier versions?
Zoe: Yeah, I think that's just something that's hard to tell. Yeah, the Eastern and Gyeongsang traditions, and Gyeongsang is a province in southeastern Korea, they give more details to the parts of her quests. And that includes the fact that the guardian of the water is an exile of God who must have sons in order to return to Heaven. So that gives like, more explanation of why she had to bear him sons.
Zoe: It's still not great. But to me, it's like, okay, at least there was a reason.
Lizzie: I mean, it's rather coercive, but yeah, I guess he was also on his a quest. I don't know. Yeah.
Zoe: Yeah. It's like, okay, maybe they were like, I help you, you helped me and she was like, Okay, I mean, yeah, that's what I want.
Lizzie: Mutual, uh—
Zoe: But still—
Zoe: I don't know, quid pro quo, etc. You know, still not great, but it makes more sense to me, which is good.
Zoe: And then so the Jeolla Province, which is in the southwest, those traditions tend to have less details, including, they don't have the detail of her dressing as a man. So
Lizzie: I guess that's really that important to apply. I just think it's a fun detail.
Zoe: Yeah. I mean, so it sort of makes sense, because it's, like, safer for her to travel dressed as a man. I mean, yeah. But then also, it's not a very good disguise, apparently, because everyone can see through it, or at least the significant characters can see through it. But it's also I guess, the sort of superhuman characters kind of mainly, like the guy can see through it, and then the Buddha can see through it, it's like, yeah, he's technically human but he's sort of beyond human status, in a way because of how significant he is as a person.
Lizzie: Yeah, I mean, yeah, that makes sense that fellow humans would not be able to tell like religious and spiritual figures would be able to.
Zoe: Yeah. And then there are two northern versions that both originate from South Hamgyong. And one of them Princess Bari cannot reach the water on her own but needs divine mercy in order to get there. And then she dies at the end of the story without becoming a goddess. And her resurrected mother dies once again soon after. So this sort of takes away a lot of her power as a character as a figure in legend.
Lizzie: And when she crossed the water that's like her getting into the heavens, right? Because I know a lot of—
Lizzie: —in a lot of places have you crossing river to get into the underworld.
Zoe: Yeah, I mean, it's sort of like that, I think, I think I mean, I'm going to talk a bit about this later with, like, the construction of the underworld, or like, the, the spiritual realm in like the Korean conception of that in like, the spiritual traditions. It doesn't seem to be like, it's sort of on the same plane, and you just kind of have to walk far enough in order to get there. You know what I mean? But like, by changing the sea into land, it's easier to cross safer
Lizzie: Yeah, she was able to because of that divine -
Zoe: You can walk instead of like having to get a boat and worry about storms and yeah, finding food and water and stuff, you know, like, objectively Yeah, but the diminishing of her role in the north is likely due to the greater importance of a local funeral goddess named Cheongjeong-gaksi. So that's interesting you know, like, I'm it makes sense, because she's really important to funerary rites. But if they already have a goddess for funerary rites, then like, they don't need her, you know? Yep. And then finally, there are many parallels between this story and the Manchu tale of the Nishan shaman, which tells the story of a woman who resurrects the son of a rich man. So yeah, that's a potential story that's like linked to this story as well. Another woman who resurrects the man, so yeah, that is a lot of the different variations. Of course, there's a lot more, but those are like the most notable regional variations, I believe. So as we talked about before, I think it's really important to look in the story at like, the context of Confucianism, because as I said, at the beginning, muism is influenced by Confucianism, and you can sort of see that in this story.
Lizzie: With like, filial piety.
Zoe: Yeah, well, yeah, filial piety is a huge one. So, Lizzie, what is filial piety like, how would you define that?
Lizzie: It's like, you have to obey your parents and be loyal to them, like your whole life and serve them. And when you're a parent, your child will also has to dothe same thing. The parents are like, really, really important. And you have to adhere to their rules. And you have to be Yeah, and being a good child also involves like, ignoring, if they treat you badly, etc. It's best to be really, really good to them and loyal to them no matter what.
Zoe: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that's really basically it in my understanding. But yeah, so Confucianism is all about, like, different relationships of power, and like, different like So one big one, as we just talked about is between parents and child, and the parents have power over the child, but the child's should still respect the parents. And then another big one is the relationship between man and woman.
Lizzie: And how women are inferior.
Zoe: Yeah, the man is considered superior to the woman there's a ton of Confucian texts that are like women are evil and like, like they do bad things. They have a tendency to do bad things.
Lizzie: Yeah, Confucius is all about women are inferior.
Zoe: Yeah. And also, basically, the idea of order concept of order and Confucianism to my understanding is that like, even though there's a different, like power dynamic, everyone should still like, behave properly in their roles, and then everyone will be happy, even though like, some roles are more powerful than others. So yeah, again, Confucianism is super patriarchal women are less than men. Women have to work not only in the fields, but also serve as housekeepers cooks, and raise their children. And even though they do so much work, women are only valued for their ability to produce more sons. And then it also emphasizes the importance of filial piety loyalty to one's father parents. And so yeah, as you said earlier, Lizzie, Princess Bari is a great example of filial piety. She's willing to go to the ends of the earth to save her parents suffering incredible odds and difficult tasks to save them. Like she literally is asked, "are you willing to go, like 3000 leagues more?" and she says, "I'm willing to go until I die," like, and I think-
Lizzie: And that's even in spite of the fact that she mostly grew up away from them.
Zoe: Yeah, like she grew up, she was cast out by her parents, and she grew up without them, but she still has intense loyalty, simply because they're her parents, which is very powerful, like example of that sort of loyalty. Also, I sort of wonder, I actually don't know, because I didn't think of this into now, but like, what is Confucianism say about like abandoning your children as a parent? Like, I'm guessing that's, I would guess that's probably not good.
Lizzie: Yeah. I mean, because they're not playing within their roles. I'm assuming that you would still have to be pious when given the opportunity.
Zoe: Yeah, so like, I'm guessing that maybe the parents aren't acting in a way that's like appropriate in Confucian standards, but I genuinely do not know so. But also, she subverts sexist Confucian ideals because she's an example of a very powerful woman accomplishing great deeds and doing incredible things, while also being a model of Confucian piety. So again, the Confucian belief is that women are always weaker than men and cannot accomplish what men can and also that women are morally weaker than men, women are generally going to do like worse things than men. And so in the story, it almost, it's almost subversive in a way, because we're showing like this woman, this woman, who is cast out for being a girl, which is like, you know, sexist she's not the son that they wanted. But she ends up proving that she is just as good she can do anything that a son can do.
Lizzie: And even more so than her other self sisters, too, because they were refusing to go to the Western Heavens and get-
Lizzie: The, water, but she said, "No, I will do it." Proving -
Lizzie: That she is the best child.
Zoe: The best child. Yeah, she is basically proving herself to be the son that they wanted without actually being a son, you know,
Lizzie: Yeah, which only goes with the features of how she was cross dressing.
Zoe: Like yes, actually, I was thinking about that. Like, she dresses up as a boy, even though she's not actually a boy. Which I'm wonder is like, is this symbolic of her, you know, representing the role of the son even though she is like a girl?
Zoe: Which I don't know. It's very interesting to me. So then, writer, Eun Ae Lee relates the story of Princess Bari to the Korean concept of han in her article, "The Value of Embracing in Korean Common Pain and Struggle, Han in a Korean Woman's Perspective". So according to the article, han is a feeling of suffering from the bottom of one's hearts, often from feelings of abandonment or shame, and it can only exist within the context of an already present relationship, not between people who do not already know each other. And so it can manifest itself in a desire for revenge or also in mi-eun jeong, which means love transformed from hate.
Lizzie: Oh, interesting.
Zoe: So in Princess Bari's story, her father rejects her because she's a daughter, not a son, as we discussed. However, when she hears about her parents illnesses she chooses to go even though no one really thought she could do it. Like since she's a girl, she's considered weak and useless, unable to complete such difficult tasks. However, she ultimately proves this theory wrong by accomplishing all the tasks and bringing her family back to life. And so, Lee posits that being abandoned by your family made Princess party experience hon sadness about being abandoned and discriminated against. But because she experiences sadness, she misses her family, because, you know, they left her she. And because of that, instead of trying for revenge, she channels her feelings of sadness into feelings of love, mi-eun jeong, and that motivates her to take on the quest instead to heal her family. Instead of trying to take revenge.
Lizzie: I find it interesting that they were, or at least one implication is that they, like her family, was being punished by the heavens for treating her so badly. But then she's the one that actually had to go on this huge journey to heal them.
Zoe: Yeah. Yeah, she kind of has to prove herself. Like it's prove her value
Lizzie: was a little unfair, because she didn't do anything wrong in the first place. But yeah.
Zoe: But I mean, it's also like, Yeah, I mean, it is unfair. I would, I personally feel like it's a little unfair. But it's also kind of like, well, here, am I, I'm showing you my value in the best way possible. Which is super understandable. You know, like, your daughters, your six daughters, they were raised in the palace, they were treated super well but do they actually love you? No. Because they aren't willing to do this, but I'm willing to do this even though you left me because I understand. Yeah, you know, like so. It's my duty. Yeah. So take that. Again. It's like a you know, she's showing you know that she's piety that yeah,
Lizzie: That she's the most like moral and good out of all of them.
Zoe: Yeah. And I sort of look at the story is one about ending suffering and the desire to end suffering. So she goes on her quest to end the suffering of her parents, despite their cruelty towards her and the grief of being kicked out as a child. Even because of that she knows she believes that her parents are good at heart, and she's the only person who can save them. So therefore, she must save them. She is no stranger to suffering, let her life could not have been easy being abandoned by parents could not have been easy. But she chooses to take on a more difficult task to take on more suffering because of the possibility that she could end her family suffering and potentially end further suffering for herself. Which I think, you know, again, it's very self-sacrificial. Right?
Lizzie: Yeah. I mean, if it's just kind of a like classic, heroic, like, protagonist figure.
Lizzie: She has like a really heroic motive and also this whole, like, quest to like, prove herself and like, yeah, like, she's just
Lizzie: Kind of a classic, like saga hero. Yeah.
Zoe: Yeah. I mean, it's interesting, because like, again, she's not motivated by revenge, which is a huge motivation in most like saga quests.
Zoe: She's motivated by her desire to help.
Lizzie: And like do the right thing. And also, like, love for her family.
Zoe: Do the right thing Yeah. And like, she would be totally understandable. She was like, no, like, I'm not going to do this. You never did anything for me. So I'm not going to do anything for you. But I think she decided to, like, take the path that sort of ended that cycle of like cruelty,
Zoe: Decide to do the right thing and bring her parents back.
Lizzie: She was not she didn't have to do that. But like, the fact that you did it is also I think it also shows a lot of strength of character.
Zoe: Yeah. And I mean, like, also, like, what else did she have to do with her life? You know, I feel like—
Lizzie: It's kind of like her purpose, right? Because she was sent from the heavens to like, do all this.
Zoe: Yeah. Like her mom was having prophetic dreams. Like,
Lizzie: I'm sure.
Zoe: She was, like, born great.
Lizzie: She's doing something significant and like, meaningful? And that's all. I know.
Lizzie: Yeah. And it was,
Zoe: yeah. So like, again, I'm always like, mmmmm, about, you know, self sacrificial narratives. You know, I want her to feel her own value without the value of the parents that, like, sacrificed her. But that's not the point of the story. This is not like the, I feel like that's not like where we're coming from, you know, like you pointed out
Lizzie: It's kind of like confuscian ideology that, like, you have to serve your parents, even after they were horrible and abusive to you, which, in like a modern day context, I would say, No, you don't have to do that. But like, with the context of like, way in the past, I mean, it's nice.
Zoe: Yeah, and I do think it's powerful to have that really like, model of like filial piety be this daughter, especially when in the context of a family that really wanted a son. And to show that no, I'm good enough as a daughter, I am what you dreamed of as a daughter.
Lizzie: Yeah, she has value exactly how she is. And she is heroic and brave and clever. And even if her father did not think that she was valuable, yeah.
Zoe: And so to close out, I also read a fun article about the view of afterlife and spirituality in Korean mythology. And so the story of Princess Bari is considered to be one of countless mythological stories in which the protagonist goes into the land of the dead and returns successfully. And, like most of the other stories we've talked about, this can show a lot about how cultures view death. So in the case of this story, the Land of the Dead is not that different from the living, except there are things with divine properties, and it's kind of hard to get there. So when Princess Bari is trying to fight for her parents medicine, she lives works and gives birth, just as one could do in the land of the living. And there's not a hierarchical relationship between the two worlds, the Land of the Dead is not underground, it's not in the heavens. It's like on the same plane as the land of the living, you just need to sort of walk far enough to get there is basically how it seems, seems to be the concepts. If you just like, keep going long enough, you'll get there. So it's not like, you know, it's not in the ground. So it's not like worse, or it's not in heaven. So it's not like better it just is,
Lizzie: it's like they're gonna be like, wholly separate from the land of the living. Yeah, like coexist.
Zoe: Yeah. And so that's sort of reflected in other aspects of the, of Muism as well. So like, as I mentioned, there's ancestor worship and ancestor communication in this, in this spiritual practices, and ghosts of the dead are able to visit their loved ones far more often than in many other cultures. They often appear on the anniversaries of their deaths, to ceremonies that their families hold to honor them. And so this shows, shows a general concept of the dead and the living being very close together, and able to interact with each other more. The deceased family members are not disappeared, but few but are simply invisible throughout the rest of the year. So they're still there, you just can't see them anymore.
Lizzie: That's nice.
Zoe: And then so that sort of shows that like, you know, the Land of the Dead is in the same area, it's like at the same spot in the same place, you know, you just it's just a little separate And so in that way, like the dead are still there they're just a little separate now. And like that's not really related to what else we're discussing, but I just thought that was really cool. And really interesting.
Lizzie: I agree.
Zoe: Yeah. Yeah. And so yeah, that is Princess Bari. I think she's a really cool, really interesting lady. And I had a really good time learning about her.
Lizzie: Me too. I think it's cool that she gets her own like heroic quests, because I felt we don't see that much of that with female protagonists.
Zoe: Yeah. Oh, you're so, you're right. Yeah. I hadn't even thought of that. Yeah.
Lizzie: Yeah. Which I mean, obviously, that's our domain is female stories and folklore and mythology. But even so it's hard to find female figures being like heroes. And I would love to know about her story more in depth, though, I'm sure that English resources are quite limited. But yeah, she's cool. I like her.
Zoe: Yeah. And it's just, you know, there's so much regional variation that's like, well, you can find out one version in depth, but like, then there's another version that's like a little different. So, that's why the story is not like super in depth is because it's sort of trying to create like an earth story out of, you know, the general of all the different versions that are generally being told. Yeah,
Lizzie: of course. So thank you, Zoe, for telling us more about Princess Bari. Thank you for listening. Please feel free to donate to our Koffee and subscribe listen to our other episodes. And follow us on Instagram and leave a review. Thank you.
Lizzie: Mytholadies podcast is produced, researched and presented by Elizabeth Lacroix and Zoe Kaeninger. You can find us on Instagram and Twitter at Mytholadies and visit us on our website at mytholadies.com. Our cover art is by Helena Cailleaux and music was written by Icarus Tyree. Thanks for listening, see you in two weeks.