Seen in Jeonju

Countdown to Halloween D-2: Werewives

30th October 2011

Yesterday’s post about snakes was really just a transition piece to today’s featured monsters, Snake Woman. These sneaky reptiles will seduce you and trick you into marriage.. and they are not the only animals who take human form to get you to walk them down the wedding aisle. Foxes and snails are also on the prowl for men to marry. Read on to learn the signs if your girlfriend is actually one of these animals in disguise.

madam white snakeThe origins of Snake Wives was in China with the Chinese legend of the White Snake.  The basic story describes a snake who has lived for 1000 years and now has great supernatural powers and wishes to take the next step to become a goddess and use her powers for good. Eventually she meets a man and falls in love with him, but as a great monk intervenes as their union is against the laws of nature and she is ordered back to her true form. In some versions, the snake woman is punished by being trapped at the bottom of a well while in more modern versions look at the romantic side of the story and find sympathy for the couple and allow them to remain together. In some versions she is accompanied by a thousand year old green snake (or sometimes carp) who acts as her maidservant. Shin Sang-ok’s 1960 film, Madam White Snake follows the legend to a T. Lee Yong-min, the same man who directed the Flower of Evil, gave us The Revenge of the Snake Woman in 1970. In this latter tale, Yong-nyeo is murdered by wealthy Shin and is reincarnated as a snake. She skips the entire thousand-year bit and directly gains the power to transform herself into a woman.  She seduces Ji-eun, Shin’s son-in-law, in her quest for revenge, but winds up falling in love with him. Ji-eun however, does not survive the horror of the snake woman and she kills Shin to complete her vengeance. However, with her success she must now pass on to the next world where Ji-eun is waiting to greet her.

Is your lover really a snake? Take the following quiz and find out!

1.  Does your girlfriend aspire to be a goddess?   Yes_____    No ______

2. Have you arrived home on May 5th of the lunar calendar to find a snake in your home and your girlfriend nowhere to be found?    Yes______  No_______

3. Does your girlfriend’s skin turn dry and peals off, especially in summer?  Yes____ No_____

4. Does your girlfriend become sluggish and prefers to sleep in winter?  Yes____ No_____

5. Does one of your girlfriend’s best friend resemble a carp?  Yes_____ No______

If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions, beware!  You may be dating a snake woman in disguise.

Far more frequent than snake women are were-foxes or gumiho.  These live throughout East Asia.  In China, they are known as ‘huli jing’ and are thought to be more likely to cause mischief than be actually evil, although they will also seduce humans.  In Japan, they are ‘kitsune’ and they may be either good or evil.  In Korea, they are ‘gumiho’ and  have been entirely evil however recent depictions of them on television have robbed them of their evil natures. Basically, a gumiho is a thousand year old fox. Over time it has grown nine tails and a strong desire to become human and lose its naturally evil character. Modern stories show both sexes of gumihos but in legends, they were sexless–able to transform into either a man or woman, most often choosing the form of a beautifu woman as men were easier to seduce.

foxy ladyOne of the reasons that they want to seduce humans is to eat their livers (or in some texts, the heart of their victim).  They must eat these to survive and, when they cannot seduce a man and devour his organs, they will dig corpses out of grave mounds and eat their livers instead. A gumiho may become human by living with a man for 1000 days as his wife, never eating meat during that time and in some versions, never eating food meant for humans. These gumihos sneak out at night to kill chickens or eat from a bowl on the floor. However, if within that time the spouse discovers the actions of his wife and comes to suspect she is a gumiho, her chance to become human is revoked. She will be pretty upset about this and no matter how much she claimed to love you, she will wind up killing you and eating your liver..or heart.  Gumihos are dangerous no matter what recent television dramas tell you. Take a look at the folliwng checklist to determine if, in fact, you are dating a gumiho.. This applies to both men and women!

1. Does your lover pressure you into living together? Yes ____ No______

2. Does your lover claim to be a vegetarian but drools over lunch when you eat beef or pork?  Yes_____ No_____

3. Are your neighbors’ chickens disappearing?  Yes _____  No______

4. Do domesticated dogs dislike your partner?  Yes______ No______

5. Does your lover go out in the dead of night and come back with dirty clothes, shoes or feet? Yes_____ No______

If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, beware– You are dating a gumiho!  Note:  Never give voice to your suspicions!  The gumiho will know and turn on you!

lady snailThe final animal that might seek to become your wife is the snail. This unlikely invertebrate will hide in your house when you are home, but come out when you step out to do the housework and prepare meals for you. Unlike the other two on this list, there is nothing dangerous about this situation except that it also is breaking the laws of nature.  In the original legend, the snail transforms into a woman during the day when the master of house was out but eventually the young man, curious as to who is cleaning and cooking for him, spies on his home after leaving and sees the snail at work. The two fall in love and marry.  However, there are two possible endings to this story. One is ‘they lived happily ever after’ and the other is not so happy. In the other version, the young man’s mother takes offense at having a snail for a daughter-in-law and one day throws the mollusk out of the house on a straw mat and then sets it on fire. Her son, in love with his whelk, throws himself on the fire to be with her.  Only one Korean movie that I know of deals with this topic, Fat Boy Meets Brownie Girl pictured above.

1. Is your wife/girlfriend absolutely devoted to you and subservient to your will? Yes___ No____

2. Does she do all the housework and cooking while you are at work?  Yes_____ No_____

3. Are there occassionally unexplained trails of slime on your floors, wall or bed? Yes___ No____

4. Does your girlfriend/wife have feelers on the top of her head?  Yes___ No____

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions you may be living with a snail woman. Don’t panic, she is not dangerous… Just don’t tell anyone.

Althought the danger level of these creatures ranges from extreme to nil, the were-wives earn themselves a spot on the Obscure Monster Countdown to Halloween for all the cinematic fun they have given over the years.

One Response to “Countdown to Halloween D-2: Werewives”

  1. peter north Says:

    i love your topic!