Dragon Pond and the Ritual to Call for Rain

There is a pond in the neighborhood of Yongdam in Jeju City known as Dragon Pond. Rock walls shaped like a folding screen surround the pond on both sides, and the clean, clear water is deep all year round. It is said that many past governors of Jeju enjoyed relaxing on boats there, and the scene of their sail boats at night became well known as one of the Ten Sights of Yeongju. Yeongju is a former name of Jeju. 

People also say that from times long past the Dragon of the Eastern Sea came to enjoy the scenery at this place. That is why it came to be called Dragon Pond. Since the dragon would spend time there, people believed that they were guaranteed success if they made their prayers for rain at the pond.

A few hundred years ago, there was a drought so severe that the people of Jeju were all on the verge of starvation. The governor was worried sick and held several rituals to pray for rain. At that time there was a famous shaman surnamed Ko who lived in Mugeunseong (now the neighborhood of Samdo-2 in Jeju City). One day while at a tavern, he happened to say “If a ceremony were to be held at Dragon Pond, the rain would come…” 

Word of this got around to the governor, who ordered Mr. Ko the shaman to present himself at the regional government office. “I heard that you said we could induce the rain to fall by holding a ceremony at Dragon Pond. “Is that true?” “Yes, sir, I did say that,” replied the shaman. “Well, then, go and hold a rain ritual there. If it doesn’t work, you had better prepare for the worst,” the governor warned him.

Mr. Ko was filled with anxiety. There was no refusing the governor’s order, so he began preparations for the rain calling ceremony. For seven days, he bathed and purified himself. Once he was properly prepared, he made a dragon out of straw that was fifty or sixty feet long. Then he set up an altar at the highest point of the field next to Dragon Pond. He put the tail of the straw dragon in the pond and placed its head on the altar. Then the shaman began the seven-day long ritual to pray for rain. Mr. Ko called upon and entertained all the gods of heaven and earth, entreating them to send the island some much needed rain.

When the ritual was over and it was time to send the gods away, the sky turned bright and clear. There was not the slightest sign of rain to be seen. The shaman cried out to the gods “Each and every one of you has received your fair share of praise and glorification, and I have done everything possible to send you back satisfied. Yet now I must return to have my throat slit in the courtyard of the governor’s office? Oh, my all-seeing Lord of Heaven! Why do you ignore my pleas?” With flowing tears, the shaman sent the gods on their way.

Just then, a tiny cloud no bigger than a fist appeared above Sara Peak to the east. It suddenly grew so large that it covered the whole sky, and rain began to pour down in sheets. The lesser shamans who had aided Mr. Ko in performing the rain calling ritual cheered in celebration. They shouldered the straw dragon and carried it into the city, getting soaked in the rain. The local people all came out to help carry the dragon around, joyfully dancing and making music. A crowd of celebrants gathered in the courtyard of the governor’s office. All the officials serving under the governor came out and made four deep ceremonial bows to the dragon. Then they joined the people in joyous celebration. 

From that day forward, people believed in the efficacy of holding rituals to pray for rain at Dragon Pond, and whenever there was a drought, they would do just that.

Based on the account given on December, 1965, by Mr. An Sa-In of Yongdam I-dong, Jeju City. 

From 99 Legends of Jeju Island, a compilation based on accounts compiled by Professor Hyun Yong-Joon.

Dragon Pond : Yongso : 용소 : 龍沼 or Yongyeon : 용연 : 龍淵


   During the Goryeo (918-1392) and Joseon (1392-1897) dynasties, the term mok (목: 牧) was used for an administrative district that included a large town, but it could also be used to refer to the town itself. Although changes in districting occurred several times, both the island itself and the largest town on the island were called Jeju Mok (Jejumok: 제주목: 濟州牧). The chief administrator of a mok was called a moksa (목사: 牧使), here translated as governor.

Governor’s Office

   The building was called a dongheon (동헌: 東軒). The term referred to the buildings used by the highest-ranking officials of a town (goeul: 고을), or the large open area between rooms within such a building. They were used to conduct the official business of the state.  

Lord of Heaven

   The god here called ‘Lord of Heaven’ is Haneulnim (하늘님) in Korean. Haneul means sky, while nim is a term used to show respect for the one being spoken to or about. Haneulnim designates the highest and most powerful of the gods, the Lord (or Emperor) of Heaven (Cheonje: 천제: 天帝). In Korean mythology, the Lord of Heaven is called Hwanin (환인: 桓因). He allowed his son to come down to Earth; that son was Hwanung (환웅: 桓雄), who had a child with a bear. The child’s name was Dangun (단군: 檀君), and he is said to have become the progenitor of the Korean race.


   The government position here translated as ‘minister of labor’ was called an ibang (이방: 吏房). During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), ibang were placed in each district to oversee such matters as the management of personnel, performance reviews of government officials, and the awarding of medals and decorations. The ‘minister of justice’ was a hyeongbang (형방: 刑房). Each province had a hyeongbang, whose job was to take care of all matters related to the dispensation of justice. The hyeongbang played the role of both prosecutor and judge.

Mugeunseong : 무근성

   This is now the neighborhood of Samdo-2 : 삼도2동 in Jeju City.

Sara Peak : Sarabong : 사라봉

Son of the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea

    The Dragon King of the Eastern Sea (Donghaeyongwang: 동해용왕: 東海龍王) is one of the four divine rulers of the oceans in Chinese mythology, and is also found in Korean folk traditions. The dragon kings are thought to have power over bodies of water, including springs, ponds, rivers and lakes. They can also manipulate the weather and cause rain to fall. The dragon kings are able to shapeshift into human form and have underwater crystal palaces. Jeju is located at the edge of the East China Sea, and there has traditionally been a strong belief in the existence and power of the Dragon King, or Yongwang, on the island.

Straw Dragon

   The straw dragon is said to have been fifty or sixty ja (자)  long. A ja was a unit of measurement of length equal to about 30.3 centimeters.

Ten Sights of Yeongju

   Yeongju (영주: 瀛洲) is one of the former names of Jeju, meaning Home of the Gods. The Ten Sights of Yeongju (Yeongjusipgyeong: 영주십경: 瀛州十景) is a list of the places most worth visiting in Jeju. Several lists have been compiled, with the earliest dating back several centuries.

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