Jeju’s Three Divine Founders and Their Princess Brides

The story of Jeju’s legendary founders, who are said to have created the ancient state of Tamna, has been passed down to us through both oral tradition and written records. Though some details vary, all accounts agree that the first people to populate the island were three demi-gods who emerged from three holes in the ground on the north slope of Halla Mountain at a place called Moheunghyeol, which is now known as Samseonghyeol

The three brothers were all called Eulla; their last names were Ko, Yang and Bu. Representatives of these three families still perform memorial services for their ancestors at Samseonghyeol in spring and fall each year. Samseong refers to the three family names, while hyeol means hole

These divine men are said to have been fishermen and hunters who ate fish and wild game and used the skins of animals as clothing. One day while out hunting, they saw that a wooden chest sealed with purple clay had floated up to the east coast of the island. Another version says that the chest was made of stone, and that when it floated towards them as they arrived at the shore of Onpyeong Village, Ko, Yang and Bu cried out in delight, so the spot came to be known as Joyful Cry Harbor.

Upon opening the chest, the three Eullas found a man inside in a purple robe wrapped with a red sash, as well as a box made of stone, or egg-shaped chests of jade in another account. Inside were three beautiful young women in blue dress, along with calves, foals, and the seeds of five grain crops.

The man said that he was an envoy of the king of a nation to the east, who was aware of the presence of the three divine men on Jeju. The king wished to assist them in creating a new nation and accomplishing great deeds, so he had sent three of his daughters to be their wives, along with the grain and livestock to found a community upon. Having explained the purpose of his mission to the island, the messenger flew off into the sky on a cloud.

When the envoy came out of the chest, the first step his horse took on the shore left a trace that is still there today. The footprint-shaped depression in the flat rock lapped by waves is that very footprint. The place is called Whinnying Horse Harbor, because the horse whinnied as it lowered itself down on the rock to let off the envoy. 

Once Ko, Yang and Bu Eulla had chosen their brides, they got married at a pond known as Honinji, meaning Wedding Pond, about 500 meters south of Onpyeong Village. After selecting an area of the island with good spring water and fertile soil, they each shot an arrow to choose the sites of their new homes; each brother settled down where his arrow fell. They planted the seeds of the grain crops and bred their livestock, becoming more and more prosperous with each passing season. The locations of their original homesteads are said to be the present-day neighborhoods of Il-do, I-do and Sam-do (First, Second and Third Village) in Jeju City. 

Based on the account given on February 28, 1975, by Mr. Hyeon Jang-Su of Onpyeong-ri.

From 99 Legends of Jeju Island, a compilation based on the work of Professor Hyun Yong-Joon, and his translations of various historical documents mentioning the story.

Joyful Cry Harbor : Kwaeseonggae : 쾌성개

   Kwae means joyful, seong means sound and gae refers to a section of coastline that resembles a harbor, with cliffs and a small inlet.

Whinnying Horse Harbor : Molseonggae : 몰성개/말성개

   Mol means horse, seong means sound and gae refers to a section of coastline that resembles a harbor, with cliffs and a small inlet.

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