Written by: Astariel
The enemy robot you were carefully aiming at suddenly slides across the screen and you end up discharging your rockets into the ground where the robot had stood a second ago. You check your WiFi connection and sigh with frustration when you realise you’re not experiencing a lag, but facing a dash bot.
Apart from their annoying abilities and dashing looks (pun intended), the mysterious Korean bots are a curious bunch.
Kumiho, Haechi, Bulgasari…what do these names mean in Korean anyway? Why are they coloured so? What is all that talk about justice and steamed rice on the information popup…?
To satisfy your curiosity, I proudly present you the original Korean folklores behind these wonderful beasts that became the bane of the battlefield in War Robots.
Kumiho (Ku-Mee-Ho) – the Nine-Tailed Fox
The Nine-Tailed Fox makes a common appearance in East Asian folklore. In China and Japan, the Nine-Tailed Fox is generally considered an evil monster that can transform into a beautiful woman to seduce men and eat their liver. However, Koreans viewed the Nine-Tailed Fox to be a rather harmless creature of great wisdom and magic, who likes to prank the occasional woodcutter with her powers.
A popular Korean folktale tells a sad love story of a Nine-Tailed Fox who fell in love with a human. The Fox used her magical powers to transform into a beautiful woman and got married to him. If she could live together with him for a hundred days without being found out that she is a fox, she could turn into a real human. Unfortunately, the husband became suspicious of his wife’s odd behaviours, such as craving raw meat and fearing hunting dogs. On the 99th day the husband could stand the suspense no longer and threatened the wife to reveal her true form, at which she was forced to comply. Heartbroken and her dream shattered, the Nine-Tailed Fox left her astonished lover and fled deep into the mountains, never to be seen again.
Haechi (Heh-Chee) – the Guardian of Justice
Body like a lion, covered in scales, a pair of all-seeing eyes glare out from its horned head. This mythical beast roams the marshlands in Summer and dwells deep within pine forests during Winter. Haechi, also read as Haetae (Heh-Teh), means ‘crouching and glaring beast that deals justice with its horn’.
When Haechi spots an act of crime it will swiftly descend upon the scene and gore the evildoer with its horn. If the crime is deemed unforgivable, Haechi will then proceed to eat the sinner up. This fearsome Guardian of Justice was embroidered onto judge’s clothes in ancient Korea, and believed to help guide the wearer’s judgement to be righteous and fair. Stone statues of the beast still stand in front of the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office and the National Assembly Building in South Korea. Haechi is an official symbol of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea.
Bulgasari (Bull-Gah-Sah-Ree) – the Steamed Rice Monster
Bulgasari is a Korean monster with the body of a bear, nose of an elephant, rhinoceros’s eyes, tiger’s feet, and bull’s tail. Its teeth are like a saw, and the fur on its tough hide is made of needles. Females are usually found with striped pattern on the body.
It is widely believed that a Buddhist monk made this creature with leftover steamed rice, as a gift to an old couple for donating some food to him. He also left a curious message: “bulgasari-hwagasal” which means ‘cannot be killed, but can be killed with fire’. The rice monster was tiny and adorable at first. The old couple raised it with much love and fed it small items made of iron, as it would eat nothing else. The monster grew rapidly, however, and soon moved on from eating needles to devouring pots, hammers, and sickles. After the beast emptied the old couple’s house of metal objects, it ran away and proceeded to consume all things metal in its path. Eventually the king was made aware of this problematic fiend, and deployed his powerful soldiers heavily armed with deadly weapons. However, the thick hide of the monster was impenetrable. To the great horror of the soldiers, the monster happily ate up all the arrows, spears and swords used against it – and grew even larger. People started calling the monster Bulgasari – meaning ‘cannot be killed’. At last the old couple remembered the monk’s parting words, and set fire to the monster. Ablaze, the beast vomited all the metal objects it had consumed then disappeared into thin air. The king was pleased at the elimination of this troublesome monster, and rewarded the old couple handsomely.