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Haesun & Daesun: Gods of the Sun and Moon

Haesun and Daesun are the Sun and Moon gods respective to folk deities. The story goes...

Back when tigers used to smoke, there was a small village. A mother and her two children lived alone in a small hut. One day, when she was returning on a small trip with rice cakes for her children, a hungry tiger came upon her. He complained to her how hungry he was.

"I have these delicious rice cakes from the nearby village, please take them," the mother earnestly said, giving away the food without another thought, that's how selfless her heart was.

The tiger ate it quickly, and growled, "I am still hungry. Can you not give me any more rice cakes?"

The mother shook her head. "I am sorry, but I gave you all I had. I was bringing them back for my children."

"Children? How many children?" The tiger straightened, ears quirked in curiosity.

"Oh I misspoke. I don't have any children, I was thinking of my sister's kids. Excuse me," the mother said hurriedly, trying to pass by.

The tiger was quick and mauled the mother. "I'm still hungry," he said discontentedly to himself, and made his way to the mother's village and her little hut.

Images courtesy of Korea Post

The front door was locked. And so Tiger, having eaten the mother, could use her voice. He mimicked her gentle voice and called out, "Kids, I'm home, but I need you to open the door for me. I brought you both lots of rice cakes and my arms are full."

When the two children opened the front door, they were very frightened, and tried to escape through the back door. Tiger chased, but the children were quick, and climbed up a very tall pine tree. Tiger climbed after them, taunting them about eating their mother.

Haesun and Daesun didn't know what else to do. They were distraught from the Tiger's taunts, and prayed earnestly to the Sky: "Please send down a rope to save us, for we are innocent and lost."

Tiger mimicked the mother's voice again, copying the children's prayer, "Please send down a rope to save us, for we are innocent and lost."

And from the clouds, a thick red colored rope unfurled towards the tree. Haesun and Daesun quickly climbed up, but the Tiger still followed. While the children made it above the clouds, as Tiger got closer, the rope began to fray, until the rope snapped completely. The Tiger fell to his death upon the earth, heart pierced by a pine branch.

The children felt relief and turned to face the Heaven's Gate. It opened to reveal Okwangsangje-nim, the Yellow Emperor of Heaven. He bestowed a law upon Haesun, the sister, to continue life from that day on as the Moon. And he bestowed a law upon Daesun, the brother, to continue life from that day on as the Sun.

Haesun was afraid of the dark. Her brother saw the look on her face, and volunteered to Okwangsangje-nim, "Please, would you let us switch? Haesun hates to be alone in the dark. If she is the Sun, she will never be alone and always have light. She is the elder sibling and I always follow her. I would be more comfortable being the Moon."

Okwangsangje-nim allowed it. And so Haesun-nim is our Sun Goddess and Daesun-nim our Moon God. When Daesun-nim manages to catch up to Haesun-nim, we experience a solar eclipse.

Epithets for Sun Goddess, Haesun:

  • She Who Shines

  • She Who Hides From the Dark

  • She Who Brings Life

  • She Who Brings Warmth

  • She Who Gives Prosperity

  • She Whose Rays Smile

Epithets for Moon God, Daesun:

  • He Who Shines At Night

  • He Who Hides In the Dark

  • He Who Reflects

  • He Who Shows Illusions

  • He Who Protects

  • He Whose Knowledge is Great


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