Dokkaebi are found in the folk tales from all around Korea. When I first started to read and find Dokkaebi stories, they seemed to be all of the same kind. Some people I talk to make claims that Dokkaebi are a certain way, but after meeting these creatures in folklore, I’ve found that there are three different kinds of Dokkaebi. But there are a few things that we might be able to say about all Dokkaebi.
Dokkaebi are spirits of inanimate objects, and appear fierce and often fiery. They love to play games and tricks. But other than that, different stories tend to present different kinds of Dokkaebi.
The first kind of Dokkaebi take on some semblance of the inanimate object they come from. So far these stories are short and simple and one particular story (Meet Dokkaebi – 9) is the basis of the idea many Koreans have that Dokkaebi only have one leg. The one legged concept is not really supported in other stories and artwork.
The second kind of Dokkaebi are more ethereal and fiery. They often take the form of a beautiful woman or dancing lights. These stories seem to be more of the drunk stumbling home and seeing something odd sort. (Meet Dokkaebi -3 and Meet Dokkaebi – 4)
The third kind of Dokkaebi, so far, seems to be the most popular. These spirits resemble the Japanese Oni and are often feared, but unlike the Oni, tends to be more mischievous than antagonistic.
These Dokkaebi usually have clubs called bangmangi. The bangmangi can summon pretty much whatever is needed or wanted. This can never create an item and whatever is called has to have come from somewhere. This seems to explain my missing socks. They often also have a magic hat called a gamtu, which turns the wearer invisible.
The most common dokkaebi story, the one all Koreans know in one form or another is the story of the Dokkaebi and the Wen (Meet Dokkaebi – 1).
I hope you enjoy the Dokkaebi stories here. When I find more, I will be sure to post them!