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Title: Haneullim  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Korean shamanism, Mu (shaman), Korean mythology, Sungmo, Gut (ritual)
Collection: God, Korean Mythology, Korean Shamanism, Religion in Korea
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Hwanin represented at the Samseonggung.
Grounds of the Samseonggung, a shrine for the worship of Hwanin, Hwanung, and Dangun.

Haneullim ("Lord of Heaven"), also spelled Hanalnim, Hananim, Hanunim, Hwanin (in the Dangun myth), also called Sangje, Sangjenim ("Highest Emperor") or simply Haneul ("Heaven") or Cheon ("Heaven", in Sino-Korean), or Cheonsin ("God of Heaven"),[1] is the concept of God in Korean Sinism—the Korean native religion and shamanism[2]—, and in other religions derived from it (for example Cheondoism and Jeungsanism).[3] In some sects he is called Okhwangsangje ("Great Jade Emperor" or "Great Shining Emperor").

Haneullim etymologically means "source [im, in] of all being [haneul, hwan]", indicating the fountain of the universe, the supreme being, the supreme mind.[4] Scholars say that this belief is the heart of all religions in Korea, and it is deeply rooted in the mind of the Korean people.[5]


  • Dangun myth 1
  • Haneullim trinity 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Sources 5

Dangun myth

In Korean myth, Dangun is the son of Hwanin, the "Heavenly King" and initiator of the Korean nation,[6] as well as ancestor of all mudang.[7]

The myth starts with prince Hwanung ("Heavenly Prince"), son of Hwanin. The prince asked his father to grant him government over Korea.[8] Hwanin accepted, and Hwanung was sent to Earth bearing three Heavenly Seals and accompanied by three thousand followers.[9] The prince arrived under the holy tree of sandalwood on the holy mountain, where he founded his holy city.[10]

At the time of his reign, a bear and a tiger were living in a cave near the humans, praying earnestly that their wish might be granted.[11] The bear patiently endured weariness and hunger, and after twenty-one days she was transformed into a beautiful woman, while the tiger ran away for it could not tolerate the effort.[12] The woman was overjoyed, and visiting the sandalwood she prayed that she might become the mother of a child.[13]

Her wish was appreciated, so that she became the queen and gave birth to a prince who was given the royal name of Dangun, the "Sandalwood King".[14] Dangun reigned as the first human king of Korea, giving the kingdom the name of Joseon, "Land of the Morning Calm".[15]

Dangun was the first shaman, intermediary between the human plain and Haneullim, to whom he worshipped and prayed on the behalf of his people.[16] Also the importance of the worship of other ancestors and gods is a mean of communion with the fountain of the universe, Haneullim.[17] The name Dangun might be derived from the Ural-Altaic Tengri;[18] in some provinces of Korea the shaman is still called nowadays Tangur Tangur-ari.[19] Later in the myth Dangun becomes the Sansin, the "God of the Mountain" (of growth, prosperity).[20]

Haneullim trinity

Sinist theology contains a triune idea of God in the myth of Dangun, the third form of Hwanin.[21] With Dangun as Sansin, the godly trinity of the Korean religion represents three generations of Haneullim, the Heavenly King.[22] Hwanin represents the transcendent source, with "haneul", "hwan" indicating "being" or the "Heaven", and "im", "in" the cause of it.[23] Hwanung, second form of Hwanin, is the god of the middle realm; he occupies the central realm between Heaven and Earth.[24]

Dangun, the "Sandalwood King", is the god of the Earth.[25] As Sansin, the "God of the Mountain", he represents the center of the cosmos reaching up to Heaven.[26] Where the heavenly princely lineage was incarnated, the "cosmic mountain" was formed, and the sandalwood became the "holy tree", all aspects fundamental to the shamanic experiences as Mircea Eliade highlights.[27] The concept is also explained in terms of Hwanin the God-Father creator of the universe, Hwanung the God-Teacher or the order of nature, and Dangun the God-King, the human king who directs the kingdom according to the natural order, making well-being.[28]

See also


  1. ^ All names listed: Sung-wook Hong, 2009. p. 39
  2. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 18
  3. ^ Sung-wook Hong, 2009. p. 39
  4. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 18
  5. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 18
  6. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 13
  7. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 17
  8. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 14
  9. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 14
  10. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 14
  11. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 14
  12. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 14
  13. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 14
  14. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 14
  15. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 14
  16. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 17
  17. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 17
  18. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. pp. 17-18
  19. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 18
  20. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. pp. 16-18
  21. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 18
  22. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 18
  23. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 18
  24. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 18
  25. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 18
  26. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. pp. 18-19
  27. ^ Jung Young Lee, 1981. p. 19
  28. ^ Lee Chi-ran, pp. 13-14


  • Jung Young Lee. Korean Shamanistic Rituals. Mouton De Gruyter, 1981. ISBN 9027933782
  • Lee Chi-ran. Chief Director, Haedong Younghan Academy. The Emergence of National Religions in Korea.
  • Sung-wook Hong. Naming God in Korea. Wipf & Stock, 2009. ISBN 160608626X
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