by Charles La Shure

The song sung by the nine elders of Gaya when summoning King Suro. The name of the song comes from the name of the place where it was sung, but it also has another connotation; "Kuji" was the name of a place but it means "delicious turtle." This poem song is one of the oldest recorded poems in Korean literature, and the words run as follows:

Keobuga, Keobuga
Meorireul naeeora
Naeeonoch'i aneumyeon
Kuweo meogeuri
"Turtle, Turtle
Stick out your head
If you do not
(We) will roast and eat (you)"

Besides being one of the earliest Korean poems, Kujiga is also important for its magico-religious significance. The chanting of the poem-song was accompanied by dancing, making it one of the earliest (if not the first) recorded instance of a shamanic ritual (kut) in Korea.

The form of the song is also a universal formula typical of ancient incantations: appellation — command — supposition — threat.