metamorphosis magic

by Charles La Shure

Among the deities and semi-deities of ancient Korea, the chosen method of battle was magic. Unlike Western magic, which often involves incantations cast to harm the enemy, metamorphosis magic was more indirect. Rather than directly attempting to harm the enemy, one would test one's strength against an opponent by changing into various animals. The transformation would continue until one party gave up. In all instances the weaker party transforms first and is then bested by the stronger party who transforms into a stronger animal, most often the weaker animal's traditional hunter or nemesis. The contest ends without violence, and is really a test of strength that is a substitute for direct battle.

For examples of metamorphosis magic, see the stories of Habaek and Seok T'alhae.