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This Question Came to My Inbox: “Did Korea Used to Have Tigers?”

I have to give an emphatic, “yes!” to this question. The tiger is a beloved symbol of Korea for a good reason. If you look back through many of their ancient stories, many include tigers. One of the reasons they began building their houses the way they did was to keep tigers out. If you want to see some of the stories, look back through my blogs. The one with their first emperor, Dangun, has a tiger and a bear in it. Bears still exist in the woods in Korea. There is a kind of Korean creation story of the sun and the moon, and the tiger is the bad guy. That story is also among my blogs. There was a time that, in Korea, if you had a tiger skin, it was considered a sign of riches and luxury. Unfortunately, the tigers are gone now.

There are bobcats roaming some woods in S. E. Oklahoma. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Koreans had to protect themselves from the tigers. They built their houses so the tigers couldn’t get in, and they also went out tiger hunting. I understand the men going out tiger hunting. I lived in Korea for fourteen years, and I have also lived in south eastern Oklahoma in the U. S. A. in a house in the middle of the woods. There was a bobcat roaming those woods when I was out there. It was going around killing people’s livestock because many people keep animals in the country in south eastern Oklahoma in the country. The bobcat was a dangerous pest. What if some kid had been out there with their animals? Besides that, people couldn’t afford to lose milk cows, chickens kept for eggs, or pigs that would be sold. The men who lived around there banded together and went bobcat hunting. They knew they had to protect themselves. That is exactly what the people in Korea did. They knew they had to protect themselves from this dangerous predator. The men would go out on hunting parties looking for tigers. Eventually, hunting tigers became like a sport for the Koreans.

The Japanese and Koreans both hunted those tigers. Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

Eventually, came Japanese occupation. The Japanese love to hunt too. The Japanese had hunted a kind of small wild dog to extinction in Japan. The Japanese are perfectionists, and if something needs to be done, they do it right!! Initially, that small wild dog was a dangerous pest because it was killing animals like the bobcat was in Oklahoma. However, eventually, somehow, that small wild dog population got rabbis. The Japanese began even putting a bounty on that small wild dog population. There were professional bounty hunters who specialized in killing those dogs. Japan eradicated Japan of the deadly pests. They had become deadly rather than just dangerous, and the Japanese got rid of them!

Between the Japanese and the Koreans, they hunted these beautiful, majestic, dangerous Korean tigers to extinction. However, there are still tigers, just not in Korea anymore. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When the Japanese came to Korea, the Koreans were hunting the tigers, but they were still there. The human population was winning, and the Koreans really didn’t have plans to wipe the tiger population completely out. However, they were still hunting those tigers as a sport. The Japanese liked the sport, and they began hunting the tigers too. When Japanese do something, they get radical about it. They have to do it all the way!! Between the Korean hunters and the Japanese hunters, those tigers had no chance. They were wiped out during the Japanese occupation of Korea.

The tiger is the symbol of the Korean people. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You see lots of pictures of tigers in Korea because the tiger was such an integral part of their culture for thousands of years. To the Koreans, the tiger represents courage and absolute. They let the Korean tiger be the representation of the Korean people. Besides the many stories in their folklore about tigers, there are also many, many paintings of tigers in Korea. We brought home a beautiful, thick, fuzzy blanket from Korea with us that is beautiful because it has a big tiger on either side of it. A friend gave it to me.

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