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The Dokkaebi is a mythical being that appears in many old Korean folktales. Although usually frightening, it could also represent a humorous, grotesque-looking sprite or goblin. These creatures loved mischief and playing mean tricks on bad people and they rewarded good people with wealth and blessings. They are different from ghosts (귀신) in that they are not formed by the death of a human being, but rather by the transformation of an inanimate object.
Different versions of the Korean Dokkaebi mythology assign different attributes to them. In some cases they are considered harmless but nevertheless mischievous, usually playing pranks on people or challenging wayward travellers to a ssireum (Korean wrestling) match for the right to pass.
Most Dokkaebi carry a kind of club or mallet called a dokkaebi bangmang'i (도깨비 방망이). They are like magic wands, from which it can summon anything it wants. Unfortunately, when it gets something by using it, it gets things by "stealing" from someone else, because this bangmang'i can only summon existing things, and it doesn't create objects out of thin air.
Dokkaebi love to play games, especially ssireum as mentioned above. They are extremely good at it and one will never be able to beat them by trying to push them from the left side. However, they are very weak on the right side. In other stories one should hook their leg and push them to win, as they have only one leg.
Dokkaebi can also have a cap which is called dokkaebi gamtu (도깨비 감투). Its most well-known ability is that it gives the wearer invisibility.
Most Korean legends have Dokkaebi in the stories. They are about Dokkaebi pranking on mortals or punishing them because of their evil deeds. One of them is about an old man who lived alone in a mountain when a Dokkaebi visited his house. With surprise, the kind old man gave the Dokkaebi an alcoholic beverage and they become friends. The Dokkaebi visited the old man often and they had long conversations together, but one day, the man took a walk by himself in the woods near the river and discovered that his reflection looked like the Dokkaebi. With fear, he realized that he was gradually becoming that creature. The man made a plan to prevent himself from becoming a Dokkaebi and invited the creature to his house. He asked, "What are you most afraid of?" and the Dokkaebi answered, "I'm afraid of blood. What are you afraid of?". The man pretended to be frightened and said, "I'm afraid of money. That's why I live in the mountains by myself." The next day, the old man killed a cow and poured its blood all over his house. The Dokkaebi, with shock and great anger, ran away and said, "I'll be back with your greatest fear!" The next day, the Dokkaebi brought bags of money and threw it to the old man. After that, Dokkaebi never came back and the old man became the richest person in the town.
Although Dokkaebis doesn't have actual form, some people divides the kinds. These are common types.
Cham(true) Dokkaebi: A mischievous dokkaebi that looks like a big, hairy man.
Kimseobang(Mr. Kim, sometimes meaning human) Dokkaebi: A dumb dokkaebi that looks a like common farmer.
Not(day) Dokkaebi: Unlike other dokkaebis, these appear during the day. They are known to give Dokkaebi Gamtus to humans.
Gae Dokkaebi: Evil dokkaebis.
Go Dokkaebi: Dokkaebis known to be good at fighting and handling weapons, especially arrows.
Gwisu(monster) Dokkaebi: A monstrous Dokkaebi, known to lead a group of dokkaebis.
Gaksi(lady) Dokkaebis, Chonggak(young man) Dokkaebis: Dokkaebis known to attract humans.
Owinun(One Eye) Dokkaebis: A One-Eyed dokkaebi that is known to eat much.
Owidari(One-Legged) Dokkaebi: A One-Legged dokkaebi that likes to play Ssireum.
Duduri: Ancient, god-like dokkaebis.
And these are other Korean imaginary creatures that have a possibility of being dokkaebi.
Dueoksini: Evil monster or ghost that has red eyes.
Eoduksini: Dark monster. If you stare at it is will get bigger, but if you ignore it is will disappear.
Geuseundae: Similar with Eoduksini. When this thing sees light it disappears.
Pa-in Society of Korean Cultural Studies (파인민화연구소) http://www.minwha.co.kr/menu/dokkebi/main.php (Korean)