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Haetae (also spelled Haitai or Haechi) is a legendary creature in Korean mythology.

A picture of a haetae in Kyeongbok Palace

According to Korean records, Haetae's body is shaped like a lion and has a horn on its forehead. It has a bell in its neck, and the body is covered with scales. It lives in the frontier areas of Manchuria.[1]

Haetae sculptures were used in architecture during the early Joseon dynasty, as their image was trusted to be able to protect Hanyang (now Seoul) from natural disasters and to give law and order among the populace. There are two Haetae sculptures in front of the Kyeongbok palace, and it is because haetae is known to protect the Kyeongbok Palace from the force of fire in pungsu (fengshui in Chinese). Seoul city has officially used Haechi (origin of Haetae) as the symbol of Seoul since 2009.

Also, Haetae was known to be able to distinguish between good people and bad people and was often associated with justice and courts. During Joseon dynasty, the figure of Haetae was drawn in the uniforms of judges.

In English, it is called "the Unicorn-lion" or "an omniscient mythical beast".

A picture of a haetae


  1. ^ An Illustrated Guide to Korean Culture - 233 traditional key words by The National Academy of the Korean Language