Origins of Alcohol in Myth and Legend

은은한 향기와 감칠맛 그리고 깨끗함

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Liquor is first mentioned in Korean literature in the Chewang-ungi, a history of the founding of the nation by King Dongmyongsong. The story is found in the Kosanguksa, as follows: "Three daughters of Habaek, named Yu Hwa, Son Hwa and Wi Hwa, seeking to escape the heat, were playing at the Ungsim pond in the Chung River (now known as the Apnok River). Prince Haemosu was struck by their beauty, and sent a vassal to ask them to meet him. But they refused. Therefore, on the advice of his vassal, Prince Haemosu built a stately palace and invited them to meet him there. The three women accepted his invitation and were treated to liquor, whereupon they became extremely drunk. When they attempted to leave, Haemosu tried to stop them and appealed to them to stay. Two of them ran away, but Haemosu seized Yu Hwa, and kept her there to sleep at the palace. Eventually, she fell in love with him, and gave birth to Prince Jumong. Jumong is said to have later founded the kingdom of Koguryo, as King Dongmyongsong."
  • A legend about a bird
    In the period of Emperor Chonju, a man named Jukyu lived in the town of Kubuto. There, he grew a lot of bamboo. One day he smelled something strange at a bamboo stump, and examined it closely. Birds had picked rice and deposited it in the hollow stump, where it fermented and became alcohol. This was the origin of liquor.
  • The Legend of Mijanojon
    According to the Daehwasashi, an old record of Japan, in the period of Shinhwa, a man named Mijanojon traveled to Silla and learned how to make wine. It is said this was in the Uduri neighborhood, Shinbuk district of Chunsong (the modern city of Chunchon).
  • The Legend of Mokhwasobimae
    It is written that Mokhwasobimae made wine by chewing the rice in his mouth before fermentation. This was believed to be the first primitive method of brewing alcohol. 80 years ago, this method was reportedly used in the village of Binamsa, Dongsaan, Taiwan. Four or five girls sat together and chewed a little steamed rice, then spat it out. In a day, this would turn into a sweet drink. This could be drunk directly, or allowed to sit and ferment.
  • The Legend of Susugori
    Susugori, who is enshrined as a god of wine to this day, went from Paekche to Japan to teach how to make alcohol. This appears to be an actual historical record, rather than legend. In the Eungshin Chunhwangjo, the middle book of Kosagi, it is written that Susugori, the great-grandson of a weaver named Kung Wol Kun, went to Japan and demonstrated to Emperor Eungshin how to brew alcohol. The emperor's disposition improved after drinking the alcohol, and he sang the following song: "I got drunk on the wine Susugori made I got drunk on peaceful and pleasant wine" Susugori was a brewer. Brewing methods appear to have been relatively advanced at that time. The distilling equipment used to filter alcohol is called "gori." This may be connected with Susugori's name, "God of Wine."
The first record of alcohol is in the Yosshichunchu part of the Book of China. This old book of China records 240 years of history, from King An until Emperor Jin. "A long time ago, the emperor's daughter Ui Jeok brewed a delicious wine and presented it to King Woo (in the Ha period). After he tasted the wine, he said, 'Stop drinking this and avoid Ui Jeok. It is certain that in future generations, this drink will cause a man to ruin his nation.'" This tells us that there was already alcohol in China as early as 2000 B.C.
Dionysus is said to be the inventor of wine. The Roman name for Dionysus is Bacchus, and wine was known as Bacchus' magic art. For this, Dionysus was remembered by future generations. One day, Dionysus discovered wine while playing on Mt. Nisa. He returned to Greece and gave Icarius the wine, and taught him how to make it. Celebrating, Icarius offered the marvelous wine to nearby herders. They drank more and more of the sweet-tasting wine, until they had drunk too much and became dizzy. Believing that Icarius had poisoned their drink, they killed him. For this, Icarius is known as the first martyr of wine. Even now, in the Greek province of Akara, they perform the Dionysan Sacrifice, or "country sacrifice," in which an offering of wine is sacrificed to the god. Greek classical drama developed from this ritual.
It is said that Noah brewed the world's first alcohol when he made wine. According to the Old Testament, there was a deluge that flooded the entire world in Noah's time. Noah made an ark to carry his family and the progenitors of all other living things, preserving life on Earth. They say that God taught Noah how to cultivate grapes and make wine. Also, in the New Testament, before Jesus Christ was crucified, he shared wine with his disciples at the Last Supper.
    It is said that Osiris, the god of heaven and Earth, and husband of the great goddess Isis, taught men how to brew beer from barley.
    Bacchus, said to have been the first winebrewer, was the Roman god of wine. (Bacchus was the Roman name for the Greek god Dionysus -- see above.)