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Kallie Szczepanski

North Korea Locates Goguryeo-Era Unicorn Lair

By December 1, 2012

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The qilin, or Chinese unicorn, symbolizes good luck and prosperity.

Sometimes, it's very difficult to tell whether the state media in North Korea is being serious. For example, today they announced that scientists have located the lair of King Dongmyeong's unicorn; the lair is in Pyongyang City, and a stone with the words "Unicorn Lair" carved into it stands in front of the entrance. Pretty convincing evidence, really.

King Dongmyeong was the founder of the Goguryeo Kingdom (277 BCE-668 CE). North Korea particularly emphasizes Goguryeo history because the kingdom's capital was also at Pyongyang, and it ruled over much of what is now North and South Korea, as well as parts of Manchuria.

To be absolutely correct, the word "unicorn" is a loose English translation. In fact, the creature in question is a qilin, a traditional East Asian mythical beast. The qilin is a symbol of good luck and prosperity, so King Dongmyeong (r. 37-19 BCE) must have been very lucky and prosperous indeed, since he rode one like a horse!

Photo by Rob Thurman on Flickr.com.

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