[FOUNTAIN]As the 3-legged crow fliesA raven is an ominous bird, a sign of evil. Its sin might be the color of its body. To add another sin, the raven has a habit of scavenging and eating dead human bodies. Aesop accused the raven of coveting the feathers of other birds, effectively hurting its reputation. The raven must feel frustrated and wrongfully accused, but it is no reason to feel a grudge toward humans, who discriminate against their own species based on color. It is also not right to consider the crow to be as dumb as a bird. Its intelligence matches the dolphin.
Bernd Heinrich realized the intriguing quality of crows early on. He devoted 20 years to researching the bird. He built a cabin in the woods in Maine in the northeastern part of the United States near Canada and raised crows as if they were his own children. He made a detailed record of the behavior of the crows as they enjoyed bathing and sliding in the snow, made holes in their nests in hot summer days and flew backward for fun and to deceive one another. He concluded that the crow is the species whose behavior is the most similar to humans.
In ancient mythology, the raven was an object of worship. Odin, the chief god in Northern European mythology, had two ravens sitting on his shoulders, one representing his eyes and mind and the other symbolizing his memories. In ancient China, the three-legged crow represented the sun. The three-legged crow appears in the “Huainanzi,” or “The Masters of Huainan,” which contains the sentence, “A crow is in the sun.” A note was added during the Han Dynasty that Emperor Yao ordered his soldier Yi to shoot 10 suns with arrows. Nine were shot down. The three-legged crows in the nine suns were killed, and only one sun survived.
The three-legged crow is also a symbol of Dangun Joseon. According to Seoul National University’s professor emeritus Shin Yong-ha, they were the three sun gods symbolizing Hwanin, the legendary Lord of Heaven, his son Hwanung, and Dangun, Hwanung’s son and the founder of Gojoseon. The Institute for Traditional Korea Culture Studies defines the three-legged crow as a symbol of heaven, earth and man, and a messenger of the Korean soul.
The spirit was continued in Goguryeo but has been lost. Recently, the three-legged crow has made a comeback, as a symbol of Goguryeo steadfastly standing against the Northeast Asia Project of the Chinese government. Civilian groups plan to promote wearing a three-legged crow badge, hoping that 10 million Koreans will participate in the cause. I hope it’s not too late for the resurrection of the three-legged crow.
by Yi Jung-jae
The writer is a deputy business news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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