Unicorn or Dragon? North Korea’s Mystery Lair

I just found this article online, reporting that the unicorn lair discovered in North Korea actually belonged to a creature with the body of a deer, the tail of a cow, and the head of a dragon—the “unicorn” idea was just an error of translation.

No, you didn’t read that wrong—the report of a unicorn’s den, resting place of ancient nobility’s special mount, really went out last week from the North Korean press (read the Fox news article here), only to have Korean scholars confess this week that they were mistaken—the inscription really gives the word for the mythical kirin beast.

So are they serious? The author of the Fox article calls the unicorn “symbolic,” saying that North Korea is gradually losing its “outlandish myths” that she accuses of being mere propaganda. Fewer people bothered to mention the correction to make it a dragon-headed creature. The Huffington Post dutifully reported the new facts and scholarly reports, but gives nothing but a final “Hmm” as a commentary.


Narwhals exist–are unicorns that much less likely? Image borrowed from Wikimedia Commons.

As interesting as it is to see North Korea claim the existence of strange creatures, I find it just as interesting that most of the world claims the opposite—that dragons, unicorns, and strange combinations thereof can’t have existed. I would like to know the why’s of either side—so, Korea, you found a lair… who says the legends are true and that a crazy combination like dragon-deer-cow could even be biologically possible? Did you find any physical evidence? Or you, skeptics—just because you have never seen a unicorn or a dragon doesn’t mean you ought to mock those who think they could have existed (Narwhals exist; why can’t unicorns?). On my part, I think the kirin is a far stretch, but I haven’t fully dismissed dragons and unicorns—I would just need a lot of good evidence instead of a lone rumor.

What do you think? Do North Korea’s findings come from delusions of old glory days of lore, or could the idea of unicorns be based in old reality? Is the kirin too much to believe? In your opinion, are dragons or unicorns more difficult to consider possible?

Categories: Eastern Tradition, Real Dragons | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Unicorn or Dragon? North Korea’s Mystery Lair

  1. Ha! That’s pretty darn cool. 🙂

  2. I read somewhere once that one of the ideas feeding into the myth of unicorns could have been picture of bulls in profile. Found this picture that will give you the general idea. – http://circusnospin.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/fighting-bulls-my-fantasy-herd.html

  3. Have you read Matt Kaplan’s Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite: The Science of Monsters? (I just started it last night, so I’m not very far in it myself). Very early in the book–chapter 2 maybe — he talks about how stories of monsters made up of various bits of creatures could be due to the fact that people find fossils from several creatures all jumbled together in one cave (or tar pit or clump of rock) and assume that the bones all belong to a single fantastically shaped creature, when in reality the bones belong to lots of animals collected in that place by a flood or a predator or some other scientifically-explainable occurrence.

    This North Korean story reminds me of that.

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