Two love stars, Kyonu and Jingnyo

Kyonu and Jingnyo in Koguryo mural tomb. (Photo Credit Uriminzokkiri)

"The legend of Kyonu and Jingnyo" about the Altair in the constellation Aquila and the Vega in the constellation Lyra is a legendary heritage of the Korean people from olden times.

A Koguryo mural tomb in Tokhung-ri constructed in 408 has pictures of Kyonu and Jingnyo entitled with Appearance of Kyonu and Appearance of Jingnyo, showing that the legend was already wide spread among the Koguryo people at the time.

According to the legend, there lived a kind-hearted pretty girl in the stellar world called Jingnyo meaning weaver girl as she was skilled at the loom. She was in love with Kyonu, a hard-working cowboy. The king of the stellar world came to know the fact. Calculating that it would be hard to work them freely if they lived near to each other, he separated them far off, and allowed them to meet only once a year, on the night of July 7 of the lunar calender. So, Jingnyo wove on the east of the Galaxy while Kyonu raised cattle on the west. Since then the two stars twinkling alone separated on each side of the Galaxy have been called Jingnyo and Kyonu stars.

Kyonu and Jingnyo set apart tens of millions of miles from each other across the Galaxy wait tearfully for the day, July 7. Finally the day comes round, but they cannot meet; they just look at each other over the Galaxy which lies between them so vast and deep. In anguish they keep shedding tears. Their tears bring heavy rainfalls on the earth, causing a big trouble to the people because it is the time when cereals grow ripe. Now, the people come to know all about it and send crows and magpies to fly through the sky to the Galaxy to build a bridge across it. This helps the two love stars to cross the Ojak (Crow-Magpie) Bridge and have an emotional reunion. After that, on July 7 of the lunar calendar every year, no magpies can be seen on the earth, for all of them have gone to the Galaxy to lay a bridge. And it is said that the rainfall in the morning of that day is the tears of sigh shed by the two stars with the Galaxy between, the rain in the afternoon is the tears of joy of meeting, and the rain in the evening is of sorrow of separation.

Reflecting beautiful human feelings, this tradition has been handed down from olden times among the people and recreated in various styles of literary art like poem. The Legend of Kyonu and Jingnyo has been so well-known among the Korean people that the term Ojak Bridge has come to stand for love affairs. A typical example of this is that in the classical novel The Tale of Chun Hyang, the heroine Chun Hyang meets her love Ri Mong Ryong on a bridge and that the bridge is named Ojak Bridge.

(Uriminzokkiri - December 10, 2020)

"To Jingnyo" Poem Mun Pyong Ran, Music Pak Mun Og, Song Kim Won Jung

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