Note: We were previously on Amino and are now copying all of our posts to this new location
Note: Vocab list is included at the end of the post
I’m just going to start with 저승사자 and go from there since that’s how all this started anyway ~
저승사자저승사자 is the Korean Grim Reaper. He is different from our Grim Reaper in appearance. However, when I inquired of Koreans it appears that both figures have the same function. They don’t do much other than appear to the dead, collect their souls, and escort them to the afterlife.
Going by the images, the 저승사자’s appearance tends to be a bit more human in nature. Not only this, but he is dressed in traditional Korean clothing. 저승사자’s defining feature is his 갓, the traditional hat worn by 양반.
The 저승사자’s 갓 doesn’t have any magical properties and functions in the same capacity as the western Reaper’s sickle. It’s more of a defining characteristic than a useful tool.
If you Google/Naver pictures for 저승사자 you will find pictures of 이동욱 in the drama ‘Goblin’.
You may notice that while his character is a modern type 저승사자, he is in fact NOT wearing a 갓. Put it down to the director’s artistic liberty.
However, what he IS wearing is a 도깨비 감투, a hat worn by the Korean goblin that grants its wearer invisibility. Sm00re2 talks about it in 🏻 this post 🏻
저승사자 Word Breakdown
저승사자 translates to something like Afterlife Messenger/Afterlife Death Man
저승 means afterlife
사자 literally means lion…BUT it is also a chinese character word. (Don’t judge my phrasing I’m just using the words that Koreans used when I asked them) the 사 part of 사자 implies death, and 자 implies man/male. So…. for 저승사자 its more like death man than lion.
Enough about 저승사자; let’s talk about the 갓
If you’ve seen any historical dramas then the 갓 likely looks familiar to you. It’s a hat that was worn by 양반 in Dynasty Era Korea.
양반 are the aristocrats of the time period and dressed as follows:
You may notice that I googled the terms ‘양반 복장’. 복장 refers to clothing, but more in the nuance that English speakers would use the term ‘dress’. It doesn’t apply to casual clothing and instead references things such as tradition clothing or formal attire.
Korean grim reaper
Afterlife (that life)
World of the living (this life)
Lion (chinese: 사 = death 자 = man)
Traditional hat worn by dynasty era aristocrats
A mischievous yet helpful Korean Goblin
A hat worn by 도깨비 that grants the wearer invisibility
Formal wear // traditional dress