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Kumiho : The 9 Tailed Fox


At a glance

Origin Korean Mythology
Classification Animals
Family Members N/A
Region South Korea
Associated With Shape Shifting, Evil



A kumiho is a creature that appears in folktales and legends of Korea which is similar to the Chinese Huli Jing and the Japanese Kitsune. It can transform into a pretty woman who is set out to seduce boys and eat their liver or heart. There are numerous tales in which the kumiho appears, several of which can be found in the encyclopaedic Compendium of Korean Oral Literature.

This animal’s true form is believed to be a nine-tailed fox which unlike other fox spirits, kumiho does not possess spirit possession. Instead, it only kills and consumes its victims. Although young virile men are her favourite prey, stories sometimes describe Kumiho snacking on children.

It’s believed that if the kumiho’s true identity is revealed, she will start running away. Dogs can see through the Kumiho’s disguise and will be hostile toward her.

Physical Traits

In Korean mythology, kumiho is a nine-tailed fox that can assume the appearance of a young and beautiful woman. Despite this, it still has characteristics similar to a fox. For instance, its eyes and paw-like features still remain the same.

Powers and Abilities

Unlike in China and Japan, kumiho are almost always evil. In Korean mythology, this animal is considered amoral. Kumiho can also use the magical yeowoo guseul marble in their mouths to absorb people’s vital energy via a “deep kiss” of sorts. However, if someone is able to take and swallow the Kumiho’s yeowoo guseul marble during that kiss, the person not only won’t die but will get incredible knowledge of the “sky, land, and people”.

Although ancient legends indicated that kumiho could help humans, in modern times, these animals are known to eat human livers and hearts. They usually carry out their evil acts by tricking people into consuming their organs.

Unlike Japanese kitsunes, which are portrayed as having multiple tails and magical abilities, kumiho is a nine-tailed creature all throughout their lives. According to Korean mythology, if a kumiho doesn’t eat human flesh for a thousand years, it might transform into a human. This is because the animal’s soul can still seek human flesh.

Modern Day Influence

Aside from being in anime and manga, nine-tailed fox characters have also been featured in video games and television shows. Due to their similarities to other mythological creatures such as the Huli Jing and Kumiho, it’s hard to determine which one is the inspiration for a character.

One particular character that has been featured in video games is Ahri, a character from League of Legends. Although she has long fox tails and beautiful eyes, she doesn’t seem to have fox paws on her feet.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does a kumiho do?

The Kumiho can shapeshift into a beautiful woman to lure men into their trap. They then eat the organs like liver and heart of the victims.

Is kumiho and kitsune same?

No. The kumiho is a Korean evil being with predatory intentions towards humans while the kitsune is a Japanese creature that althogh similar does not possess the natural evil tendencies of the Kumiho.

Is Kumiho male or female?

The Kumiho is neither male or female and can take up the shape of either male, female or hermaphrodite to achieve their objectives.

Does Kumiho harm humans?

Yes. The Kumiho are evil beings that harm and eat human beings.

In which movie did a kumiho appear?

The Kumiho was shown in the Marvel movie Shang Chi although it is argued that it was the Chinese version or Gumiho.


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