Dragon King of the Sea

Dragon kings appear in the mythology of various East Asian people; they may or may not be the same spirit. Although there are many dragon spirits resident in the sea, the Dragon King is their chief, lord, and master.

The Dragon King is the lord of water; he controls precipitation and thus helps or hinders agriculture. He controls sea waters, stilling them as desired or raising storms. He remains an important deity for sailors and those who fish or otherwise ply the waters. He is not limited to salt water but has dominion over rivers, too.

According to Chinese myth, the Dragon King of the Sea lives in a beautiful underwater palace. Crabs and lobsters serve as his courtiers. In Korea, the Dragon King is the complementary power to the Mountain Spirit: they represent yin and yang respectively (in Korean: um and yang). Even though the Dragon King is male, he epitomizes um.

The Dragon King has a beautiful daughter, often depicted in human form riding a dragon similar to images of the Japanese goddess, Benten. The Dragon King and his family are master magicians and transformation artists: they are not restricted to only one form.

The Dragon King of the Sea is a pre-Buddhist spirit. Since the ascension of Buddhism, Kwan Yin has assumed many of his responsibilities and powers. The Dragon King is of en depicted serving Kwan Yin or being subservient to her, although whether or not this is true is subject to debate.

A method of requesting the Dragon King’s aid or sending him a message involves feeding fish:

• Whisper your message, needs, or desires over bread.

• Feed this bread to river or ocean fish.

• Tell the fish to please deliver your message to the Dragon King of the Sea.


East Asia


Flaming pearl, red coral branch


The Dragon King of the Sea lives in an underwater palace formed from coral. The exact location is subject to speculation: arguments are made for the East Sea (Sea of Japan) or the East China Sea (Yellow Sea).

Sacred date: Taeborum, the Dragon Festival, is celebrated in Korea on the first full moon of the lunar calendar. The Dragon King is invoked and honoured at the harbor. Women wade into the river to launch miniature boats bearing lit candles. Written wishes and messages to the Dragon King are attached to the boats.


  • Benten
  • Dragon Queens
  • Mountain Spirit
  • Ryujin
  • Tamatori-Hime
  • Toyotami-Hime


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.