A Kumiho is a type of fox spirit. Like her compatriots, the Japanese Kitsune and Chinese Huli Jing, the Kumiho is associated with rampant, unbridled female sexuality. Unlike other types of fox spirits, however, there is nothing ambiguous about the Kumiho. Korean lore paints her as a wholly negative spirit.

“Kumiho” literally means “nine-tail”. The true form of this spirit is believed to be a nine-tailed fox spirit. Unlike other types of fox spirits, the Kumiho rarely, if ever, engages in spirit possession. Instead she murders her victims. Sometimes she even eats them. Although young virile men are her favourite prey, stories sometimes describe Kumiho snacking on children.

The Kumiho transforms into the guise of a sexy, seductive woman in order to capture her prey and then vampirically drains male life essence (yang energy) during sex. She may vampirically drink blood, too. Encounters with the Kumiho tend to be fatal. Some Kumiho are stealth operators as in the legend of the Kumiho who disguised herself as a beautiful woman and married a Chinese emperor’s son. She successfully maintained her disguise with her husband and his family but meanwhile young male members of the court began to mysteriously disappear.

Legends suggest that the Kumiho will desist and flee if her true identity is exposed. Apparently, in the dark, the Kumiho is indistinguishable from human women. A good, long look at her in the hard light of day will reveal her foxy characteristics. Dogs can see through the Kumiho’s disguise and will be hostile toward her. Once the Kumiho suspects that her cover is blown, she will usually run away. Appeals to Inari may serve to protect against the Kumiho.





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.

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