While there are the famous dragon kings, it is important to realize that there were many dragon kings. Obviously, some were more famous then others. Most dragon kings were responsible for a particular region, although some were given other jobs. The Dragon Kings were usually water-dwelling dragons that were responsible for rainfall and the water in a particular region.

Another common factor in the dragon kings is that they are noted for their beauty and splendor. Most of these dragon kings lived under the water in palaces made of crystal. At their command, there were legions of sea creatures for soldiers and servants. [1]

However, the dragon kings were not all-powerful. They had to answer to the gods and their emissaries. [1] In Korea, the dragon king was not seen as very powerful, but this dragon still granted humans help, favors, and gifts.

Korean Dragon Kings

There are less stories of the Korean dragon kings that of the Japanese and Chinese dragon kings. The most popular story that involves one of the Korean dragon kings is the story of the Carp. A poor fisherman caught this Carp, and the Carp begged for its life so that he may return to his family. The fisherman obliged, and the Carp turned out to be one of the sons of the Dragon King, so the fisherman was rewarded greatly. [2]

Another story shows how the Korean dragon kings were not seen as powerful as the dragon kings of China or Japan. This story is a tale about an old turtle who was flipped over on his back by some wanton boys who were quite ready to sell him for profit. A man, passing by this turtle, scared the boys off and flipped the old turtle back on his feet. The turtle thanked the man and said that he was the dragon king, and he would give the man any help he would need in a return favor, all he had to do was return to the shore and call. Later, this man, wandering up a mountain, found a young witch who had taken over the mountain and expelled the mountain's protector. The witch ordered him to remain with her, but the hero asked her to give him some time to think. She gave it to him, and he returned to the shores to ask the Dragon King for help. Although the Dragon King tried twice to help the young man, he was unable to help him, for the witches power was too strong. So, the dragon king entreated a higher power, which struck the witch dead. [3]

Japanese Dragon Kings

The famous Japanese dragon king is Ryo-Wo, who is responsible for the element of water to the Japanese. He holds the Tidal Jewels, which controls the tides of the world. Furthermore, Ryo-Wo is also credited with giving the Jelly fish its shape, and his daughter, Otohime, was said to have married prince Hoori, a human. [10]

Ryo-Wo was also revered as the god of the sea, making him quite powerful in the eyes of the Japanese. He is also said to live in a grand palace beneath the waves called Ryugu. [5]

Chinese Dragon Kings

Lung Wang was said to be the Chinese Dragon king responsible for the element of fire. [8] Many speak of the four main dragon kings of China - Ao Ch'in (Ao Chin), Ao Jun, Ao Kuang, and Ao Shun. Together, these four dragon brothers controlled the waters of the world as well as the rain. Each of them controlled one sea, and the middle of these seas was the Earth. [1] The August Personage of Jade tells them where to distribute rain, too. During times of drought and times of flood, these dragon kings were sought out. [9]

Ao Kuang was said to be the king of the dragon kings. His son, Ao Ping, succeeded him as the king of the dragon kings. However, Ao Ping was killed by Li No-cha in a spiritual battle, for Ao Ping fought for the last emperor of the Shang dynasty, Chou Wang, in the Battle of Ten Thousand Spirits. (Note: This took place at the same time with the Battle of Mu, although that was an earthly battle, not a spiritual one.) No-cha then made a belt out of Ao Ping's tendons. After Ao Kuang learned of his son's death, he was quite angry at No-cha's rashness. Ao Kuang fought No-cha, but lost. After begging for mercy, No-cha spared him, but ordered Ao Kuang to transform into a blue snake. Despite his defeat, Ao Kuang is still revered as the most important dragon king. [5]

Another famous dragon king was known as the White Dragon, or Pai Lung. He was born of a young girl who was cast away from her family when they found she was pregnant. [9] When his flesh was thrown into the water, Pai Lung transformed into a giant white dragon, and a storm followed him. His mother died, and the local townsfolk revered her and buried her. They built a temple near her burial tomb, which Pai Lung is said to visit. [6]

Vietnamese Dragon Kings

The most famous story about the dragon king is actually more about his daughter. Slowcoach, a man, befriended a small animal named Cibet. Slowcoach had a nasty brother, who killed Cibet. Still, Cibet was buried beneath a tree, and whenever Slowcoach prayed there, silver rained upon him. Jealously, his brother cut down the tree. From the tree, Slowcoach made a bough, and, after his brother destroyed that as well, he made a fishing hook. [7]

When Slowcoach used the fishing hook, a young maiden, the daughter of the dragon king, appeared to him. She told him that he had hooked her father, and he wanted the hook removed. Slowcoach followed her and helped the dragon king. In thanks, Slowcoach received a blue fish which he left in his home. [7]

Now, this was not really a blue fish. Slowcoach learned this after a while, as every time he returned home, it was clean. Finally, he pretended to leave his house, then re-entered it, to find that the blue fish was actually the dragon king's daughter. To make her stay, he smashed the glass in which he kept the blue fish, and, as she told him to, he made bones for her. [7]

In jealousy, Slowcoach's brother attempted to receive a beautiful maiden from the sea. When he went into the water, however, the dragon king simply turned him into a fish. [7]


  1. Rose [Dragons] 105
  2. Dragon Carp
  3. In-sub Folk Tales from Korea
  4. Dragon King
  5. Piggott Japanese Mythology
  6. Dragon Kings. Link defunct: <>
  7. Mythological Dragon List. Link Defunct: <>
  8. Rose [Dragons] 230
  9. Rose [Dragons] 285
  10. Davis Myths and Legends of Japan

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.