June 9, 2023

Don’t Call Him Godzilla

The villagers seem hesitant to give you directions through the mountains, but you are able to coax the local blacksmith into pointing you down the right path. Everyone seems on edge, and there are vague warnings of something that lurks in the surrounding hills. The blacksmith eyes your full plate armor and says that you should be fine. 

You make camp among the trees and drift peacefully off to sleep, lulled by the crackle of the fire and the chirp of crickets. 

But the tranquility is short lived. 

You’re awoken by what feels like an earthquake, a shaking in the ground that grows stronger and stronger, coming from everywhere. 

And then you see it, a giant bull-like head looming high above the trees. A creature covered in black fur and gold scales looms high above you, its giant brown eyes eerily human and focused on you. It reaches down, slow and clumsy and utterly unavoidable. 

Get ready to rumble because Pulgasari has found you. 

The kind way to describe this kaiju is “inspired by Godzilla.” The honest way to describe it is “a total Godzilla knockoff.” It is loosely inspired by a real Korean creature, the Bulgasari, but the film version is absolutely an attempt to recreate the success of the Godzilla franchise in the interest of growing the North Korean film industry. The film is now banned in North Korea, so tough to call it a success. However, the creature itself is very different from everyone’s favorite kaiju. 

Pulgasari is made from rice and mud, sculpted as the last action of a dying man wrongfully imprisoned by a cruel government. His daughter pricks a finger on a needle, accidentally spilling blood on the tiny totem and bringing it to life. The little Pulgasari immediately begins eating sewing needles, growing bigger with a voracious appetite for more metal. 

There’s no known limit to the size Pulgasari can reach. As long as there’s metal to eat, this monster can keep growing, big enough to smash cities and wipe out armies. His violence isn’t random, though, he is loyal to the woman whose blood brought him to life so he fights on the side of the downtrodden villagers against the corrupt and evil regime. Threatening his life-giver is enough to exert control over the big beast temporarily, though attempts to attack him prove to be pretty futile. Burning the creature backfires, just superheating his scales and adding heat to the list of threats. Shooting him with cannons just seems to irritate him, and he ends up eating the cannonballs and shooting them back. The bad guys think up a grand plan that includes digging a huge pit that he’ll fall into and then burying him with rocks, aptly pointing out that “it’s movements are very clumsy.” The pit plan slows the creature down, aided by an exorcism that disorients Pulgasari enough to trick him into falling into a giant hole. Does it work? Sure, for a little while. 

But is there a better way to defeat the beast than grandiose and convoluted plans? 

The key seems to be in finding the person who helped bring Pulgasari into this world. They can help sway the creature, though that will only get you so far—the creature’s hunger for metal ultimately overrides all other loyalties. Pulgasari is ultimately defeated by being tricked into eating its creator, who sacrifices herself when she realizes that his hunger knows no bounds. She understands the havoc that Pulgasari will wreak on the world, and that after he has eaten all of the village’s metal, he will eat all of the metal in Korea, and then move from country to country, endlessly devouring resources. Hopefully you’ll find the creature’s creator has the same concern about the future, or can be persuaded to help stop this metal-munching monster. 

Dex Dylan is the founder and acting president of the International Society of Astrocryptozoology. For decades, Dex has scoured the skies and seas (and sometimes the land, but honestly it’s so crowded) for hints of unusual life forms, and has done extensive research into the possible existence of chupacabras on Mars.