Bears have a prominent place in the Korean creation myth: Ungnyeo was the name of a bear that turned into a woman, who gave birth to Dangun, the legendary first Korean king. So really, Ungnyeo the bear-woman was the mother of the Korean people.
However, the creation myth states that a tiger also wanted to be turned into a human, and it prayed together with Ungnyeo to be turned human, but gave up due to hunger. By this story alone, tigers should be less revered in Korean culture than bears, but the reverse is so: tigers are much more revered, some sources saying that South Korea's national animal is the tiger (as the bald eagle is for USA), and the mascot for the 1988 Seoul olympics was a tiger.
Whilst I'll admit tigers are much cooler than bears, it doesn't explain the conspicuous absence of bears in Korean culture, when compared to the tiger. Did bears lose their status at some point in history? Or sexism? Or is there more to Korean mythology that would cause people to lose respect for bears?