Friday, October 24, 2008
Another Old Korean Tale
When I was 10, my mother told me this interesting old Korean folk tale. Here's how it went:
Once upon a time, there was a poor old hard working widow who had 3 rude, selfish, inconsiderate children. These nasty children never listened to their mother, who worked so hard washing laundry to put food on the table. This was long ago, before washing machines, so the mother would have to take the hanboks down to the river bank. The collars would need to be unstitched and washed and then restitched. She would bang the clothes in the freezing cold water with large stones, wringing them over and over, her back aching as she squatted by the muddy bank. After a hard days work, she would come home to find the house as dirty as when she left it. (At this point, my Mom gave me a very meaningful look. Unfortunately, at the time, I did not understand the meaning.)
Her selfish children would do the opposite of whatever she asked of them. If she said to clean the house, the house would be dirtier. If she asked them to go to the river, they'd go to the hills. If she asked them to go to the village, they would go to the woods. They never listened to her. The old widow worried about what would happen to her children who were so terribly naughty.
One day, the old widow became very ill and knew she did not have long to live. She worried about what would happen to her. After all, her children always did the opposite of what she asked, and she very much wanted to be buried in the mountains next to her husband. So she called her three children to her bedside and she said, "When I die, do not bury me in the mountain next to your father, but throw me into the river."
Then she died. The 3 selfish children began to cry and feel terribly guilty for all the grief they gave their mother while she was alive. For once, they decided, they would do exactly what she wanted. And even though they felt it was not a good idea, the 3 selfish children threw their poor mother's body into the river, where it got eaten by the fish and crabs.
"Blech! That's horrible!" I said. My Mom ignored me and continued with her story.
The 3 selfish children sat by the riverbank weeping and weeping as it began to rain. They finally realized that they had once again done the wrong thing. And as punishment for all their wrongs, they were turned into 3 little green frogs who would forever cry whenever it rained.
"So what is the moral of the story?" My Mom asked.
"The moral of the story is don't be stupid. Like the Mom. Boy was she stupid!" I said.
We now pause for a ten minute penalty break.
After ten minutes of playing "hold the broom over your head or you will get beat with it," we returned to the moral of the story.
"So what is the moral of the story?" My Mom asked again.
I rubbed my sore arms. (Hey a broom may be light, but if you have to hold it with straight arms over your head, keeping the broom absolutely straight for ten minutes, you would be sore too!) Fuming mad, I gave my Mom a nasty glare and muttered, "Stupid frogs..."
We conclude this story with a lively game of chase the sassy kid with a broom while Mom berates the heavens for sending her a naughty frog child.
The moral of the story is never say stupid to a Mom wielding a broom.