Hello, everyone. Welcome to “Korean Folktales.” This Monday corner takes you into the world of interesting Korean folk stories. I’m Jinny Na.
There is a red, wild flower known as Lobate Campion, which is called Dongja Flower in Korean. Today, I’ll tell you about the sad legend associated with this flower and how the flower got its name “dongja,” meaning child monk.
A long, long time ago, there lived a Buddhist monk and a young boy at a temple deep in the mountains. The old monk took pity on the little boy who had lost his parents and decided to raise him as a child monk.
One cold winter day, the old monk went down to the village to get some rice. He promised the young boy that he would come back as soon as possible. After the monk left, the boy stood outside, waiting for him to return. That day, it snowed all morning and continued to snow through the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the old monk reached the village and asked village people for donations. The kind villagers offered the monk rice and food. He was happy at the thought of sharing the food with his little boy. He left the village in a hurry to return to the temple. Unfortunately, it had snowed so much that the mountain path to the temple was blocked. Worse yet, it was still snowing heavily and the winter storm showed no signs of abating anytime soon. The monk was worried about the young boy who was all alone at the temple. He struggled through the snow to climb the mountain, but his legs kept sinking deep into the snow. Some village people followed him and persuaded him to stop. “Monk, please do not proceed. It’s too dangerous. The trail has already been covered by the snow. If you keep moving, you’ll get lost and buried in the snow. Please wait until the snow stops.” The monk was deeply concerned about the boy, but it was simply impossible to move forward. He had no other choice but to wait.
At the temple, the boy was still standing outside, wondering when the head monk would return. He felt cold and tired, but he never went inside. He just kept looking down the mountain path hoping to catch sight of the monk. In the meantime, snow continued to gather on his head.
When the snow finally stopped, the old monk hastily returned to the temple. But alas, the boy had already frozen to death at the entrance of the temple. The monk cried bitterly but it was too late. He buried the body of the poor boy in a nice, sunny spot near the temple and prayed for the soul of the deceased.
The following summer, beautiful, red flowers began to bloom at the tomb site where the boy was buried. People believed that the flower represented the spirit of the ill-fated boy who waited for his beloved monk until his death. They began to call it “Dongja Flower,” meaning “child monk flower.”
That’s it for today’s “Korean Folktales.” Tune in again next time for another Korean folk story. Thanks for listening. I’m Jinny Na. Goodbye, everyone.