Hello, everyone. Welcome to “Korean Folktales.” This Monday corner takes you into the world of interesting Korean folk stories. I’m Jinny Na.
Once upon a time, there lived a poor scholar. One day, his wife told him to sell hemp cloth she had woven and get some rice in return. His wife was a skilled weaver, so at the market, he sold the hemp cloth at a good price. The man felt happy at the thought of buying rice and other things as well. While roaming around the market, he happened to see an old man begging for food. No one paid attention to the shabby-looking beggar, but the scholar felt sorry for him. After some hesitation, the kind man gave the beggar all the money he had just earned by selling the hemp cloth, thinking that his wife could weave more.
The beggar said, with a smile on his face, “Thank you, sir. In return, let me give you some tips. First, do not proceed in a dangerous situation. Second, dance cheerfully if you’re scared of something. And lastly, crawl if someone welcomes you. Please remember these three things.”
On his way back home, the scholar tried to board a boat to cross the river. It was difficult to climb aboard because the small boat was already packed with people. The man was suddenly reminded of the word “dangerous” that the beggar had mentioned. So he decided not to board the ferry. Before long, a flurry of wind knocked the crowded boat over and the passengers fell into the water. Watching the scene from a distance, the scholar was astounded at the beggar’s prediction.
Before reaching his house, the scholar felt down as he imagined how disappointed his wife would be. He could not bring himself to tell her that he had given all the money to a beggar. He decided to gather some firewood and make up for the loss. So he turned back and went to the mountain. While collecting firewood deep in the mountains, he sensed someone approaching him from behind. When he looked back, he screamed in terror. A huge monster stood there, staring at him. The man was frightened to death, when he recalled the beggar’s advice, “Dance cheerfully if you’re scared of something.” He plucked up his courage and began to dance. To his astonishment, the monster also danced with him. Even more surprisingly, the monster became smaller and smaller and soon turned into a handsome man. He bowed to the scholar and politely said, “I was a gatekeeper of the heavenly king. I did something wrong and the king turned me into an ugly monster. The king said I could become his gatekeeper again only when a human danced with me. Thanks to you, I can return to my rightful place. Please dig under a rock over there and you will be rewarded.” With these words, the monster-turned-heavenly gatekeeper rose up to the sky and disappeared. The scholar dug under the rock, as instructed and he found wild ginseng. Again, the man was amazed at the beggar’s marvelous prediction.
When he returned home, his wife ran to greet him. Upon seeing his wife, he remembered the last tip—“Crawl if someone welcomes you.” He bent his knees and began to crawl on the ground when he saw a thief who was hiding in a narrow space under the floor. The thief knew he had been discovered and so he quickly rushed out of the house.
The scholar told his wife about the beggar and his three remarkable predictions. They sold the rare and priceless ginseng and made a fortune, all thanks to the man’s generous heart.
That’s it for today’s “Korean Folktales.” I hope you enjoyed the story. Thank you for listening. I’m Jinny Na. Goodbye, everyone.