Hello, everyone. Welcome to “Korean Folktales.” In this weekly corner, we introduce you to interesting Korean folk stories. I’m Jinny Na. Today, I’ll talk about how a food lover turned into a hero.
Once upon a time, there lived a man who ate a lot. He was such a big eater that he ate cooked rice in a large pot, not in a bowl. His parents could not afford to feed their son who ate like a horse at every meal. One day, his father said to him, “Son, you’re old enough to earn your own living. Come back home only after you have learned to take care of yourself.”
So, the son left home and set out on a journey. By the time he reached the next village, he became hungry. While he was wondering how he could get some food, he heard village people murmuring about a tiger. They were very afraid of a tiger that would come down to the village every night and attack people. The hungry man asked them if they would give him some food when he caught the animal. The villagers said yes but they didn’t really expect the stranger to catch the ferocious beast. The man went to the mountain, bringing a shovel and some sesame oil with him. He dug a deep pit with the shovel and climbed up a tree nearby. Then he applied the sesame oil on the tree. The night came, and the tiger appeared. Attracted by the aromatic smell of the sesame oil, the animal tried to jump onto the tree, which was covered with the oil. The tiger slid off the slippery tree and fell down into the pit the man had dug. The tiger’s head hit the bottom of the pit with a thud. The next morning, the man brought village people to the pit, where the tiger lay dead. The villagers were overjoyed and they treated the brave man with all kinds of delicious food, as promised. He ate as full as his stomach could hold and took off again.
The food lover moved on to another village and he stopped at a roadside inn to ask for some food. The owner of the inn said, “Sorry, sir. There is no food left here because a band of thieves has been robbing the whole village for days. Tonight, they will be here again. It’s only a matter of time before we all starve to death.” Now the young man understood why the local residents looked unhappy. He hit upon an idea and asked for help from villagers, who were willing to do anything to drive away the thieves. That night, as expected, a group of bandits came stampeding into the town, when the man stopped them at the entrance of the village. He shouted at them, “Go away! My soldiers are over there, ready to attack you guys. If you refuse to leave, they will slaughter you brutally.” At first, the thieves laughed at the man. But they were startled to see torches flaring in the distance. In fact, the man had instructed the village people hours earlier to hold torches up high and let out a yell when he started shouting. From a distance, the thieves could not see people in the pitch dark. They could only see a lot of flaming torches and hear the roar of the crowd. When the frightened bandits were about to leave, the man yelled at them again. “Don’t even think about coming here again!” The villagers were delighted to see the thieves leave, hopefully for good. Sure enough, the man was given an enthusiastic welcome by the people who called him a hero.
Now, the glutton had learnt how to feed himself. He would help people solve their problems and obtain food and even money in return. He was happy at the thought of returning home to see his parents again and show them what he earned by himself.
That’s it for today’s “Korean Folktales.” Tune in again next time for another interesting Korean folk story. Thank you for listening. I’m Jinny Na. Goodbye~