Hello, everyone. Welcome to “Korean Folktales.” This Monday corner takes you into the world of interesting Korean folk stories. I’m Jinny Na. Today, I’ll tell you the tale of a calf and an ox.
Once upon a time, there lived a farmer in a local village. He raised some livestock, including an ox. The ox worked hard all day long, pulling the plow through the field or working at a mill with a large millstone hung around his neck. The strong and faithful animal never complained of hard labor but obediently did everything his master said, in the hopes that he would be able to take a good rest some day. Every night, with this hope in mind, the ox would wearily return to a cowshed from a long and tiring day.
One night, as usual, the ox came back to the barn, completely exhausted, when he saw a new animal there. “Hello, I’m a calf. Nice to meet you, Ox.” It was a young, female calf. The ox was glad to see the new friend. He was also happy at the thought of sharing his work with her. “It’s good to meet you, too. Let’s try to get along here together.”
The next morning, the farmer entered the barn to bring the ox. Contrary to the ox’s expectations, though, the master only took the ox out, with the calf staying at the barn. The ox thought it was strange, but he believed that the master was letting the calf rest because it was her first day. But, the following day the same thing happened. Days passed by, but the calf never came out of the cowshed. The ox’s situation remained the same even though this new calf had arrived. The ox couldn’t understand why he had to toil all the time, while the calf did nothing but eat and sleep at the barn. What is worse, when the ox returned to the barn, the calf would tease him, “Ox, you look like hell. What did you do out there all day? Why don’t you just loaf around inside, like me? The master always gives me delicious grass and changes the bed with fresh straw. I love my life here.”
The ox was upset but he said nothing. Soon, he was used to the new situation where he did backbreaking work as he had always done, and the calf remained at the barn with the master taking good care of her.
A few weeks later, the farmer approached the cowshed and opened the door. The ox was ready to follow his master, as always. But this time around, it was the calf that the farmer dragged out of the shed. Having been fed well for weeks, the calf got pretty plump and had tender skin. The farmer softly said to the calf, petting her on her back, “Look at you, Calf. You’re fat and your skin has a good color. It’s time. We’re going to offer you as a sacrifice to worship the goddess of the soil.” The calf shrunk back in horror. She looked back, and her eyes met the ox’s for a split second. And then the poor animal was dragged away struggling and kicking. Now the ox realized why the farmer had treated the calf so well. The ox felt sorry for the calf, recalling her miserable eyes.
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, everyone.