Hello, everyone. Welcome to “Korean Folktales.” In this Monday corner, we introduce interesting Korean folk stories. I’m Jinny Na.
Once upon a time, there lived a king who wasn’t interested in governing his nation. Instead he enjoyed throwing parties every day. But before long, he became tired of his party lifestyle. One day, he refused to attend a banquet and asked one of his officials to tell him an amusing story instead. An official began his story, which is as follows:
A long time ago, a peony blossom ruled the flower world. As king, the peony blossom wanted to choose a loyal subject and appoint him or her as a high official in the court. Hearing the news, countless flowers from all around the country swarmed to the palace. In the court, every flower tried to show off its own value to appeal to the king. The crowd suddenly became silent, when a flower appeared. She was incredibly beautiful, and all those who were present were fascinated by her striking beauty. The flower introduced herself as rose. The king was captivated by the lovely rose. He exclaimed in admiration, “Oh, what a gorgeous flower! You have no equal in beauty.” The king felt inclined to pick the rose as his new subject. Just then, a feeble voice came from the end of the room. “Wait, Your Majesty. Please listen to me.” An old flower stepped out of the flowers. It was a pasque flower. She was stooped with age and her hair was grey. Every flower laughed at her, wondering what the old, ugly flower was doing there. The pasque flower slowly said to the king, “Your Majesty. I’m neither young nor pretty. But I’ve gone through many hardships since I’ve lived for a long time. I believe you can use my experience. I have much to tell you about how the world works.” The king thought the pasque flower was right. But he still couldn’t take his eyes off the beautiful rose. He imagined that he would be delighted to see the rose in his court every day. As if knowing what the king had in mind, the pasque flower continued to say, “We all know that wisdom is more worthy than beauty, and you should think of your people first.” These words touched the king deeply. “That’s right. It’s a shame that I was hesitating, even for a moment. A loyal subject’s sincere advice is more important than a good-looking official’s sweet comments. I do need a knowledgeable official like you, pasque flower.” The king finally selected the pasque flower as his highest official and it governed his nation well. Thanks to the wise king, the flower world enjoyed peace and prosperity.
When the official finished this story about the King of the Flower World, the king said, with a smile in his face. “That was really an instructive story. Now I can understand what you’re trying to say. I think I’ve made many mistakes when ruling my nation.” From then on, the king refrained from lavish feasts but focused on managing state affairs sincerely to make his nation a better place for his people to live. And he ordered the official to record the flower story so future rulers could learn from that story.
That’s it for today’s “Korean Folktales.” Thank you for listening. I’m Jinny Na. Goodbye, everyone.