Hello, everyone. Welcome to “Korean Folktales.” In this Monday corner, we introduce interesting Korean folk stories. I’m Jinny Na. Today, I’ll talk about how a man let go of his greed for his most prized possessions.
Once upon a time, there lived a nice old man in a village. He had two beautiful pots with exquisite colors. He adored the ceramic pieces and treated them like precious treasure. The potteries always looked clean and shiny as the owner polished them with great care day and night. And he put them on the table in his room so no one could lay a finger on his valuable possessions.
One day, while the man was away, an old housemaid was cleaning his room. She wiped the floor of the room with a damp cloth, which left the floor wet. And shortly after, she slipped on the floor and her hand accidentally hit one of the potteries on the table. Alas! The pottery fell off the table and broke into pieces. The old lady cried out, “Oh no! What did I do?” Her heart was pounding wildly and her hands and legs were shaking with fear. She knew that her master was very attached to the potteries, and she felt like her whole world was collapsing. She began to cry bitterly, thinking she was doomed. Hearing the sound of crying, the master’s wife came in the room and saw the broken pottery. The wife, too, was surprised and shocked. But the tender-hearted woman began to comfort the housemaid. “It’s okay. Don’t worry.”
Later, the old man came back home to find one of his potteries missing. He asked his wife where the pottery was, and the wife said, “Honey, I’m very sorry. I broke it by mistake. Please forgive me.” Obviously, the generous woman was telling a lie to protect the poor maid. As expected, the man lost his temper and hit the ceiling, yelling at his wife. Then, the old lady knelt down before the man and apologized to him. “Master, it’s not her. I broke your pottery. I’ll accept any punishment.” The man was even more upset. He cried at the top of his voice in anger, stamping and screaming.
Suddenly, the old maid jumped to her feet and grabbed the other pottery. Without the slightest hesitation, she threw it on the floor, and the pot shattered into pieces. This happened in the blink of an eye, and everyone in the room was bewildered. The maid said, with tears in her eyes, “Sir, I’m a dead person anyway. It doesn’t make any difference whether I broke one or two pots. I’ll gladly take responsibility for all of it, so no one will be punished for any future accidents. I’m very sorry, sir.”
The old lady’s words struck the man speechless. While he remained silent, his wife said in a calm voice, “Honey, it’s true that she did something wrong. But it was just a mistake. She didn’t do that on purpose. And a pottery, no matter how expensive it is, cannot be more worth than a person’s life.”
The man didn’t say anything for a while and finally opened his mouth. “I think I was wrong. I’m sorry.” He now realized that even the finest things of all his belongings were not as important as a human being. From then on, the man no longer cherished his possessions, including ceramics, no matter how valuable they were.
That’s it for today’s “Korean Folktales.” I hope you enjoyed the story. Thank you for listening. I’m Jinny Na, saying goodbye.