Hello, everyone. Welcome to “Korean Folktales.” In this weekly corner, I introduce you to interesting traditional Korean folk stories. I’m Jinny Na. Today’s tale tells us why a sparrow hops around and a fly rubs its two front feet together.
A long time ago, there was a sparrow who flew around here and there, pecking rice and catching insects. One day, a fly happened to buzz around the sparrow. The sparrow moved fast to catch it, but the insect quickly escaped and landed somewhere else. This happened again and again, and the sparrow was upset. But she didn’t give up until she finally caught him. The annoyed sparrow threatened the fly. “You annoying creature! I can swallow you in one bite or crush you completely.”
Then the fly yelled at the sparrow in protest. “I’m a weak, innocent fly. Why are you bullying me?” The sparrow sneered at the fly. “Innocent? Do you really think you are innocent? You always irritate people by buzzing around them. Worse yet, you walk in filth and you step on people’s food with your dirty feet to carry diseases. How dare you use the word ‘innocent’?” But the fly refused to back down. “What about you, Sparrow? You have no right to blame me. Have you ever done anything good to people? You steal rice from people, don’t you?” The sparrow was embarrassed at the fly’s unexpected attack. She bawled at the fly in anger. “No, I don’t steal rice. I just check if the rice is ripe or not.” The fly shouted back. “OK, then, why are you afraid of the scarecrow?”
The two continued to argue until they agreed to have a trial to see who is innocent. They went to a magpie who was known for his wisdom. They criticized each other in front of the magpie and asked him to make a fair judgment. After listening to the two, the magpie thought for a while.
He began to scold the sparrow first. “Sparrow, you teased an innocent insect and stole rice that people had harvested after a year of toil. But you don’t even feel guilty about that. You deserve punishment.” With these words, the magpie lashed the sparrow on the legs with a switch. The sparrow cried, hopping and hopping in pain. Now, the magpie turned his eyes to the fly, who was trembling in fear. The scared fly began to rub his two front feet together to beg the magpie’s pardon. “Oh, Magpie. Please forgive me.” The magpie took pity on the small creature. He said, “As far as upsetting people, Fly, you’re not much different from the sparrow. But you only eat small amounts of food, and I don’t think you carry any serious diseases. So I forgive you.”
Even to this day, the sparrow hops around all the time because of her aching legs. And the fly still has a habit of rubbing his two front feet when he rests, as if asking for forgiveness.
That’s it for today’s folk story. Tune in again next time for another interesting Korean folktale. Thank you for listening. I’m Jinny Na. Goodbye, everyone.