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 share the story of a man who lost what he had after being too greedy.
Once upon a time, a man lived with his old mother deep in the mountains. The devoted son loved his mother dearly and served her with all his heart. He would plant various flowers in the backyard, and his mother was happy to see the beautiful flowers in full bloom. When he went to the market, he never forgot to get some delicious food for his mother. While gathering firewood in the mountains, he would also pick wild grapes, berries, and hazelnuts as treats for his mother. During winter, he stoked up the fire in the fireplace with wood he collected himself so his mother could stay warm. The family was poor but they lived happily and peacefully together.
One hot summer’s day, the man headed to the market to sell his firewood. While passing through a mountain path, he stopped to rest for a moment. He was exhausted due to the scorching heat and the heavy wood he was carrying on his back. He was also extremely thirsty. Looking around, he found a small fountain nearby where clear spring water poured forth. He gladly gulped down water from the bubbling spring. The water was ice-cold, sweet, and refreshing. He was full of energy again and went to the market to sell all of his firewood. On the way back home, he dropped by the same spring and drank from it again. From that day on, he would drink the sweet and fresh spring water while going back and forth between his home and the market. Incredibly, he wasn’t tired at all after drinking the water.
Soon, he thought it would be nice to share the energizing water with others. Then, he thought it would be even better to make some money from it. He set up a fence around the spring and began selling the spring water to passers-by. “Look! The water here is ice-cold, sweet, and fresh. Why don’t you try it?” As expected, the spring became immensely popular and the man was able to earn a lot of money.
He no longer had to collect firewood since he had enough money now. As he didn’t go to the mountains, he didn’t gather wild grapes or berries anymore. Back at home, his mother could no longer enjoy these treats. The flowers in the backyard all withered away because her son was too busy to take care of them. In the winter, she felt cold at home because he had no time to cut firewood for her. Furthermore, he was too busy to heat her room. Every day, he was so busy selling the spring water, collecting money, and wondering what to do with his new-found wealth, that he almost forgot about his old mother.
His water business flourished with more and more people coming to the spring. There were so many people that they complained of having to wait too long to drink a cup of water. The man wondered how to give water to such a large number of people quickly. He decided to dig up the spring, thinking that he would get more water if the water hole was bigger. He kept digging into the spring, feeling happy at the thought of a luxurious house, nice clothes, and a beautiful wife. But suddenly, the bubbling spring was slowly swallowed up into the ground until it dried up. “No!” The man screamed and wailed, but there was nothing else he could do, except helplessly watch the spring turn to dust. As the spring was gone, all the people disappeared too. The man trudged back home, where his mother was waiting for him.
That’s it for today’s “Korean Folktales.” Tune in again next time for another Korean folk story. Thank you for listening. I’m Jinny Na. Goodbye, everyone.