Hello, everyone. Welcome to “Korean Folktales.” In this weekly corner, we introduce you to interesting traditional Korean folk stories. I’m Jinny Na. Today, I’ll talk about a king who learned the virtue of modesty from common people.

A long time ago, there lived a king who loved white rice. He was so fond of rice that he ate a bowl of cooked rice at every meal. One day, after enjoying a hearty meal of steamed rice, he went to the royal kitchen to express his gratitude to the chef who served him wonderful meals every day. “Chef, the rice you cook is incredibly good. I really enjoyed the meal today. Thanks to you, I eat delicious rice every day. I’ll grant you my gold ring in appreciation of your service.”

The chef reverently bent his head and said, “Your Majesty, I’m glad to hear that you liked your meal and I feel highly honored by your compliment. But the rice is delicious not because I cooked it well, but because the owner of the rice shop sold high-quality rice to me. I believe the rice seller deserves the gift.”

The king thought the chef’s words made sense. He summoned the rice supplier and offered to give him the gold ring as a reward. But the rice vendor humbly refused to receive it, saying that the credit should go to the miller who pounded and polished the rice so well. That sounded reasonable to the king, and he called the rice miller into the royal court. When the king was about to give him the ring, however, the miller shook his head. He told the king that all he did was simply get rice from a farmer who worked so hard to grow high-quality rice every year. He also said that it was the farmer who should be rewarded for cultivating the excellent rice.

This time, the king went out to the rice field himself and looked for the farmer the miller mentioned. He saw the farmer toiling on the field under the sizzling sun. He was impressed by the diligent farmer, who never complained of the hard work but only dedicated himself to his task. The king held the farmer’s hands and said, “Farmer, you’re doing a great job. Thanks to hard-working farmers like you, people across the entire nation can eat well. I want you to accept this gold ring as a small token of my gratitude.”

But the farmer, like the others the king had met, politely declined to receive the ring. “Your Majesty, we have a good harvest all thanks to Mother Nature. It is nature that brings rain and warm sunlight to the rice fields at the appropriate time so the rice can grow and ripen well. No matter how hard I work, I would not be able to reap an abundant harvest without nature. Mother Nature definitely merits praise and respect.”

The king was deeply touched by the chef, the rice seller, the miller, and the farmer, who were all humble and showed appreciation to someone else. He gave a big prize to all of them, as they taught him a great lesson. From then on, the king made even more effort to govern his nation wisely and properly.

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.