Hello, everyone. Welcome to “Korean Folktales.” This Monday corner takes you into the world of interesting Korean folk stories. I’m Jinny Na.
Once upon a time, a fox happened to see a quail in the forest. As the fox was very hungry, he was delighted to find something to eat. He swiftly pounced on the quail. “What a lucky day! I’m going to devour you.” The terrified quail said in a feeble voice, “Mr. Fox, I don’t think a small bird like me will fill your stomach. If you spare my life, I’ll definitely help you find something bigger and more delicious. Please have mercy on me.” The quail’s words made sense to the fox, so he set the bird free.
The freed quail approached a woman walking by. The woman was carrying a basket filled with food. When she saw the quail in front of her, she tried to catch the bird with one hand while still holding the basket with the other hand. The quail escaped, hopping around her. The lady put the basket down and chased the bird. The quail moved toward the forest, jumping up and down, to lure her. Of course, the quail was trying to buy time for the fox to eat the food in the basket. Thanks to the quail, the fox was able to eat his fill.
The quail came back to the fox and said that she could show him something very funny. The fox, now feeling good after enjoying the food, gladly agreed. Just then, two peddlers appeared, carrying jars on their backs. The quail flew down and perched on one of the jars carried by the first peddler who was walking ahead of the other. The second peddler then saw the quail and tried to hit her with a stick. The quail quickly flew up into the air, and the stick hit the jars instead, breaking them into small pieces. The first peddler was angry, so he took the stick from the second one and broke his jars too. The two then began to fight and the fox roared with laughter at the scene.
The quail returned and said to the fox, “This time around, I can show you something that will make you cry, how about that?” The fox nodded his head in agreement, as he believed that the quail would again keep her promise. The quail told the fox to dig a hole and go inside. Then, she covered the hole with soil in a way to only show the tip of the fox’s nose, on which the quail sat. A salt peddler who was passing by saw the quail. He tried to hit the bird with his wooden stick, but the stick hit the fox’s nose as the quail had already flown away. When the fox cried out in pain, the quail flew back and said, “See? That’s what made you cry.”
The fox was furious. He came out of the hole and caught the quail in his mouth. This time, he was determined to kill the nasty bird. The quail screamed, “Mr. Fox. It is only natural that you are mad at me. I deserve to die. But would you do me a favor before I die? I wish I can see my mother again one last time. She will be somewhere nearby. Please say ‘Mother’ in a loud voice.” The fox agreed and shouted “Mother!” As soon as the fox opened his mouth, the quail flew away. Stunned, the fox managed to grasp the quail’s tail with his mouth, and the droppings from the frightened quail fell on the fox’s nose. The shocked fox then lost his grip of the quail, and the bird quickly escaped.
Ever since then, it is said that a quail’s tail is short and stumpy, while the fur around a fox’s mouth is white.
That’s it for today’s “Korean Folktales.” Thank you for listening. I’m Jinny Na. Goodbye, everyone.