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 tell an amusing story about a man’s encounter with a goblin and their wrestling match.
A long time ago, a man went to the marketplace and bought some food and daily necessities. At the market, he happened to meet an old friend. The two men were glad to see each other again after quite a while and they drank together at a bar. After having a good time with his friend, the man headed back home.
While walking on a mountain path, the man saw someone approaching. He was startled to see the creature, who turned out to be a dokkaebi, or Korean goblin. Looking at the package the man was carrying, the goblin said, “Hey, that smells good. It must be some meat. Give that to me, will you?” If the man had been sober, he would have run away immediately. But the drunken man wasn’t afraid of the dokkaebi and even had the courage to refuse the request. “No, I won’t. This is for my family, not you.” The dokkaebi thought for a while and made a suggestion. “OK then, why don’t we have a bout of wrestling? If I win, you give the meat to me. If I lose, I’ll give you gold and jewels, what do you say?” The man readily accepted the proposal because he was confident of winning. As a matter of fact, he was very good at wrestling and he had won several wrestling competitions before.
So, the two began to wrestle each other, with each grabbing the opponent by a band that was wrapped around the waist and thigh. The man was a good wrestler, but the goblin was stronger than he had expected. The match did not easily come to a conclusion, and continued throughout the night. It was not until around daybreak that the man managed to knock down the exhausted dokkaebi. As a symbol of victory, the man hung the goblin’s band on a nearby tree.
Back at home, his family stayed awake the whole night, worrying about the man. When he returned home, he told them what had happened to him the previous night. But they didn’t believe the ridiculous story about a wrestling match with a goblin. They thought that the drunken man fell asleep on the road and had a dream. He was upset. He wanted to prove that he was telling the truth, and he led his family to the tree, on which he had hung the band. He pointed to the tree. “See? This is clear evidence of my wrestling match with the goblin.”
But what they saw on the tree was not a band but a stumpy broomstick. Now the family, including the man, realized that he had been possessed by the dokkaebi and fought with the broomstick all night long. The man was embarrassed, of course, but something more surprising was awaiting him at home. When the family came back home, they were astonished to find various treasures in a cauldron in the kitchen. The goblin had kept his word. The family was excited and invited neighbors to throw a big party.
Much to their surprise and delight, it was not a one-time event. The next morning, the cauldron was again filled with gold and jewels. It turned out that the forgetful goblin brought the treasures every morning and this ritual continued for some time. Thanks to the dokkaebi, the family became rich and lived happily ever after.
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.