Author Archive
general
Musical

A-ri-rang

Song

 

A-ri-rang is a renowned South Korean folk song

Line Original Script Phonetic Script Translation
1 아리랑, 아리랑, 아라리요… A-ri-rang, A-ri-rang, Arariyo…A-ri-rang gogaero neomeoganda

 

A-ri-rang, A-ri-rang, Arariyo…You are going over A-ri-rang hill

 

2 아리랑 고개로 넘어간다  A-ri-rang go-gae-ro neom-eo-gan-da  You are going over A-ri-rang hill 
3 나를 버리고 가시는 님은  Na-reul beo-ri-go ga-shi-neun nim-eun  My love, you are leaving me 
4 십리도 못가서 발병난다. Shim-ri-do mot-ga-seo bal-byeong-nan-da. Your feet will be sore before you go ten li.
5 청천하늘엔 잔별도 많고 Cheong-cheon-han-eur-en jan-byeol-do man-ko Just as there are many stars in the clear sky,
6 우리네 가슴엔 희망도 많다. Uri ne ga-seum-en hui-mang-do man-ta.  There are also many dreams in our heart. 
7 저기 저 산이 백두산이라지 Jeo-gi jeo san-i Baek-du-san-i-ra-ji There, over there, that mountain is Baekdu Mountain,
8 동지 섣달에도 꽃만 핀다. Dong-ji seot-dar-e-do kkot-man- pin-da. Where, even in the middle of winter days, flowers bloom.

 

 

Context

 

The performer, my mother, heard of A-ri-rang the same way as I did: through the mother singing it to the child since youth. Despite many beliefs of the origin of the song, for my mother, the song was learnt through my grandmother, who lived through the Korean war in the Gangwon province as a child. My mother told me that A-ri-rang has special significance for my maternal side of the family as during the fearful times of the war, my then young grandmother would sing the song with others in order to feel hopeful and feel the bond with those in the same dreadful situation.

During my studies in Shanghai, China, my grandmother visited during the Chinese New Year period. During these times, those celebrating the holiday sets off tremendous amounts of fireworks. In the evening, while the rest of the family were enjoying the sight of the fireworks in the sky, my grandmother told us that the sound of the fireworks reminded her of the times of the Korean War.

 

Analysis

 

According to The Dual Career of “A-ri-rang”: The Korean Resistance Anthem That Became a Japanese Pop Hit by E. Taylor Atkins, A-ri-rang was a resistance anthem during the Japanese Colonization of South Korea of 1910 to 1945. It is famous for being sang during the famous March 1st demonstration against Japan in 1919 (known as 삼일절/ Sam-il Jeol/ Three-one day).

When looking into the meaning of the song, it can be clearly seen as why it was chosen as the resistance anthem. In the second line, “You are going over A-ri-rang hill” symbolizes one going through hardship, which in this case is Japan colonizing South Korea. Those “Leaving” in the third line refers to those leaving the South Korean side to the Japanese. “Your feet will be sore before you go ten li” means that they will not go far and “ten li” here is four kilometers in distance. The sixth line mentions having “dreams in the heart” while dream in this case is more close to hope in literal translation. This hope is the hope of one day being free from the Japanese oppression. And Finally, the eighth line, “Where, even in the middle of winter days, flowers bloom” refers that even during the struggle, they will fight through and they will succeed.

Although I had heard the song many times before, my mother mentioning this context that was relevant not only to my grandmother, but everyone in her generation, made the performance of the song in my opinion more poignant.

 

 

 

Festival
Holidays
Legends
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Chil-seok (칠석)

Story

 

Chil-seok is seventh day of the seventh month on the Korean lunar calendar.

“There was Jik-nyeo(직녀), a daughter of a god, and she was very good at weaving clothes. Across the milky way, there was Gyeon-wu (견우) who herded cows. Jik-nyeo fell in love and got married with Gyeon-wu. However, they started not doing their jobs of herding sheep and weaving clothes. So the infuriated king separated the two, only allowing them to meet once a year. On the seventh day of the seventh month, they were prepared to meet but had no way of getting over the milky way. So a murder of crows clustered together to form a bridge for the two. They would meet for a day and then have to return after. If it rains during Chil-seok, its because the couple is crying over the fact that they will not be able to see each other for another year. Also, the crows then have bald heads because their heads were stepped on.”

 

Context

 

I collected this from my high school friend who lives in Shanghai, China. Despite living abroad, I was amazed when I went over to his house because his bookshelf was filled with Korean children’s folktales. He stated in the interview that because he moved abroad to Shanghai at a young age of three, his parents feared that he would lose to ability to speak Korean or not be able to identify renowned traditional stories. So his father made sure to always buy books when he traveled back to Korea for business and carry them back in suitcases. Because he is the youngest child from both the maternal and paternal side of the family, he states that he has no younger cousins to give the books to so he plans to make sure his children read the same books as he did.

Chil-seok has significant for my friend and I because on the Chil-seok of 2016, which was August 9th, I had to leave to South Korea and we were mentioning how the situation was like when Jik-nyeo and Gyeon-wu has to split for another year. However, as it did not rain on that day, we decided to think that we would see each other soon enough.

 

Analysis

 

This is a legend as although not on earth, it specifically mentions a real existing place: the milky way.

This story has a moral of punishment for not doing work. Although the king had allowed them to get married together, he decided to split up the couple when they stopped doing their work. Stories like these allow readers to vicariously live through punishments for the crimes that they did not commit, which in this case is for not doing the assigned job. Because readers have lived through the punishment of being split from their loved one, they are more likely to stay focused on their tasks.

 

Annotate

Qixi Festival – China

Tanabata Matsuri – Japan, but July 7th on the solar calendar, unlike other east Asian countries that celebrates this holiday.

Myths
Narrative

Ung-nyeo (웅녀)

Story

Ung-nyeo is the mother of Dan-gun (단군), who was the first ever founder of the Korean Kingdom. The creation myth of Korea starts with a tigress and a she-bear. They asked the king to help them become incarnated as human-beings. The king gave them a bunch of mugwart and garlic and told them to only eat this for a hundred days while avoiding the sun in a cave. The tigress could not handle the food and left before the hundred days and the she-bear stayed and completed the quest. The bear transformed into a beautiful woman who is Ung-nyeo.

 

 

Context

This story was collected from my brother, after remembering a conversation we had half a year ago about an article called Beauty Will Save You”: The Myth and Ritual of Dieting in Korean Society (Park, 2007), after my drastic weight loss of 40 pounds from basically fasting. He commented that it was through stories like these where I would care too much about my body image and would take drastic measures to achieve my goals.

 

 

Analysis

Garlic is a central part of Korean cuisine and in modern times, telling this story to children could teach them lessons about eating food that they may dislike to become better. Strong flavors such as garlic or potently fragrant food like mugwart can be disliked by children frequently.

 

Legends
Narrative

Heung-bu and Nol-bu (흥부와 놀부)

Story

 

“Okay so Heung-bu and Nol-bu are brothers and Nol-bu is the older one and Heung-bu is the younger one. Heung-bu is poor but generous and kind while Nol-bu is greedy even when he is rich. One day, Heung-bu saves a swallow from being attacked by a snake. The swallow falls from its nest during the attack and breaks its leg. Heung-bu, being the kind guy, treats its legs to help it heal. Once its leg healed, the swallow flys away.

Later, when it became spring, the swallow came back and returned with the… y’know… the 박 (bak/ gourd) seeds. Heung-bu planted the seeds and later when the gourds grew, his family split them open only to find it filled to the brim with gold. He sold them for cash and became super rich. He bought himself and his family a house to live in with the money.

Nol-bu heard that Heung-bu got rich and asked him how he got rich. When Heung-bu told the story about the bird, Nol-bu went and broke a swallow’s leg himself. Next spring, the swallow came back with a gourd seed. Nol-bu planted and when he opened the gourds after they grew, muddy water came out flooding his house and debt collectors came and he became broke. They then went to Heung-bu to apologize to him for treating him bad for being poor. Heung-bu forgave them and they lived together that’s it.”

 

Context

 

I collected this from my high school friend who lives in Shanghai, China. Despite living abroad, I was amazed when I went over to his house because his bookshelf was filled with Korean children’s folktales. He stated in the interview that because he moved abroad to Shanghai at a young age of three, his parents feared that he would lose to ability to speak Korean or not be able to identify renowned traditional stories. So his father made sure to always buy books when he traveled back to Korea for business and carry them back in suitcases. Because he is the youngest child from both the maternal and paternal side of the family, he states that he has no younger cousins to give the books to so he plans to make sure his children read the same books as he did.

Heung-bu and Nol-bu is significant to my friend because it was a book that he saw at Korean weekend schools (hosted on Saturdays) that he did not own at his house so he remembers specifically asking his dad to buy it for him on his next trip back to South Korea.

Additional context of the story that was missed out by my informant was a minute story detail of Heung-bu going to Nol-bu’s house in an attempt to get some food to feed for his children. Nol-bu’s wife declines the begging Heung-bu by slapping him with a 주걱 (Joo-guk/ Rice Spatula) that she was using to cook rice. Some of the cooked rice that was on the spatula got stuck onto Heung-bu’s cheek and Heung-bu proceeded to go home and feed those rice grains to his starving wife and children. Heung-bu was obviously humiliated by Nol-bu’s wife’s violence, but he still is trying to provide for his folks.

 

Analysis

 

Heung-bu and Nol-bu has a moral: if you are a kind and giving person, good things will happen. However, if you act greedy and selfish, bad things will happen. Traditional folk tales such as this subconsciously instill moral values to the children reading it to act kind and caring for others. This is more effective than being told to act kinder as the readers see an example, although fictional, of somebody being recognized and rewarded for acts of good.

Musical

Neko Funjatta (ねこふんじゃった)

Song

Neko Funjatta is a Japanese children’s song about stepping on a cat.

 

Line Original Script Phonetic Script Translation
1 ねこふんじゃった ねこふんじゃった Neko funjatta neko funjatta I stepped on a cat, I stepped on a cat

 

2 ねこふんづけちゃったら ひっかいた Neko funzukechattara hikkaita I stepped on a cat and it scratched me

 

3 ねこひっかいた ねこひっかいた Neko hikkaita neko hikkaita It scratched me, it scratched me

 

4 ねこびっくりして ひっかいた Neko bikkurishite hikkaita

 

Cat was shocked and it scratched me

 

 

Context

 

I collected this from my Japanese friend that I befriended during my times studying abroad in Shanghai, China. She learned of Nekko Funjatta while learning the piano from her mother during her childhood. It is significant to her because as an avid piano player to this day, it is one of the first pieces of music that she could play and sing along.

 

Analysis

 

The Nekko Funjatta is sung over the tune of Der Flohwalzer (Flea Waltz). Unlike the German version however, the Japanese version has lyrics. Although the tune is renown over the world, in Japan, people know of Nekko Funjatta over Flea Waltz because the lyrics of the song is valued as somewhat of a tradition. One of the first pieces that children will perform to their parents is this song due to its easy to recognize and play tune as well as its playful and repetitive lyrics. This is how, through adding a verbal aspect to the song, the Japanese elevated the already renowned tune into a cultural song of their own.

 

 

Annotate

 

Other examples similar to Nekko Funjatta are Der Flohwalzer (Flea Waltz) in Germany and Kissanpolkka (Cat’s Polka) in Finland

 

Digital
Game
Legends

Catching Mew in Pokémon Red and Blue

Story

 

“Dude this just went viral again yesterday on Twitter. Catching Mew under a tuck in Pokémon Red and Blue was a rumor that was circulating before we were even born. People thought that a Mew was hiding under a truck and they thought they could move it and catch it. Turns out there is no mew under the truck but the game was bugged so you could abuse them to catch mew elsewhere. Anyways, there was a update on Pokémon Go and now you can catch Mew in it but people are finding it in real life under trucks man haha.”

 

Context

 

I acquired this data from my older brother, who is a competitive Pokémon Video Game Championships (VGC) player that avidly travels to local and regional events, as well as qualifying and attending the 2017 Worlds Championships.

My brother heard of this story while chatting over his friends that play VGC on twitter. Twitter is the main social platform these players utilize to communicate with each other. The saw the tweet of the Mew under the truck and they all laughed about how they truly belived it as a child.

Mew is a legendary Pokémon that was not meant to be acquirable in the Pokémon Red and Blue. However, game developers later said that there was a gltich that could be abused in the game that allowed players to catch Mew.

Pokémon Go is a smartphone game that allows users to catch Pokémon in real life. The camera shows the surrounding areas as is, but Pokémon can be found when seen through the screen. As players started to find the legendary Pokémon Mew under trucks, just like the rumor they believed in years ago, they shared their experience on social media, which went viral.

 

Analysis

 

Catching Mew in Pokémon Red and Blue is a gaming legend. This is because of alleged stories that people hear of players catching the supposedly impossible to catch Pokémon in a very real and accessible place within the game.

 

Folk Beliefs
Game
Legends

Bigfoot in the Videogame in GTA: San Andreas

Story

 

“How can you not know of the Bigfoot myth? I thought GTA: San Andreas was your favorite game growing up? Anyways, the Bigfoot in the game is exactly like the Bigfoot legend in real life. There were rumors that there was Bigfoot in the forest of the game and I remember finding out about it because my friend Jordan told me that he was attacked by one and had to restart a mission.”

 

Context

 

I collected this from my older brother, who has been an avid gamer with me since as long as I can remember. When we went abroad to Vancouver, Canada, to study English, we soon found out that GTA: San Andreas was very popular amongst our peers, despite us all being elementary school children and GTA San Andreas being rated as ‘Mature’ due to blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, strong sexual content and use of drugs.

The bigfoot myth has significant to my brother because he says that GTA: San Andreas was a constant topic amongst his friends and they would conduct their own searches for bigfoot within the game when having sleepovers at each other’s houses.

 

Analysis

 

To this day, despite there being searches conducted by thousands of people on the internet, no one has yet to have proven the existence of bigfoot on GTA: San Andreas, just like how nobody has yet to have presented concrete evidence supporting the existence of bigfoot in real life. Although the origin of the rumor cannot be identified, it is interesting to see how real life urban legends can translate into a video game community.

Although the Bigfoot of GTA: San Andreas is not a myth as it does not ponder the before and after of our world, its truth value seems sacred as the bigfoot myth lead to a formation of a community that searches for myths of GTA: San Andreas and tries to confirm them. The GTA myths wiki is available at http://gta-myths.wikia.com/. Despite the game being released in 2004, the excitement around Bigfoot in the game is still alive, as on Youtube, there are people attempting to find Bigfoot or playing with a modified game, still embracing the gaming legend to this day.

 

 

Festival
Folk Dance
Holidays
Kinesthetic
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Gang-gang-sul-lae

Story 

Gang-gang-sul-lae is a Korean folk dance that is exclusively performed by women of the community. It is also known as Ganggangsuwollae (강강수월래 in Hangeul/ 强羌水越來 in Hanja, which are Traditional Chinese Characters. It is a traditional dance where group of women hold hands in a circle, spinning around and singing. 

My mother, who I collected this data from said: “When I learned the history of Gang-gang-sul-lae in elementary school, I was told that admiral Yi Sun-sin (이순신) , during the Japanese invasion of Korea in the 16th Century, devised a plan to dress all the women into men’s clothing and dance around in circles. Then the Japanese soliders thought that admiral Yi had a big army and retreated in intimidation.”

Context

I remember first seeing Gang-gang-sul-lae in the field of my public school when celebrating Chuseok (추석/ Mid-Autumn Festival). It was during 2005, which was the same year when I started attending elementary school. I remember my mother and I dressing up in Hanbok (한복/ Traditional Korean Attire) and having a valuable cultural experience provided by the local community. This traditional dance has significance to my mother and many other Korean women as they have partaken in Gang-gang-sul-lae themselves. Because my mother now resides in Los Angeles and has not performed the Gang-gang-sul-lae for over a decade, singing and spinning around the living room while holding her son’s hand apparently brought back a “joyous memory”. 

Analysis

Despite being well known through its role it allegedly served in the 1592-1598 Japanese invasions of Korea, Gang-gang-sul-lae’s role in modern day society serves as a symbol of Korean culture and ‘heritage’. It is rare to see youth to play though performing the dance, it can always be seen at cultural events, which are especially prevalent during traditional holidays such as the first full moon of the lunar calendar and the mid-autumn festival.

general

Tsuru Nyōbō (鶴女房/ Crane Wife)

 

Story

 

Tsuru Nyōbō is a Japanese folk legend about a man who helps a crane.

“There once lived a young man in Japan. One day, a crane plummets to his feet from the air and the man sees that the crane has been shot down by an arrow. He helped the crow heal and regain flying by treating the wound. The young man let the crane go, warning it of hunters, then the crane flew around the man’s head three times to thank him before taking off.

When the young man got home at night, there was a beautiful woman waiting for him, who stated that she was now his wife. When the man tells the woman that he cannot support her due to his wealth status, the woman stated that she has plenty of rice and started cooking dinner. The rice sack never depleted, and the two started to live together.

One day the woman asked the man for a weaving room. Once completed, she warned the man to never look inside the room and went into the room for seven days. She came out with a very beautiful weaved cloth. Then she told the man go sell it at the market at a high price, which he did.

The man became curious of the wife’s weaving skills, especially because she had no thread. When he looked inside the room ignoring his wife’s warnings, he saw a crane pulling its feathers off to weave into cloth. The crane realized the man was peeking, identified itself as the crane that the man saved, and the crane decided to become the wife of the man to repay him for the debt of its life. However, because the man now knew of the crane’s true form, the crane could no longer stay with him. It threw the cloth it just finished weaving to the man as something to remember [the crane] by and abandons him.”

 

Context

 

I collected this from my Japanese friend that I befriended during my times studying abroad in Shanghai, China. She says that Tsuru Nyōbō significant to her because when she first heard of the story during her childhood, she was amazed by the selflessness of the crane and its loyalty to repay debt.

 

Analysis

 

The moral of Tsuru Nyōbō is to not break promises that we made. Although the man is a kind and caring man for taking care of the crane, he made the mistake of breaking the promise that he made to his wife, which led to losing all the benefits of the crane and additionally losing a loved one.

The numbers three and seven can be seen in this story. The crane swirls three times above the young man’s head to communicate its thanks to the man. The wife was in the weaving room for seven days. The presence of these numbers are significant as they play a role in shaping our cosmological view. When children are subjected to folkloric stories with specific numbers being very prevalent, e.g. three, they grow up believing that there are ‘natural’ qualities beyond its value and significant just as a number.

 

 

general

P.I.G.

Story

 

“So P.I.G. is just like the basketball game H.O.R.S.E. First player takes a shot. If they make it, the next player has to take the same shot from the same place as the first person, imitating it. If they make it, the third person goes and so on. If they fail to make the same shot as the previous person’s, they receive an alphabet. First person to receive all P.I.G. or H.O.R.S.E. loses.

Amongst my friends, P.I.G. was a more suitable game than H.O.R.S.E. just because it had less alphabets. Our break times were short and after school. We would prefer to play a real game of ball anyways”.

 

Context

 

I collected this from my friend that I made in university. He is Asian American and grew up in the city of Walnut his whole life. He is an avid basketball player and always stayed in school to either go play basketball or go longboarding with friends. P.I.G. is a significant game because not only did the game help him have enjoyable break times, but also because he would recognize those playing P.I.G. with him as folk. His friendships got strong through playing this game, and small folk games like these that can diversify and enhance the overall playing experience.

 

Analysis

 

One thing that immediately caught my attention is that the P.I.G., which is a variant of the game H.O.R.S.E. also maintained its theme of animals within the name of the game. There could have been other animals that are perceived as more common while having three letters such as D.O.G. or C.A.T. When the players lose, they receive all the alphabets and therefore become the animal that is the name of the game. It can be hypothesized that because P.I.G. and H.O.R.S.E. are common insults, the end results of the game could have become more humorous with a designated pig or horse of the group. Although cat and dog can both be insults, pig and horse are animals where the literal term of the animal can be used in an insulting context, while it may be more difficult to humiliate others by calling them a cat.

 

[geolocation]