Folk Beliefs
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Sea Salt

Informant SW is a USC student who went to high school in Hong Kong but his nationality is Korean, so he grew up hearing a lot of Korean folk stories and doing a lot of Korean traditions.

Just tell me the first story that comes to your mind

SW: “Once upon a time the Emperor of Korea had a mill that would spin anything you want. If you asked it to spin gold, it would spin it, basically just say it and it will come out. Anyways, there was a thief that wanted to steal this mill, so one day he dressed up as a government official and started talking to another government official. The thief told the other guy that the King buried the mill so that no one could steal it. The other guy says ‘nah man, the mill is in the garden and is un-stealable because theres people walking around all the time’. So the thief waits until its nightfall and then steals the mill and gets on a boat to get out of the kingdom. While on the boat the thief thinks about what he’s going to ask the mill to make. Eventually he thinks ‘I’ll make salt because everyone wants talk!’. So he tells the mill to make salt, and since he was so happy he didn’t tell it to stop. Eventually the salt got so heavy that the boat sank. Since the mill was never told to stop it continues to make salt and that is why the sea is salty.”

I’ve never heard this story and never heard anything similar to it. In fact I’ve never heard a story explaining why the sea was salty, which is why I found this story really interesting. For some reason this story reminds me of Rumpelstiltskin because they both of the element of the spinning wheel. I like how a lot of folklore stories involve a thief and a magical item and the thief uses the item wrong which explains some natural phenomenon. Very interesting.

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