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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.

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