USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘brothers’
Childhood
Narrative
Tales /märchen

A Korean Tale of Two Brothers

Jenny is a Korean-American studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Studies at USC. She transferred from Mt. San Antonio College to USC in the fall of 2016. After graduating and attaining her B.S. in a year, she plans to pursue her Master’s in Korea. Her hobbies are watching anime, eating Korean BBQ, and playing phone app games.

Original Script

Ok, so this is another story I actually saw—but I actually saw it on this, like, cartoon show that my mom got for me. It’s like a Korean cartoon. Um, basically what happened is there were two men and they were brothers and they were both farmers. And they lived in farms like right across from each other and every night one of the brothers, he, would be like, “Oh I think I want to give my other brother more hay so that he can be…he can like have more success.” And, so every night, he would bring over a bunch of hay from his farm to his brother’s farm and he would keep doing that with food and, um, maybe like fertilizer—things like that. And then what happened is one night he accidentally—‘cause it was really dark so he couldn’t really see well—he was walking and then he bumped into somebody and then he like looked to see who it was. And it was actually his own brother who was giving him, who like had, like, fertilizer and hay also. So it turned out that they were both giving each other, like, what they had just for the sake of the other brother.

Background Information about the Performance from the Informant

The informant learned of this story from a book her mother read to her as a child. The tale of the two brothers has a special place in her heart because she admires the strong bonds between the siblings. Their ability to give and never expect anything in return brought a smile to her face every time before she fell asleep. The story taught her about familial sacrifice and to treasure her family.

Context of the Performance

I interviewed the informant in a study room at Parkside IRC.

Although the story is a folk tale, there is a memorial tomb dedicated to the two brothers in Chungcheongnam-do. This suggests that the tale could actually be based on real siblings, making the story even more inspiring to people who have heard of it. Erected in 1497, the tomb is engraved with 173 hanja characters, extolling the brothers’ familial love and piety as ideal examples to future generations concerning how one should behave towards one’s family.

My Thoughts about the Performance

I found this narrative very heartwarming because of the sacrificial familial love it promotes. Hearing the tale reminded me of the numerous times both my parents and older sister have gone out of their way to support me and my dreams. Rather than the several stories I have heard about family feuds or sibling rivalries, this is one of generosity, of selfless love, and of everlasting brotherhood.

Customs
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Rakhi

My informant was born and raised in Fresno, California. His parents immigrated to the United States from India. He described the traditions his family has to celebrate the Indian holiday of Rakhi:

“Rakhi takes place in late August, and it basically resembles protection from one sibling to another sibling, mainly from a brother to a sister or a sister to a brother. I personally have a sister, and every August we celebrate Rakhi. What happens in Rakhi is we pass each other bracelets made of twine, sort of like friendship bracelets. And it’s not even just to my sister. My cousins from Canada, India, and like other parts of the U.S. like Chicago and New York, they always send us little bracelets in envelopes every single year. And um, we… My sister and I, we tie them on each other. We select a few and tie them on each other. And my parents do the same thing too, it’s not just for people our age. My mom has three or four siblings, and she always gets bracelets form her brothers and sisters, and same with my dad. Rakhi is really nice because it just shows the love between a brother and a sister, and it shows how much a brother protects a sister, and the love that a sister provides. And usually the guy gives his sister money, and the sister gives the brother some gifts.”

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are widely celebrated holidays in the United States, but in the U.S., the relationship between siblings is not commemorated in the way that Rakhi celebrates it. My informant is glad to have the chance to specially acknowledge his younger sister and to honor her in a traditional way. The actual actions involved seem relatively simple; the bracelets and gifts exchanged between siblings are not fancy and the phone calls shared between relatives would not take a huge amount of effort. Even so, it is wonderful to have a special day reserved for these small gestures that can make a big impact. It is interesting how this holiday perpetuates gender roles in a subtle way. The males are expected to protect the females; my informant says part of the reason the holiday is important is because it commemorates the way brothers protect their sisters. The females are expected to support their brothers in return. Even so, the underlying message of the entire holiday is the love siblings have for each other, and that is what my informant focuses on.

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