Author Archives: connorye

The Fox Sister

SP is a Korean American from San Jose. She is a Communication major at USC.

“There was this guy with three sons but he wanted a daughter so he prayed for one, even if she was a fox. And his wife got pregnant and they had a daughter but when she grew up, their cows started dying so the dad told his sons to watch over the cows and tell him what was going on. And they watched and whenever there was a full moon, they saw their sister going to the cows and killing them but the dad thought they were lying, so he disowned them and they wandered around for a while. And then they met their sister by chance and she told them their parents died, so that they could come back. And they stayed with her and were sleeping, but one of the brothers woke up to the sound of crunching and discovered that the sister was eating the other 2 brothers’ livers and she was like ‘I just need one more to be human.’ He sets her on fire and she dies. The end.”

“Hm…interesting. Where did you learn about this story?”

“Foxes are regarded as very dangerous in Korea, and I think I read it in a children’s book, but I found it online when I was researching Korean culture pretty recently.”

I thought this story was rather strange and had an abrupt ending. It doesn’t seem to have a clear moral to the story except for the fact that it seems to portray foxes as evil and secretive. This tale is of Korean origin, but I found it interesting that similar to many stories from Western culture, the fox is depicted as a villain or antagonist of some sort.

The Kaguya Princess

SF was born in Tokyo, Japan, and lived there for 10 years. She is a student at USC majoring in Business Administration. SF is in my Introduction to Music Technology class and she had a ton of Japanese folklore to share with me.

“In Japan, there’s a folktale called ‘Kaguya-hime’ (Kaguya princess). There was an old man who was cutting bamboo in the forest, and he found a baby girl inside one of the bamboos. He didn’t have a child and always wanted a child of his own, so he took her back to her house and raised the baby with his wife. She grew up to be super pretty, so all the rich people wanted to marry her but she said she would only marry if they could complete a request, which was always something impossible. But one day she flew away to the moon ‘cause she was actually a moon princess and had to go home.”

My informant grew up seeing variations of this story in children’s fairytale books and in cartoons, but primarily through means of media, as opposed to verbal means.

This tale portrays the archetype of the kind old man who is a loving adoptive father. This story is quite similar to several Chinese myths I have heard before, where a magical figure or deity is born from a plant, such as a peach or lotus. It also shows a sort of reverence the culture has for nature, conveying the idea that here are magical creatures who live inside of “normal” plants.

For another version of this fairytale, see

김치국부터 마시지 말라

CJ is a student at USC studying Business Administration. He is half Korean and half American, and he lives in Cerritos, California. He was in my Dance in Popular Culture GE last semester.

Proverb: 김치국부터 마시지 말라
Pronunciation: Kimchi-guk-buteo ma-si-ji mal-ra
Literal meaning: Don’t drink the kimchi soup first

“My mom used to say this to me a lot. You can say this when someone gets ahead of him or herself when planning for a project of future. It’s like when you eat a kimchi based dish, you won’t drink the kimchi sauce first right? ”

Because I did not grow up within a Korean household, I am not familiar with specific Korean dining practices such as the proper way to eat kimchi. That is why when I first heard the literal translation of the proverb I was confused. When my informant explained to me the context in which it was used, however, it gave me a better understanding of the origin of the saying. This proverb also emphasizes the importance of food practices in Korean culture.

The Elephant and the Hare

SP is a first generation Korean American who was born in Anaheim but moved to and lived in Nairobi, Kenya for 15 years. She is a third culture kid and went to an international school there. Currently she is an International Relations major at USC.

“There once was an elephant herd carrying heavy sacks of something, I don’t know, across great distances and a young hare and her father found them and discovered that they were carrying honey in their sacks. This particular hare freaking loved honey and hopped up on one of the elephants and started eating the crap out of that sack and eventually emptied all of the honey into her mouth. But in order to trick the elephant, she asked her father, who was like I guess jumping along on the ground with her, to throw up a stone so that she could replace the honey with that in the sack and it would still feel heavy, you know. And she continued to do with like the next three sacks and kept asking for more stones from her dad and she felt so smart. After the elephants arrived at their destination, that one elephant that got robbed – gg – found out that there were only stones in all of his sacks/bundles and he was like “NOOOO this hare tricked me and stole all my honey and I just thought I was giving her a ride.” So he quickly turned around and saw her and started chasing her, but she jumped into a hole in the ground, right? And he actually caught a piece of her leg I think? But missed and like skinned off her skin as she escaped. Here there’s a small gap in the story because I can’t exactly remember what happened but basically the hare gets away and finds lots of other hares. Being smart, she convinces them “Hey, there’s an elephant here looking to reward any hares with skinned tails” IT WAS TAILS, IT WAS NOT THE LEGS. So they all skinned their tails and then when the big ol’ dumb elephant came along, he was like “Yo I’m looking for a hare with a skinned tail up in here” and they were all like “OH but bro, we all have skinned tails” and he had this big moment where he was like “OH NO THE HARE TRICKED ME AGAIN, even though I thought I was fast enough to catch her, she tricked by disguising herself among all these other hares and now they all look the same!” And that’s the lesson of how brains beat brawn.”

My informant said learned about this story from reading about it in a children’s book in her elementary school library.

When my informant said she was going to tell me the story of the “elephant and the hare,” my first reaction was that it was probably going to be another oikotype of the tortoise and the hare. However, after hearing the story, I quickly realized that the two were nothing alike. In this story the hare is clever and devious, and although the ultimate moral is that brains beat brawn, it also has an underlying message that as long as you are clever enough, you can manage to get away with anything. I found this pretty unconventional, especially compared to Western tales that teach character lessons.


SP is from Tacoma, Washington, and is a USC student majoring in Business Administration. She is of German descent. She is a national champion in Tae Kwon Do and is a passionate member of Oriana Women’s Choir.

“In America children are taught that if you are naughty you will get coal for Christmas…Well the Germans have something similar to that. It’s called Krampus, otherwise known as the satanic form of Santa. Basically good little German children are taught if they behave badly Krampus will come into their home on Christmas night and kidnap them and basically keep them as prisoners or slaves for the rest of their lives. My dad swears that Krampus came into his room, but he promised to be good to his mom in order to avoid Krampus’ punishment. Ah, yes Germans are wonderful people. Did I mention that Krampus was half goat and half demon?”

“Also this legend tends to be more popular in Bavaria where my family lives.”

“Where did you first learn about Krampus?”

“I guess I learned it from my grandma who used to live in Munich. I didn’t really believe in this tale but my dad certainly did. During Christmas time parents tell their kids so they don’t behave badly or else Krampus will come and take them and hold them captive forever.”

Having grown up celebrating the Christmas holiday, I have heard of various adaptations of Santa Claus and superstitions parents tell their children to make them behave better (i.e. coal in the stocking), but I have not heard of Krampus before. Krampus seems like a much more extreme and scarier threat than not receiving your desired Christmas gift, especially for young children.

For another version of this legend, see