Brave Hong Kil-Dong

Afraid of the loss of children as they are only half Korean, the informant’s husband reads Korean folk tales to his children because they contain life lessons on greed and humbleness.

Folk tale as told by informant: One of the books that I would read to our youngest was a folk tale about a Korean Robin Hood. As a commoner he led a band of men in stopping corrupt wealth people from pressing arbitrary charges on the poor. If I remember correctly, I believe one of the stories included a wealthy man charging a man for a tree’s shade. But towards the end of the story he learns that the shade is more valuable than the greedy man has imagined.

As a child I growing up under a Korean household I distinctly remember reading this story. I have tons of these kinds of tales in my room and I remember going over to my friend’s houses and seeing the same stories in their bookshelves. So I believe tales like this one were fairly common in Korean-American households.