Folktale – Korean

???? (original title)


Suzan first heard this folktale from her parents during elementary school in Korea (the version she originally heard was somewhat different).

Quoted from Suzan

“This is the “Korean Cinderella Story.” There was a daughter ??(in English, kong-jwi) born between a couple after 10 years, but the mother dies and the father decides to re-marry. The new wife brings her own daughter ?? (in English, pat-jwi) and only adores her. ?? is made to work like a servant and when some judge (of the village I think…) proposes to her, the new mother tricks her and ?? falls into a well and dies. Then ?? acts like the other daughter (??). However, ?? is reborn in a lotus flower and goes to tell the judge what happened. The judge drained the well and found ??’s corpse and she became alive again. The judge orders ?? to be killed and her corpse sent to her mother, her mother dies of heart attack upon receiving her daughter’s corpse….”
”I think there’s supposed to a happier ending to this story…. I don’t remember it being this gruesome when I read it back in elementary school…”
Collector’s comments

As Suzan noted, the folktale has multiple endings and thus has multiplicity and variation. Although she first heard this folktale during elementary school, she chose to look online to refresh her memory and came across the same folktale (with a morbid ending).

It does not seem strange to me that she has come across versions of the folktale with completely different endings. This is similar to what happened to the Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Although the brothers Grimm originally worked on collecting fairy tales for the sake of preserving German culture, they began to realize that they could make more money if their book appealed to a wider audience. Thus, they did quite a lot of editing in order to make their fairy tale collections suitable for young children. As a result, many popular folk tales such as Hansel and Gretel can have very different endings (depending on the target audience of the book in which the tale is published).

The variation of ???? that Suzan summarized is nearly the opposite of most Western versions of Cinderella. Usually, the poor, hard-working girl is reward while her oppressive stepmother and stepsisters are punished. However, this specific variant of the “Korean Cinderella” does not have a happy ending for anyone. Instead, ?? dies and has her revenge by causing the death of ??.

Note: The entire tale, in Korean characters, is on the website listed below. The original tale is very long and thus was not copied and pasted here.


Date of access: April 14, 2007