I was a very energetic child, but when my little sister was born, I transitioned to become rowdy and disobedient. I didn’t want to do anything my parents asked me to do, and I was difficult for the sake of being difficult. As a 5 year old, my mom tried to get me to understand why she needed me to listen to her, so she told me this old korean bedtime story.
“옛날에 엄마말을 잘 안듣는 청개구리가 있었어요.
엄마 말은 안듣는 청개구리는 언제나 엄마말 반대로만 했어요.
그러다 결국 엄마는 병이 나서 죽게 되었어요.
엄마는 마지막에 청개구리한테
“내가 죽거든 나를 냇가(강)에다 버려주어라”하고 얘기했어요.
엄마는 산에다 잘 묻어주기를 바랬지만
반대로 강에다 버려달라고 말해야
산에다가 묻어줄거라 생각했어요.
엄마가 죽고, 말썽꾸러기 청개구리는 울면서 마지막 엄마 말은 꼭 지켜줄려고,
엄마를 강에다 버리고, 비오는 날에는 엄마생각을 하고 울어요.”
Yet nah rae umma mal uhl an duhd nuhn chong gae goo ree gah ees sus su yo.
Umma mal ul ahn duhd nuhn chong gae goo ree nuhn uhn jae nah umma mal ban dae roo man hay suh yo.
Guh ruh dah gyul gook umma nuhn byong ee nah suh jook gae dae suh yo.
Umma nuh mah jee mak eh chong gae goo ree han tae
“Nae ga jook guh duhn nah rur nae gah (gang) aye dah buh ryuh joo uh ruh” ha go yeah gi hes uh yo.
Umma nuhn san aye da jal moot uh joo gi rul ba ret ji man
Ban dae ro gang aye da buh ryuh dal la go mal hae ya
San eh da ga moot uh jool guh ra sang gak hays uh yo.
Umma ga jook go, mal sung koo ruh gi chong gae goo ree nun ool myun suh ma ji mak umma mal uhn kok ji kyuh jool la go,
Umma lul gang aye da buh ree go, bi oh nuhn nal eh nun umma sang gak ul hae go ool uh yo.
A long time ago mom not listen green frog there was.
Mom words not listen green frog always mom words opposite did.
But at the end mom sick got died.
Mom last green frog tell “i die my body riverbank throw away.”
Mom mountain well buried wanted
Opposite riverbank throw away tell him
Mountain bury think he will.
Mom die, not listening green frog while cry last mom words definitely listen,
Mom riverbank throw away, rainy day mom think about cry.
A long time ago there was once a green frog, called “청개구리” in Korea (pronounce chong gae goo ree) who did not listen to his mom. Everything he did was the opposite of what she would ask. The mom was getting seriously sick, and it was almost time for her to die. So the mom has to tell her last words to the green frog, and she wants to say that when she dies, she wants to be buried well in the mountains. But she was afraid that her green frog wouldn’t listen, so she told him the opposite. At the end of her life, she told him, “When I die, you can throw me in the nearby riverbank.” So once his mom died, green frog was so regretful that he always did the opposite of what his mom asked, he decided to listen to his mom’s last words. So he really just threw his mom’s body away in the river. He was so sad and regretful, so when it rained, the green frog would cry at the river.
I think this is a really sad story, and I used to cry when my mom told me about the Green Frog. The narrative takes a bad “habit” that many children can empathize with, and shows a dramatic consequence that the green frog has to face. The story acts as an indirect warning to children to listen to what their parents or authority figures in their lives, even if they don’t want to. Respecting elders is a large part in Korean culture, and this story is an engaging way to teach that lesson to children.
For another version of this story read the children’s book, “The Green Frogs” (1996) by Yumi Heo.