Green Frog


Original script: 청개구리

Roman script: chung-geh-goo-ri

Transliteration: Green frog

Full translation (according to performer): Expressing your frustration by calling someone a contrarian


This saying is inspired by a Korean folktale that explains why frogs croak when it rains. A disobedient frog regrets how burdensome he was when his mother dies. To finally follow her wishes, he buries her near the riverside and cries out for her in fears that she’ll be swept away. In a less tragic light, CL says that her mother often recites this to her when she “didn’t do what she asked for certain things.” An example CL provides is when she pulled an all nighter instead of sleeping, even though her mother advised her to rest. As usual, her mother was proven correct when CL “complained about feeling like I did bad on the test the next day.” Thus, CL’s mother said “청개구리” to express her frustration.


Minor genres can act as forms of discipline or advice. By taking from culturally significant knowledge, the dite holds extra weight than if it were a stand alone saying. Almost like an “I told you so,” certain sayings can reflect broader knowledge that exists outside intimate relationships. A mother’s advice appears much grander when it is connected to a cultural tale or traditional story–the saying exceeds her and carries the weight of the “wisdom of the masses.” The saying universalizes personal experiences, thus considering disobedience an expected aspect of child development. Folklore doesn’t necessarily illustrate how to live life–it can also be used to discourage behavior and tell a cautionary tale. Thus, this saying is applicable to a multitude of situations: its moral and disciplinary motive can be used for various situations of disobedience or hypocrisy. Furthermore, it reinstates the mother-child dynamic and confirms the mother’s superior level of experience and life knowledge. However, the tale that inspires this imposes restrictions as to who can be the performer and who can be the audience: it can only be told from a mother to a child, not vice versa. Otherwise, the moral implications would fall short. Motherhood is prevalent in various forms of folklore–symbols, characters, and metaphors immortalize the mother-child bond. Even when their relationship appears ruptured, mother and child are eternally united through folklore.