Original Title: 호랑이와 곶감
Phonetically: Hoerangi and Kkotgam
English Translation: The Tiger & the Persimmon
Informant SL is a junior studying business communication at the University of Southern California. She is of Korean descent and only moved to America at the age of 16. Here, she discusses a traditional Korean folktale that is told to many children by their parents or grandparents.
SL: There’s this little town in a village, and this tiger creeps up to a home because he’s hungry and hears a baby crying. So that attracts his attention and he wants to eat like the people in the house. And the tiger can hear the mom saying, ‘if you keep crying, the tiger is going to get you.’ When the tiger hears that he’s like “holy shit, how does she know I’m here.” The baby keeps crying and the mom sees a kkotgam and the baby stops crying. So the tiger thinks, whatever this kkotgam is, it must be scarier than me cause the baby stopped crying. So the tiger runs away into the storage of the house, and in the dark, he scares a robber in the house. That scares the robber away and the tiger hearing about the kkotgam also runs away because he thinks the kkotgam is bigger than him.
The informant heard this tale from her grandma because she was eating a kkotgam (persimmon). She really likes this story because it’s very funny and gives life to a tiger. In her opinion, the moral is that you shouldn’t be scared of the things you don’t see. The tale doesn’t mean too much to her, but the tiger is the national animal of Korea. She described the relationship as similar to the bald eagle’s representation of American identity.
Personally, I found this story to be more comical than anything else. While I understand the moral it is attempting to teach, I believe this tale is better served as merely one that provides entertainment to the listener. I also do like how easy this story is to remember, and that is perhaps why it has lasted all these years since its creation. Since the situation is so ridiculous, it is quite easy to remember the details that occur in the tale.