Mother and son frogs


N is a college student at the University of Southern California, she told me about a bedtime story her mother used to tell her when she was little. N and her mother are Korean but moved to America when N was a baby.


“She [her mother] told me multiple stories but there is one I remember the most because I would cry every time I heard it. So, there was a son and a mom, and they were both frogs. The frog son would never listen to his mom and always did the opposite of what she asked him to do. She would tell him to do his homework, but he would play instead; she would ask him to gather wood from the forest, but he would get sand from the beach. Everything she said, he would do the exact opposite. One day, she was very sick and knew she was going to die, so she told her son ‘When I die, bury me in the shallow banks of the swamp’, thinking her son wouldn’t listen to her. She actually wanted to be buried high up the mountains but expected him to do the opposite of what she asked. When she died her son was very regretful for what he did to his mom, so he decides to listen to her last wish. He buries her in the shallow banks of the swamp as she asked him to; the problem was that every time it rained, all the mud and sand were washed away, and the grave was unearthed. Every time it rained, he would sit and cry in fear of his mother’s body floating away because of the rain.”


Apparently, frog stories are a common reoccurring theme in Korean folklore, as well as mother-son stories. This story seems both like a tale and a fable, as it is used as an aesthetic narration, but at the same time, it is meant to teach the children listening to the story the importance of obeying their parents. This story is in some way very sad and graphic, as it depicts a child watching their mother’s corpse constantly resurface, traumatizing and punishing him for his actions in the past. It clearly is also a story about the importance of maintaining one’s reputation in a good way. When searching online, I found a similar tale by the name of “The Green Frogs”.