Myth – Korean

The Disobedient Frog

My friend Brian told me a Korean myth that he says his grandmother used to tell him and his sister when they were younger.  The myth is called The Disobedient Frog and he said it is a pretty popular Korean folktale.  He said that once there was a young frog who lived in a pond with his widowed mother.  The young frog was mischievous and always disobeyed his mother.  Brian said that the frog always did exactly the opposite of what his mother asked him to and so the mother frog was always scolding and worrying about her disobedient son that eventually it made her sick, but her son continued to be disobedient.  Then one day the mother frog called her son to her bedside and said she did not think she would live very long.  Knowing that her son always did the opposite of what she said she asked him to bury her by the river and not in the mountains when she died.  A few days later when the mother frog died her son cried and knew it was his fault for always misbehaving and worrying her so much.  So the son decided to for once, do exactly as his mother had asked.  He buried her by the river like she asked even though he did not think it was a good idea.  Then one day when it rained so much that the river banks became overflowed and the young frog was so worried about his mother grave being washed away he went to go watch over it.  As he watched her grave he cried and croaked asking that his mother’s grave would not be washed away.  So now every time it rains the young frog goes to the river banks and croaks as he watches over his mother’s grave and this is why the frogs always croak so loudly when it rains.

Brian said that his grandmother used to tell him many Korean folktales when he would visit her when he was younger.  He said he remembers hearing this story the most and he thinks it is because his grandmother wanted to teach him that he needed to behave himself and listen to his mother and father.

In folklore myths are often times set before, after, or outside the real world.  Obviously, the talking frogs would set this myth outside the real world.  Myths also often explain creation or origin of something in the universe.  The end of the myth claims that the whole story explains why frogs croak when it rains.  However the underlying message of the myth is to teach young children to listen to their mother or parents otherwise they will cause them much grief that could potentially harm them.  I agree with Brian when he says he thinks his grandmother told him and his sister the story when they were younger to try and teach them or tell them indirectly to obey and listen to their parents.  I also think that his grandmother helped create cultural identity in her grandchildren by telling them Korean myths.  It is also possible that his grandmother was told the myth when she was younger and so she is just passing this piece of Korean folklore down to her grandchildren.

Annotation: Crowder-Han, Suzanne. Korean Folk & Fairy Tales. Hollym Intl: 1991.

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