Rabbit and Turtle

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: 47
Occupation: computer programmer
Residence: LA
Date of Performance/Collection: 2017-4-25
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Korean

Main Piece:

 

큰 병을 얻어 임종을 눈앞에 둔 물 속 나라 용궁의 용왕이 병을 낫기 위한 방법을 수소문 한 결과 토끼의 간을 먹으면 낫는다는 이야기를 듣게 된다.

 

하지만 물 속 나라의 백성들은 전부 물고기인지라 뭍에 사는 토끼를 잡아올 방법이 없지 않은가. 그 때, 용왕의 신하인 자라가 자신만만하게 나서며, 손바닥 뒤집듯 쉽게 토끼를 잡아올 수 있을거라 말한다. 자라는 물과 뭍을 오갈 수 있기 때문에 뭍으로 올라와 토끼를 찾아 간다.

 

토끼를 만난 별주부는 달리기 경주에서 승리하여 온갖 아양과 아부를 떨어 토끼를 설득하며, 결국 토끼는 별주부의 등에 타고 용궁으로 가게 된다.

 

토끼를 본 용왕이 대뜸 “내가 살기 위해서는 니가 죽어야 한다.” 라고 말한다. 이에 토끼는 잠깐 당황하지만, 기지를 발휘하여 “안타깝지만 지금은 나에게 간이 없다. 나만 아는 곳에 몰래 감춰두고 왔다.” 라고 말한다. 토끼는 잔꾀로 용왕을 속이고 무사히 탈출한다.

 

토끼의 배웅 겸, 몰래 감춰놓았다던 간을 받아올 겸 해서 별주부가 다시 토끼를 데리고 육지로 올라가나, 토끼는 “거짓말이야”를 외쳐주고는 산속으로 도망가버린다.

 

이에 허탈한 별주부가 자살을 결심하려고 할 때 지나가던 도인이 “그대의 정성에 하늘이 감동했다” 라며 신선들이 사용하는 약을 건네준다. 별주부가 “어르신의 존함은 뭡니까?”라고 묻자 도인이 “나는 패국 사람 화타다”라고 자신의 이름을 밝히고 이야기는 끝난다.

The King of the country in the water got very sick and heard that only the liver of a rabbit can cure it.

 

But all the people of the country in the water are fish, so there is no way to bring the rabbit. At that time, Yongwang(The King)’s servant, the turtle says that he is able to grab the rabbit easily. Because he can go to water and land, the turtle went up to the land to visit the rabbit.

 

The turtle that meets the rabbit wins the running race and eventually the rabbit rides on the back of the turtle and goes to the palace.

 

“You have to die for me to live.” the king says. The rabbit panicked for a moment, but said, “Unfortunately, I have no liver now.” The king is suspicious, but let the rabbit go to get the liver.

 

The rabbit shouted to the turtle, “It was a lie” and run away into the mountains.

 

Disappointed, the turtle tried to commit suicide, a stranger gave him a medicine from heaven that can cure the king’s illness. The turtle asked “What is your name?” and the stranger answered “I am Hwata from China”.

 

Background Information:

This is a very old Korean novel. It figuratively shows how Choonchoo Kim of Shilla escaped from Kokuryeo.

Interestingly, this story can be viewed from the rabbit or from the tortoise.

 

Context:

This is performed as puppet animation or graphic animation for children.

Personal Analysis:

The ending is a bit of a plot twist and also a bit random. The rabbit is very sneaky, and the turtle is a faithful servant. From the rabbit’s point of view, he was just trying to protect himself and did what it takes to survive. He became a victim at one point because the king asked for his life to keep his own. On the other hand, from the turtle’s point of view, the rabbit is the bad guy for running away with a lie. We want to pity the turtle and side with him especially when he wants to die, but he was given the task to kill a rabbit which is cruel. It is an interesting story because it correlates with history. These animals are a popular choice in lead characters in children’s stories, because they contradict each other.