red fan blue fan

1) “There was a woodcutter who came upon two magical fans… a red fan and a blue fan. Upon fanning his nose with the red fan, his nose grew double in size. He panicked! However, he then fanned his nose with the blue fan, and his nose shrunk! With these newfound magical devices, he devised a plan to get rich. He went to the local village noble’s house and fanned his nose without looking. The noble was panicking, believing he had an incurable disease, and called the entire village, offering a huge sum of money for whoever could cure him. The woodcutter brought the blue fan, cured him, and was given money that would last his children’s children. Because of his new wealth however, he quit woodcutting and became extremely bored. So he decided to use the red fan indefinitely to see how high his nose could grow. It made a dent in the floor of heaven! Angered by this occurrence, God snipped his nose and the woodcutter lived the rest of his life in pain…”  

2) This folktale was told to me and my grandparents by my mother. She first heard it at church when she was young. She said she wanted me to hear it because she doesn’t want me to live a life that is marked by greed. 

3) I had initially asked my grandparents for folktales, but they directed the responsibility onto my mother. They said they were curious as to what she knew because she has spent a lot of time growing up in America while being Korean. 

4) This folktale has large ties to the idea of Karma. Buddhism was the original major religious system in Korea, so it makes sense that its influence would be manifest in multiple forms. The ideas of karma and incarnation are quite grave, however, and since this folktale is a children’s story, it seems to have been packaged in a way that includes comedy and is more digestible for children.