Three Hatchets


In Korea there was a boy who had a silver hatchet. One day he was working chopping down tree when he accidentally loses his grip on the hatchet and throws it into river. After he loses his silver hatchet a man comes out of river and and asks the boy one is your hatchet I’ll return it to you. Is it this gold hatchet, is it this silver hatchet or is it this copper hatchet? The man points to each hatchet one by one as he speaks. The boy lies and says the gold hatchet is the one he lost but the old man knows he’s lying and says because he lied and he is greedy he won’t receive any of the hatchets. He also tells the boy if he had spoken the truth he would have received all the hatchets.

Background and Context:

The informant is a Korean American sophomore at USC. He was born and raised in Northern California but he lived in South Korea for six months right after highschool. I collected the folklore on a Wednesday night in a very casual setting. My informant learned this story growing up as bedtime stories from his parents.

Final Thoughts:

I believe this story is used to teach people a lesson. As the moral of the story is not to steal or lie. This is the moral because in the story the boy lied to the river man and was punished by not getting his hatchet back, while he would have been rewarded with all three hatchets if he had told the truth. Overall this story is interesting and unique because instead of creating two parallels between two characters you have one character learning what his opposite actions could have caused.