Tiger and the Persimmon

Text: A long time ago, a widowed mother and child lived alone in the mountain forest. At night, the baby would not stop crying. SO, the tiger that lives in the mountain comes out at night to look for food. He heard the baby crying and made his way to where the family lives. The mom could not stop the baby from crying, and the tiger saw that there was a mother and child in the house and wanted to eat them. The mom said.” If you don’t stop crying, I will give you the persimmon. The persimmon is dry and unpleasant. The tiger hears this and thinks the persimmon must be very scary because it stopped the baby from crying. But he does not know what a persimmon is. And the tiger ran away. And the baby stopped crying.

Background: K is a Korean American whose parents are of Korean ancestry. He is currently in college. He says that he had heard this proverb from his parents. This piece is memorable to him because his mother would tell him this story at night before bed.

Context: This tale came up during an interview regarding Korean folklore. This was told in English for ease of understanding.

This tale is used as a bed time story. As such, it is primarily targeted towards children. There could be many ways to interpret the message of this tale. If you look at it through the tiger’s point of view, the lesson of this story is to try to confirm something and not go solely off of rumors. In that the tiger of this tale came over to the house and was close to eating the family but was scared off by rumors of stuff that it did not fully comprehend. If it had individually assessed the situation, it would have walked away with a decent meal. If you look at the perspective of the mother, the moral of the tale could be that the protecting the child is very important and sometimes one must do stuff they don’t like to protect their family. But the moral takes a drastic turn if you look at the child’s point of view. In his point of view, the message is that you should not make much noise at night lest you attract the attention of a tiger or other scary creature.