Traditional Story – Korea

“In Korean traditional stories, in heaven there is a kingdom and there is a princess who is usually in love with a normal guy. In this story, the princess’s father, the king separates them, far far apart. But, they were crying all the time and complained about the situation. The crows saw what was happening, so they made a bridge for the princess and the guy. So, once in a year, July 7th, all the crows gather and sacrifice themselves so that the two people can meet, then they cry and tears fall. Usually, around July it rains a lot and lots of crows go bald. So, this story was a way to explain the phenomenon.”

Kwangsub said that he first learned of this story from a children’s book that his parents bought for him. He said that it’s like the Korean version of stories like Snow White or Cinderella, that lots of people know it and he thinks that it started out being passed down orally but now it is being written and sold in books. He doesn’t really like the story. From what he remembers, it does rain on July 7th rather often, but he doesn’t really see many crows around that time and so the story doesn’t make much sense to him as an explanation a natural occurrence. Also, he said that now that he’s grown up he has lost interest in the story.

I don’t know if I completely agree with Kwangsub about the meaning of the story, and the story itself. Since he got the story from a children’s book, I think it might have been simplified and there is a more complicated version that is meant for older audiences. I think it’s very possible that the story was simplified for the children’s book, similar to the way the Grimm’s simplified the stories they found and made them more palatable and acceptable for children to read. Also, I think that there might be more to the meaning than just trying to explain why it rains and why the crows might go bald since July 7th isn’t a significant date in Korean culture and many animals go through changes during the year and don’t  have stories created about them. I think the story that Kwangsub read was a simplified version of another story and has maybe become a story of its own, resembling but separate from the original story.