Culture/Tourism

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folktales

 
 

The Legend of Kim Pan-dol

During the reign of King Gojong of Joseon, a man named Kim Pan-dol caught fish on Bamseom Island and sold them at Chilpae Market every day. One day, while fishing, he looked at the house where he lived. He was impressed by the magnificent view and as soon as the anchor found the bottom, he jumped from his boat, thinking that he reached land, and subsequently drowned.

The Legend of Mallijae Hill

During the reign of King Sejong of Joseon, a scholar named Choi Man-ri really loved drinking. One day, he entered the palace while intoxicated and met with the king. Seeing him drunk, the king expressed concern and said, "Do not drink more than three glasses of liquor a day for your health."

Choi, unable to disobey the king, made a big glass for himself and drank three full glasses of liquor a day with that glass. Later, when King Sejong met with Choi again, he found that he was drunk as usual and said, "How come you are drunk again?" Then, another statesman standing next to him answered instead, "He really drank only three glasses of liquor a day as you commanded, Your Highness. But he simply made an oversized glass for himself."

King Sejong laughed loudly and said, "I didn't expect that you would obey my command so faithfully." Then he had his men make a big silver glass and placed it in the main hall of Jiphyeonjeon (Academy of Talented Scholars) so that Choi could drink with it at any time.

King Sejong who favored Choi presented him with a big house in the area outside the Sinmun Gate. People called the house "Cheonganheo," meaning "a big house that can accommodate a thousand houses." They also called the hill where the house stood "Mallijae," after Choi's name.

The Legend of a Boatman Named Hyeonseok

When the Qing Dynasty invaded Joseon, the king, queen, princes and princesses tried to escape to Namhansanseong Fortress on a boat. A man named Hyeonseok, the boatman, pulled up the anchor and rowed the boat, to sail it to the middle of the river. At this moment, they encountered a strong storm and the river water started to swirl. As the people looked far ahead, the other areas were sunny and clear. Seeing that only they were caught in the storm, a statesman on the boat suggested that the boatman be offered to the god of the river as a sacrifice for it was his fault that they encountered the storm.

Hyeonseok was then tied up and thrown into the river. It soon cleared up and the boat reached the other side of the river. As the people got off the boat and looked toward Hyeonseok-ri, the village where the boatman lived, his mother and wife were wailing on the riverbank. Then they built a shrine to console his soul and held a rite for him once a year. This is the story of how the Bugundang Shrine in Hyeonseok-dong was established.

The Legend of Gaebawi Hill

During the reign of King Cheoljong, there lived a rich man who was very stingy about money. He, who had no child, kept a big dog for many years, treating it like his own child. But the dog left the house one day and never came back.

The rich man searched for the dog and found something resembling his dog to the south of SSangnyongsan Mountain at the entrance of his village. He happily called the dog's name and rushed to it, seeing it turn its head and bark loudly. But as he approached it, he found that it was not his dog, but a rock. Realizing that everything is transitory on the earth, he gave all his belongings to his neighbors and set out on a journey and wandered about aimlessly.

The Legend of Dohwa

An old man surnamed Kim was living with his only daughter Dohwa. She was a very beautiful and kind woman. As her fame was known to heaven, the Great Jade Emperor invited her to heaven to marry his son to her.

The messenger of the Great Jade Emperor, sorry to see Kim sad to bid farewell to her, gave him a heavenly peach. Kim planted the seed of the peach near his house and looked after the tree with much care, cherishing it like his own daughter.

When the man passed away, the villagers took good care of the tree in commemoration of him and his daughter. The tree grew to be big and peach blossoms filled the village in every spring.

The Legend of a Ming Soldier and a Girl

A soldier of the Ming Dynasty, who was dispatched to Joseon during the Japanese Invasion of Joseon in 1592, fell in love with a girl in Joseon. He did not return to his country after the war and kept asking for her hand in marriage. She continued to decline his proposals. After three years, the soldier was still waiting for her to change her mind and when he asked for her hand again, and she finally accepted his proposal.

The soldier had nothing to envy, living happily with his beloved wife and his five sons. But he wished to meet his parents again before he died. His wife, with her five sons, waited for him to return after he left for his country. Nevertheless, her husband never came back. After about five years, a Chinese man visited her house and said that her husband died from typhoid fever. Then he gave her two small nuggets of gold saying that they were left to her by him. The five sons, as they grew up, closely resembled their father, and the village started to be called "Daengmari."

 

The Tale of the Hongmun Gate

During the reign of King Yeongjo in the late Joseon era, there lived a girl named Jisim. She lost her mother early and was brought up by her father. As she grew up, she took care of her father who was in poor health and worked hard for her village even though she was still young.

One day, Jisim decided to catch a tiger as her father told her that he wanted to eat some meat. She fought unarmed with a tiger and was about to be defeated by it when a hunter fired his gun at it to save her. Knowing that she had a sick father, the hunter took only the tiger's skin and gave the meat to her. She made soup with the meat and grilled it for her father.

Learning about how she fought with the tiger for his father, the king presented her with a memorial gate for the filial piety of Jisim. The gate was kept in Dohwa-dong (298 beonji) until the early years of King Gojong's reign. But it was demolished by the French forces to make their way when they proceeded toward Seogang during their attack of Joseon in 1866.

The Tale of a Mighty Baby

There was a couple who had no child even after 28 years of their marriage. One day, a Buddhist monk who was passing through their house said that he could help them conceive a child. So, the old couple donated half of their fortune to the Buddhist temple. Some time later, the wife became pregnant. She remained pregnant for as long as fifteen months, not ten months, before giving birth to a son. The baby, as soon as he was born, was able to shoot arrows and pull a tree with one hand. After years, when civil servants came to arrest the boy, who turned seven, he resisted by throwing a heavy rock. Nevertheless, he was eventually arrested and executed, which greatly saddened his parents.

His father climbed Jjokppaksan Mountain and let out a deep sigh, with which the mountain was reduced into a small gourd ("jjokppak" in Korean). His mother, overwhelmed by sadness, ran to the Hangang River and threw herself into the water and died. The rock that the boy threw while fighting with the civil servants was named "Bakin Bawi". (It was standing near the lot no. 202-3 south to the current Holiness Church but was removed for the construction of housing in 1977.)

The Tale of Gangseongsaem Spring

There was a spring named "Gangseongsaem" near the Sinchon Telephone Office. It had a size of about 66 square meters and was as muddy as a tidal flat, preventing people to climb out if they fall into it. It has been known that the spring was connected to the Hangang River. During the Joseon era, it was believed that a baby can live long without disease if his or her umbilical cord is thrown in the spring. So, people living within the city fortress would visit the spring to throw their babies' umbilical cords in it. However, as they decayed, they formed a bad odor and during the Japanese occupation era, the signs were set up here indicating that the act of throwing away umbilical cords in the spring was subject to punishment including fines.