all far Eastern countries, Korea has a wealth of folk tales
suitable for children of all ages. Some tales are cheerful—ending
in happiness ever after—but others are frightening or even
weird. After all, children worldwide love scary and terrifying
tales, and Korean children are no exception.
in life, the old man would catch a glimpse of his
lost wife's beauty in the glimmer of the moon in a
mountain stream, in the morning sun shimmering on
a lake, or in the song of a bluebird perched nearby.
following selection of stories represents only a tiny fraction
of the innumerable stories that Koreans tell each other.
They can call on such a vast store of folk tales because
of the unique conditions of their cultural history. The
Koreans have occupied their homeland for well over three
thousand years and today can claim to have one of the oldest
continuous cultures in the world. This remarkable cultural
integrity gives the Korean people a profound respect for
the power of tradition (as conveyed in folklore) and an
awareness of the way the wisdom of their ancestors permeates
their language, the rituals of life, and mundane everyday
objects with symbolic value and meaning.
course, Korean culture has not existed in a vacuum, and
its evolution has been marked by a process of syncretic
integration with other cultural elements. During the centuries,
the Koreans have been influenced from four sides: by the
Chinese from the west; the Japanese from the east; the people
of Manchuria and eastern Siberia from the north; and the
Pacific peoples from the south, whom the fishermen and sailors
met on their voyages past the numerous islands.