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In accordance with our meta agreement to have topic challenges and a later meta agreement to have topic challenges lasting for two months and overlapping by one month, it is time to announce the June–July 2020 topic challenge.

Based on the number of votes, the sixth topic challenge of the year 2020 will be

Korean Folklore


What's a topic challenge?

See the meta posts linked above, and also this main meta post. In short, during June–July 2020 we should all try to read Korean folklore and fairy tales.

Participation is not obligatory in any sense, and questions on other works are more than welcome during June and July too; they just won't count as part of this topic challenge.

How can I take part?

By getting hold of Korean folktales and fairy tales and asking good questions about them. Questions about and either or . We'll keep a list of all such questions in an answer to this meta post.

Below is North Læraðr's original presentation of this topic challenge, which contains links to online resources:

(...) In terms of questions, it's a bit harder to ask about the usage of the language, since most of these stories are told orally. Anyone familiar with Chinese folktales can definitely ask questions about how the stories relate. Any references that were lost in translation, I would be happy to explain.

A link on Korean folklore: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_folklore

Some stuff you should probably know about Korean folklore:

  • Goblins aren't inherently evil. You can find a link about them below.
  • Tigers are pretty much always evil and try to eat people.
  • Magpies (sometimes translated as pheasants, they're WRONG) are a sign of good luck and are benevolent.

These are stories I grew up with when I was young and bring back a plethora of good memories. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Heungbu and Nolbu a story about greed and kindness, after one brother, saves a magpie's life.
  • Magpie and the Bell is a legend about two birds who repay a man who saved them. Very heartwrenching.
  • The Tiger and the Persimmon is a humorous tale about how a tiger becomes afraid of a dried fruit out of ignorance. The persimmon in this story is a popular Korean treat where the persimmon is hung and left to dry. Mm!
  • The Goblin's Club is another humorous tale, this time involving Korean goblins known as a Dokkaebi. The club they speak of is like a magic wand, though in other myths the clubs have a mind and life of their own.
  • Sun and the Moon is a charming story about how two children became the sun and the moon. The translation is rather Christianized, the "Heavenly Lord" and "God" are actually one of the Korean shamanism known as Haneulnim ("heavenly king")

You can find a couple of other Korean Folklores here.
And another book with a collection of folktales here, though I've never seen this one before. A google site dedicated to a list of Korean Folktales.
Here's a book on Korean folktales. I don't have a copy of it, but it is one of the better collections of translated Korean folktales. You can order a copy from here.

Update: Archive.org has a volume of Korean folktales: Korean Folk Tales: Imps, Ghosts and Fairies, translated by James S. Gale (1913).

What's next?

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List of all questions posted in this topic challenge


The highest-voted of these is Why do many Korean folk tales start with "back when tigers smoked"?, with a score of 30 at the end of July.

The most viewed is Why do many Korean folk tales start with "back when tigers smoked"?, with approximately 8,000 views during the month of July, due to it becoming a "hot network question".

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