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2.3: Warm-up Activities

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    1.Notable Elements

    1-1. Terms & Associations

    The terms in blue below are often associated with or symbolize specific qualities and attributes in traditional Korean culture. If it is an object and you are not familiar with it, search for some images on the Internet first. Then follow the links for each to learn more about it. They will help enhance your appreciation of the story you are about to read, as well as the other stories in this book!

    1) 황소 Ox

    Back in the old days when Korea was an agricultural society, oxen were an important part of the livelihood as they were used to plow the field. In the story of KongJwi And PatJwi, an ox comes to help KongJwi who was ordered to plow the field by her stepmother.

    There are idiomatic expressions in which an ox is used to represent strong physical strength as well as hard and honest work, sometimes to the extent of being tactless. It is also associated with being simple and naïve, and even honest to a fault. Look at the images of oxen by following the links below. You will see that they evoke emotions that are different from cattle tended by cowboys and the bullfights of the West:

    2) 선녀 Celestial maiden; Fairy

    A ‘Korean-English dictionary definition’ of the term 선녀 is a ‘fairy.’ However, the images Koreans associate with ‘선녀’ are quite different from the images you may conjure up in your head with the word ‘fairy.’ Click on the links below to get a glimpse of what Koreans would associate with the term 선녀. You will see three pictures, each of which is depicting a scene from a famous folktale:

    • A scene from KongJwi And PatJwi Click
    • A scene from The Fairy and The Woodcutter Click
    • A scene from The Story of ShimCheong Click

    선녀 is associated with awestruck beauty. In most picture book folktales, 선녀 is depicted wearing a celestial robe with wide sleeves that allows them to descend to the human world and ascend back to their land. Two circular braids are another notable feature of 선녀, as you can see in the images from the links above. The world they live in is called 선경, a mysterious and supernatural place where 신선, the hermit with mysterious power, resides. The celestial beings, 선녀 and 신선, transcend the limitations of humans. Several famous folktales have them at the center of the plot, such as 선녀와 나뭇군 The Fairy and The Woodcutter and 금도끼 은도끼 The Gold Ax and The Silver Ax. In some other folktales, they appear to rescue the main character when s/he is in desperate need of help, as in the story you are about to read, 콩쥐와 팥쥐.

    3) 계모 Stepmother

    There are several words for ‘stepmother’ in Korean: 계모, 의붓어머니, 의모, and 새어머니 (which literally means ‘new mother’). Among the four terms, 계모 in particular is often associated with negative connotations. In Korean culture, there used to be some prejudice toward the relationship between the stepmother and the stepchildren, and it was often perceived to be uncomfortable or in conflict. The stepmothers in two very well-known folktales are portrayed as mean-spirited, ill-intentioned, and cruel. One is the story introduced in this chapter, 콩쥐와 팥쥐 KongJwi And PatJwi, and the other is 장화홍련 Janghwa-Hongryeon (a.k.a Janghwa and Hongryeon).

    *장화홍련 Janghwa-Hongryeon is famous not only as a folktale, but also for the title of an award-winning horror movie which was based in part on the folktale. The movie with the English title A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) earned acclaim from critics in the West and the success resulted in a remake of the movie in America, ‘The Uninvited’ (2009).

    4) 참새 Sparrow

    Before the rapid industrialization and urbanization, sparrows were considered ubiquitous in Korea. People encountered them easily and heard them chirping everywhere. In other words, sparrows were part of their daily life and they were the bird most familiar to Koreans. The element of sparrows is present in many proverbs and idioms as well as in novels and folk paintings. Sparrows are often associated with chattering, being lightweight, or even being shallow.

    • Click
    • Click (A famous painting titled 묘작도 Painting of Cats and Sparrows)

    Because one staple of the Korean diet is rice, you can encounter several proverbs and idioms with both 참새 and 방앗간, a Korean-style mill where people used to go for pounding and grinding grains.

    1-2. Proverbs & Idioms

    Below are a few proverbs or idioms that are imbued with the values and the attributions discussed in 1-1. Select the choice that is most relevant to the underlying meaning of the given proverb or the idiom.

    1) “느릿느릿 걸어도 황소 걸음” Slow the steps may be, they are strides of an ox.

    a. This refers to an action which may be slow in pace but is reliable and fruitful.

    b. This refers to a slow walk during which a task gets done.

    c. This refers to a response which may come slowly but is honest and helpful.

    2) “ 귀에 경 읽기” Reading the Buddhist scriptures to a cow

    a. This means attempting to learn new things that are difficult.

    b. This means teaching slow learners patiently.

    c. This means talking to someone who has no idea or desire to understand.

    3) “가 뒷걸음질하다 쥐 잡는다.” A cow walks backward and catches a mouse.

    a. This refers to a situation where a person makes a mistake while trying to retract his words.

    b. This refers to a situation where a person gets a correct answer by chance or accomplishes something by coincidence.

    c. This refers to a situation where a person hurts others unintentionally.

    4) “ 잃고 외양간 고친다.” They are fixing the cowshed after losing the cow.”

    a. This refers to a situation where people make a fuss only after experiencing a problem that should have been addressed beforehand.

    b. This refers to a situation where people learn valuable lessons from their mistakes.

    c. This refers to a situation where people lose honesty and purity to succumb to social pressure.

    5) “하늘에서 내려온 선녀 같다.” She looks like Sun-Nyeo who has descended from heaven.

    a. This is used to refer to a woman with exceptional strength.

    b. This is used to refer to a woman with exquisite beauty.

    c. This is used to refer to a woman with spacy looks.

    6) “참새가 방앗간을 그냥 지나랴” No way a sparrow will pass up a mill 방앗간.

    a. This is used when a person cannot ignore or pass up something s/he likes.

    b. This is used when a person cannot pass by a spectacle and noise due to curiosity.

    c. This is used when a person cannot turn away from someone in need.

    7) “참새가 아무리 떠들어도 구렁이는 움직이지 않는다.” No matter how much sparrows chatter, a serpent does not move.

    a. This means that a stubborn person will always be stubborn and will not listen to others no matter how much people try to convince him/her.

    b. This means that incompetent people might make a fuss over unimportant things, but those with true knowledge and competence will not be swayed by them.

    c. This means that chatters and rumors will not change the truth

    2. KeyWords & Plot

    After watching at least two videos under Section B, provide a summary of the story using the given Key Vocabulary on Quizlet (Click). Regardless of your level though, make sure to use all essential words below:

    • ‘콩쥐’
    • ‘팥쥐’
    • 엄마 mom
    • 아버지 father
    • 결혼하다 to get married
    • (마음씨가) 착하다 to be goodnatured; to be kind-hearted
    • 마음씨가 나쁘다 to be ill-natured; to be mean-spirited
    • 일 시키다 to order to work
    • 도와주다 to help
    • 황소 ox
    • 참새 sparrow
    • 두꺼비 toad
    • 선녀 Korean fairy
    • 원님 magistrate
    • 잔치 feast; party
    • 꽃신 floral shoes
    • 잃어버리다 to lose
    • 찾다 to find; to look for
    • 벌 주다 to punish



















    This page titled 2.3: Warm-up Activities is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by KyungAh Yoon (PDXOpen publishing initiative) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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