Thursday, November 17, 2011

Heungbu and Nolbu

Nolbu was very greedy and mean, but his little brother Heungbu was generous and loving. When their father died, Nolbu forced Heungbu and his wife and two children to leave so he could keep the fortune for his own family. Heungbu left, and his family lived in poverty while Nolbu prospered.

One day, Heungbu and his wife were out working in the garden when they saw a snake climbing up a tree to eat a baby swallow. Heungbu chased the snake away and repaired the baby swallow’s broken leg. The little swallow gave him a seed to show her gratitude.

The seed grew into an enormous gourd plant, inside of which, when they split open the gourds, Heungbu and his wife found expensive jewels. Soon, everyone knew that Heungbu had become rich—including jealous Nolbu.

He asked Heungbu about his sudden change of fortune, and Heungbu told him honestly. So Nolbu found a swallow, broke its leg, and forced it to give him a seed when he treated the wound. But instead of jewels, the gourds from this seed contained thieves, who stole all of Nolbu’s possessions.

Shaken, Nolbu begged Heungbu for forgiveness. Of course the generous Heungbu forgave his brother, and they all lived in harmony for the rest of their days.

The version my students from group ten presented this very folktale, but instead of jewels in a gourd, our Heungbu found a watch in a ramen box, and Nolbu put a band-aid on the swallow’s neck to make her better again. There was also an odd moment when Nolbu told his wife, “Go to the bed,” inexplicably drew two rectangles and the letter “19” on the board, and grabbed her by the neck for a fake kiss.

But I chalk that up to creative license.

Sidenote: for some reason, typing “Heungbu” is fantastically difficult for me to type. I’ve yet to do it correctly on the first try.

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