Three Lies

Headword

거짓말 세 마디 ( Three Lies )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer SimWoojang(沈愚章)

This tale narrates the story of an official who wanted and found a son-in-law who was a competent liar.

There once was an official with a daughter who was turning into an old maid. The official sought a competent liar for his son-in-law and posted a bulletin that he would accept as his son-in-law a bachelor who could tell three lies in a row. Many men came to see the official, but none qualified, for the official would accept only two lies but after that, whatever the person said, the official declared was the truth.

This was when a confident young man came forward and said he had three lies to offer. The first lie was about the statue of the standing Maiterya in Eunjin. A jujube tree grew very tall, taller than the standing Maitreya, and when fall arrived, the tree bore abundant fruits, but the tree was so tall no one could reach the fruits, so the villagers poked a long stick into the statue’s nose, which made the Maitreya sneeze and made all the jujubes fall. The second lie was about how to overcome the summer heat. The bachelor said in his village, people stored the cold winter wind in pouches, opening them in the summer to keep cool. The official accepted both lies, and the bachelor pulled out a sheet of paper from inside his sleeve and said it was a loan statement of a huge sum of money that the official had borrowed from his father. Caught between the choice of accepting the bachelor as his son-in-law and of handing over the large sum of money, the official in the end accepted the lie and made him his son-in-law.

There are three different variations of the bachelor’s third lie:

One is about how to eat pork everyday. You buy a pig and raise it inside a rectangular tin box, which of course should have several holes. And when the pig grows big enough for its flesh to stick out of the holes, cut off these parts everyday to have with your meals. The second is about how to catch pheasants. Paste mud to the bottom of an ox, seed the mud with beans, which pheasants like to eat, then tie a hammer to the ox’s tail. Take the ox into the mountains and tie it to a tree, then a pheasant will come by and peck at the beans on the ox’s bottom. Tickled by the pecking, the ox will swat at the pheasant with its tail, and the pheasant will be killed by the hammer on the tail. The third variation is about a unique farming method, an innovation to do away with the hassle of planting, cutting and gleaning. First, sow rice seeds, then cover the seeds with a dense net, tied to stakes on four corners of the field. When the rice plant grows through the net and the grains are ready to be harvested, pull up the four corners of the net, which will glean the grain.

To win in a contest against someone making judgments between true and false, one must push the issue into an antinomic dilemma, which is what the third lie in this tale achieves. Through these lies, the tale is making a statement that the fictional elements of a folk narrative should be understood not simply as a depiction of something that does not exist in reality, but as the creation of diverse stories about life on the borders between truth and falsehood.

Three Lies

Three Lies
Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer SimWoojang(沈愚章)

This tale narrates the story of an official who wanted and found a son-in-law who was a competent liar. There once was an official with a daughter who was turning into an old maid. The official sought a competent liar for his son-in-law and posted a bulletin that he would accept as his son-in-law a bachelor who could tell three lies in a row. Many men came to see the official, but none qualified, for the official would accept only two lies but after that, whatever the person said, the official declared was the truth. This was when a confident young man came forward and said he had three lies to offer. The first lie was about the statue of the standing Maiterya in Eunjin. A jujube tree grew very tall, taller than the standing Maitreya, and when fall arrived, the tree bore abundant fruits, but the tree was so tall no one could reach the fruits, so the villagers poked a long stick into the statue’s nose, which made the Maitreya sneeze and made all the jujubes fall. The second lie was about how to overcome the summer heat. The bachelor said in his village, people stored the cold winter wind in pouches, opening them in the summer to keep cool. The official accepted both lies, and the bachelor pulled out a sheet of paper from inside his sleeve and said it was a loan statement of a huge sum of money that the official had borrowed from his father. Caught between the choice of accepting the bachelor as his son-in-law and of handing over the large sum of money, the official in the end accepted the lie and made him his son-in-law. There are three different variations of the bachelor’s third lie: One is about how to eat pork everyday. You buy a pig and raise it inside a rectangular tin box, which of course should have several holes. And when the pig grows big enough for its flesh to stick out of the holes, cut off these parts everyday to have with your meals. The second is about how to catch pheasants. Paste mud to the bottom of an ox, seed the mud with beans, which pheasants like to eat, then tie a hammer to the ox’s tail. Take the ox into the mountains and tie it to a tree, then a pheasant will come by and peck at the beans on the ox’s bottom. Tickled by the pecking, the ox will swat at the pheasant with its tail, and the pheasant will be killed by the hammer on the tail. The third variation is about a unique farming method, an innovation to do away with the hassle of planting, cutting and gleaning. First, sow rice seeds, then cover the seeds with a dense net, tied to stakes on four corners of the field. When the rice plant grows through the net and the grains are ready to be harvested, pull up the four corners of the net, which will glean the grain. To win in a contest against someone making judgments between true and false, one must push the issue into an antinomic dilemma, which is what the third lie in this tale achieves. Through these lies, the tale is making a statement that the fictional elements of a folk narrative should be understood not simply as a depiction of something that does not exist in reality, but as the creation of diverse stories about life on the borders between truth and falsehood.