Gold Ax, Silver Ax(金斧头银斧头)
The tale“ Geumdokkieundokki (Gold Ax, Silver Ax)” delivers the lesson that those who are honest and do not covet what belongs to others are rewarded in the end.
The narrative originated from ancient Greece and was spread as part of Aesop’s fables. It was first introduced to Korea when it was included in the Korean language primer Sinjeongsimsangsohak in 1896. A Korean adaptation of the tale was included in school textbooks in Korea’s early modern times and has since spread as a traditional folk tale.
A woodsman drop his ax in the pond while chopping wood in the mountain. He was weeping by the pond when a mountain god (sansin) appeared and asked why he crying. The mountain god, after listening to what had happened, brought a gold ax and a silver ax and asked which one was his. The woodsman gave the honest answer that none was his, that his ax was made of steel. The mountain god, impressed by the woodsman’s honesty, gave him both axes. A greedy man who heard this story went to the pond and threw his ax in the water, only to experience trouble.
The fable, about the honest man who is rewarded and the greedy one who is punished is a cautionary tale against human greed, which has no bounds.