Riddle Contest Against Goblin
This tale narrates the story of a protagonist who wins a riddle contest against dokkaebi (goblin) and takes over the goblin’s land, or receives a favor from the goblin.
A man encountered a goblin, who challenged him to a riddle contest, and the man accepted the goblin’s condition that the loser would have to grant the winner’s wish. The goblin gave the first riddle: “How much water does Duman (Tumen) River contain? (Or, how many gourd dippers of water does the pond contain?)” The man answered, “One gourd dipper, if there is a dipper big enough to contain Duman River.” It was now the man’s turn and he asked, while sitting (or lying down), whether he was about to stand or he would stay seated. The goblin was unable to answer and granted the man’s wish.
This narrative uses the device of umunhyeondap, meaning “a nonsensical question given a wise answer, ” to demonstrate the protagonist’s wit and wisdom in responding to the goblin’s riddles, which also applies to the tales of Soldier Son, who fights over his seat with a goblin, and of Lord Oseong’s riddle contest against a goblin. In other words, the goblin plays the role of an extraordinary being capable of recognizing an outstanding individual’s abilities before anyone else.