Ondal(温达)

Headword

온달 ( 温达 , Ondal )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer ChoiWoonsik(崔雲植)

This legend narrates the story of Ondal, a historical figure during the reign of King Yeongyang (?-590) of Goguryeo.

The tale of Ondal is documented in Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), Sinjeungdongguk- yeojiseungnam (Augmented Survey of the Geography of the Eastern Kingdom (Revised and Expanded Edition)), and Myeongsimbogam (Exemplar of Pure Mind).

The following is a summary of “The Tale of Ondal, ” as recorded in Samguksagi:

In Goguryeo, during the reign of King Pyeonggang, lived a man of funny looks but a good heart named Ondal, who supported his mother by begging for food. People called him Ondal the Fool, and the king would joke to his little princess, who broke into tears at every chance, that he would marry her off to Ondal the Fool when she grew up. When it came time to find a husband for the princess, the king made plans to marry her into the Go family of the Sangbu Go clan. But the princess refused, and the king expelled her from the palace, upon which the princess went to Ondal’s house and persuaded Ondal and his blind mother that they should wed. The princess helped the household by selling the gold that she had brought, and taught Ondal how to select a good horse, then instructed him to buy a state-owned horse put on sale by the court, and raise it. Ondal entered a hunting competition on this horse and excelled, impressing the king. When King Wu of Later Zhou invaded, Ondal went to war and greatly distinguished himself, upon which the king accepted Ondal as his son-in-law and appointed him to the high post of daehyeong. Ondal died in the battle to restore land that had been occupied by Silla. At his funeral, they were not able to move his coffin, and when the princess caressed the coffin, offering comforting words, the coffin finally lifted.

The focus of the narrative varies by different version. In the Samguksagi version, the focus is on the princess’s independent will and Ondal’s courage and loyalty; in the Sinjeungdonggukyeojiseungnam version, Ondal’s courage and loyalty are emphasized; and in Myeongsimbogam, the tale is told as a story of the princess’ goodness and wifely duties, which leads to Ondal’s success in the world.

The oral tradition also offers many variations of this tale. The version transmitted in the village of Mireuk in Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, which is Ondal’s hometown, tells of historic relics, including the stones that Ondal used to play gonggi, and the tomb of his beloved horse. Another version features the daughter of a state councillor who volunteers to wed Ondal the Fool and live in the country. She shows him the gold she brought to discuss ways to support the household, and Ondal tells her that there is plenty of these things at the wood charcoal kiln where he works, and indeed they found a large amount of gold at the kiln, which made them rich.

The legend of Ondal offers a criticism of patriarchal conventions and morals, shedding light on the life of a woman making independent choices, and provided the subject for the classical novel Ondaljeon (Tale of Ondal).

Ondal

Ondal
Headword

온달 ( 温达 , Ondal )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer ChoiWoonsik(崔雲植)

This legend narrates the story of Ondal, a historical figure during the reign of King Yeongyang (?-590) of Goguryeo.

The tale of Ondal is documented in Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), Sinjeungdongguk- yeojiseungnam (Augmented Survey of the Geography of the Eastern Kingdom (Revised and Expanded Edition)), and Myeongsimbogam (Exemplar of Pure Mind).

The following is a summary of “The Tale of Ondal, ” as recorded in Samguksagi:

In Goguryeo, during the reign of King Pyeonggang, lived a man of funny looks but a good heart named Ondal, who supported his mother by begging for food. People called him Ondal the Fool, and the king would joke to his little princess, who broke into tears at every chance, that he would marry her off to Ondal the Fool when she grew up. When it came time to find a husband for the princess, the king made plans to marry her into the Go family of the Sangbu Go clan. But the princess refused, and the king expelled her from the palace, upon which the princess went to Ondal’s house and persuaded Ondal and his blind mother that they should wed. The princess helped the household by selling the gold that she had brought, and taught Ondal how to select a good horse, then instructed him to buy a state-owned horse put on sale by the court, and raise it. Ondal entered a hunting competition on this horse and excelled, impressing the king. When King Wu of Later Zhou invaded, Ondal went to war and greatly distinguished himself, upon which the king accepted Ondal as his son-in-law and appointed him to the high post of daehyeong. Ondal died in the battle to restore land that had been occupied by Silla. At his funeral, they were not able to move his coffin, and when the princess caressed the coffin, offering comforting words, the coffin finally lifted.

The focus of the narrative varies by different version. In the Samguksagi version, the focus is on the princess’s independent will and Ondal’s courage and loyalty; in the Sinjeungdonggukyeojiseungnam version, Ondal’s courage and loyalty are emphasized; and in Myeongsimbogam, the tale is told as a story of the princess’ goodness and wifely duties, which leads to Ondal’s success in the world.

The oral tradition also offers many variations of this tale. The version transmitted in the village of Mireuk in Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, which is Ondal’s hometown, tells of historic relics, including the stones that Ondal used to play gonggi, and the tomb of his beloved horse. Another version features the daughter of a state councillor who volunteers to wed Ondal the Fool and live in the country. She shows him the gold she brought to discuss ways to support the household, and Ondal tells her that there is plenty of these things at the wood charcoal kiln where he works, and indeed they found a large amount of gold at the kiln, which made them rich.

The legend of Ondal offers a criticism of patriarchal conventions and morals, shedding light on the life of a woman making independent choices, and provided the subject for the classical novel Ondaljeon (Tale of Ondal).