Tall Tale(夸张故事)

Tall Tale

Headword

과장담 ( 夸张故事 , Gwajangdam )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer NoYounggeun(盧暎根)

Gwajangdam, or tall tales, are farcical narratives that apply unrealistic exaggerations to emphasize humor.

Tall tales in the Korean oral tradition depict events that unfold due to the protagonists’ exaggerated abilities, or from exaggerated competition between rivals.

An example is the story of a lazybones who even found breathing too much of a bother. One day his family had to go away for a banquet hosted by a relative, and they left slices of rice cakes hanging near his mouth for him to eat, but he was too lazy to eat them and died. Another is of an absent-minded man who was running while carrying a child on his back, but got the child’s neck caught on a tree branch and the child’s head fell off. The man realized only much later and wondered, “Was this child always headless?” The tales are often structured as a series of anecdotes, ending with a punchline that incites laughter.

Among the many tall tales that feature the miser Jaringobi is one about the conversation between Jaringobi and his sons about how to be frugal with a fan. When Jaringobi asks his sons about how long one can make a fan last, one replied a year or two, but the eldest son said that he could make a fan last twenty years by flapping his head instead of the fan. The same anecdote is featured in a tale of two misers. Jaringobi’s stingy acts inclue demanding the return of the glue used on an envelope and admonishing his daughter-in-law wastefulness when she cooks soup with water she rinsed her hands in after handling fish. The exaggerated extent of his stinginess provides the narrative with dramatic tension and effect.

“Monks from Haeinsa and Seogwangsa Boast About Their Temples” is a tall tale about the rivalry between two monks boasting about the cauldron at Haein Temple, so big that a senior monk who got inside it on a boat to stir the red bean porridge still had not returned a year later, and about the outhouse pit at Seogwang Temple so deep that the feces that the monk made before he left still had not hit the bottom. A cauldron bigger than the East Sea or an outhouse pit deeper than the sky are details that provide humor, based on a distinct sense of imagination.

There is also a separate branch of tall tales that can be categorized as obscene tales (eumdam), featuring genitals of exaggerated size or men with exaggerated sexual powers, including the story of King Jicheollo, who could not marry because of his immense penis, or that about a shrimp sauce vendor who sought shelter from the rain inside a vagina, where he accidentally spilled his sauce, which was why women’s genitals still carry the smell.

Tall Tale

Tall Tale
Headword

과장담 ( 夸张故事 , Gwajangdam )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer NoYounggeun(盧暎根)

Gwajangdam, or tall tales, are farcical narratives that apply unrealistic exaggerations to emphasize humor.

Tall tales in the Korean oral tradition depict events that unfold due to the protagonists’ exaggerated abilities, or from exaggerated competition between rivals.

An example is the story of a lazybones who even found breathing too much of a bother. One day his family had to go away for a banquet hosted by a relative, and they left slices of rice cakes hanging near his mouth for him to eat, but he was too lazy to eat them and died. Another is of an absent-minded man who was running while carrying a child on his back, but got the child’s neck caught on a tree branch and the child’s head fell off. The man realized only much later and wondered, “Was this child always headless?” The tales are often structured as a series of anecdotes, ending with a punchline that incites laughter.

Among the many tall tales that feature the miser Jaringobi is one about the conversation between Jaringobi and his sons about how to be frugal with a fan. When Jaringobi asks his sons about how long one can make a fan last, one replied a year or two, but the eldest son said that he could make a fan last twenty years by flapping his head instead of the fan. The same anecdote is featured in a tale of two misers. Jaringobi’s stingy acts inclue demanding the return of the glue used on an envelope and admonishing his daughter-in-law wastefulness when she cooks soup with water she rinsed her hands in after handling fish. The exaggerated extent of his stinginess provides the narrative with dramatic tension and effect.

“Monks from Haeinsa and Seogwangsa Boast About Their Temples” is a tall tale about the rivalry between two monks boasting about the cauldron at Haein Temple, so big that a senior monk who got inside it on a boat to stir the red bean porridge still had not returned a year later, and about the outhouse pit at Seogwang Temple so deep that the feces that the monk made before he left still had not hit the bottom. A cauldron bigger than the East Sea or an outhouse pit deeper than the sky are details that provide humor, based on a distinct sense of imagination.

There is also a separate branch of tall tales that can be categorized as obscene tales (eumdam), featuring genitals of exaggerated size or men with exaggerated sexual powers, including the story of King Jicheollo, who could not marry because of his immense penis, or that about a shrimp sauce vendor who sought shelter from the rain inside a vagina, where he accidentally spilled his sauce, which was why women’s genitals still carry the smell.