Trick Tale(行骗故事)

Trick Tale

Headword

사기담 ( 行骗故事 , Sagidam )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer NaSooho(那秀昊)

Sagidam, or trick tale, is a category of narratives about the protagonist’s use of tricks to deceive people and pursue his interest.

As in other cultures, Korean trick tales have a long history. The earliest in record would be “Tale of Seoktalhae’s Trick” in Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) from the 13th century. With his eyes on the house that belonged to the high minister Hogong (Gourd Duke), Seoktalhae buried a whetstone and a piece of charcoal by the house, and claimed to the authorities that his family of blacksmiths had lived in the house for many generations, asking them to dig up the land for evidence. Seoktalhae was thus able to take over the house.

These tales comprise a wide range of tricks, from simple ones like the servant taking his master’s food by lying that it has been contaminated, to more elaborate ones like Kim Seon-dal’s scheme of passing out money to people and retrieved it the following day to trick a rich man into purchase from him the right to sell the water from the Daedong River.

A successful trick usually meets the following conditions: First, the trickster must be able to read people’s minds, especially their weaknesses, for not everyone is gullible; second, the trickster must have the verbal skills to persuade his target to accept terms that are actually disadvantageous to them. Kim Seon- dal’s success owed to his detailed planning, but his trick was made believable by his persuasive words; third, spontaneous improvisation is also important, because even the most carefully planned scheme will accompany unexpected situations, which require quick thinking to turn things around to his benefit; fourth, anonymity is required, for successful tricksters can quickly acquire notoriety, which is why they often play out their schemes where they are outsiders, or target outsiders as in the case of Kim Seon-dal, who tricks a traveler from Seoul or China.

Since tricks and schemes are social taboos, trick tales reflect the moral lesson of “punishing evil and rewarding virtue (gwonseonjingak).” Narratives of successful tricks, however, usually depict schemes that target immoral characters who bring harm, like corrupt officials or villains, or the narratives emphasize the wisdom and extraordinary ability of the protagonist.

Trick Tale

Trick Tale
Headword

사기담 ( 行骗故事 , Sagidam )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer NaSooho(那秀昊)

Sagidam, or trick tale, is a category of narratives about the protagonist’s use of tricks to deceive people and pursue his interest.

As in other cultures, Korean trick tales have a long history. The earliest in record would be “Tale of Seoktalhae’s Trick” in Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) from the 13th century. With his eyes on the house that belonged to the high minister Hogong (Gourd Duke), Seoktalhae buried a whetstone and a piece of charcoal by the house, and claimed to the authorities that his family of blacksmiths had lived in the house for many generations, asking them to dig up the land for evidence. Seoktalhae was thus able to take over the house.

These tales comprise a wide range of tricks, from simple ones like the servant taking his master’s food by lying that it has been contaminated, to more elaborate ones like Kim Seon-dal’s scheme of passing out money to people and retrieved it the following day to trick a rich man into purchase from him the right to sell the water from the Daedong River.

A successful trick usually meets the following conditions: First, the trickster must be able to read people’s minds, especially their weaknesses, for not everyone is gullible; second, the trickster must have the verbal skills to persuade his target to accept terms that are actually disadvantageous to them. Kim Seon- dal’s success owed to his detailed planning, but his trick was made believable by his persuasive words; third, spontaneous improvisation is also important, because even the most carefully planned scheme will accompany unexpected situations, which require quick thinking to turn things around to his benefit; fourth, anonymity is required, for successful tricksters can quickly acquire notoriety, which is why they often play out their schemes where they are outsiders, or target outsiders as in the case of Kim Seon-dal, who tricks a traveler from Seoul or China.

Since tricks and schemes are social taboos, trick tales reflect the moral lesson of “punishing evil and rewarding virtue (gwonseonjingak).” Narratives of successful tricks, however, usually depict schemes that target immoral characters who bring harm, like corrupt officials or villains, or the narratives emphasize the wisdom and extraordinary ability of the protagonist.