Hare’s Liver

Hare’s Liver

Headword

토끼의 간 ( Hare’s Liver )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer NaSooho(那秀昊)

This animal tale narrates the story of a hare who thinks up a trick to overcome a deadly crisis.

The character of the wise and witty hare is similar to that of the monkey in “Tale of the Dragon King and the Monkey” from the Indian scripture Jataka (Sutra of the Buddha’s Reincarnated Manifestations), and other hares in “Gwitojiseol (Tale of Turtle and Hare)” from the the section on Kim Yu-sin in Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), the pansori “Sugungga (Song of the Water Palace)” and the classical novel Tokkijeon (Tale of a Hare).

Yongwang (Dragon King) fell ill and the only thing that would cure him was hare’s liver, so turtle, one of Dragon King’s subjects, was sent to land to bring hare. Turtle went to the mountain, where he met hare and tricked hare into going with him to Sugung (Water Palace), promising hare a high post in the court. Upon their arrival at the palace, Dragon King’s subjects pushed hare down and tried to take his liver. Hare said he left his liver on land, that he would have brought it if turtle had told him that his liver would be needed. When Dragon King refused to believe him, hare showed the king his bottom and said, “One hole is for peeing, one hole is for pooing, and one is for taking the liver in and out.” Dragon King saw three holes and was persuaded, sending hare and turtle back to land. Hare, upon returning on turtle’s back, railed at turtle for deceiving him and ran away to the mountain, teasing, “Whoever heard of taking the liver in and out of your body?”

In the tale, hare is weak but smart, outwitting powerful and threatening humans or tigers. The characters represent roles within a feudal society: Dragon King as ruler, turtle as subject and hare as common people. This perspective results in the interpretation that the narrative is a portrayal of an adverse society where the ruler views the people as objects of exploitation, for his own glory. This tale, in other words, reflects the subversive perception that the feudal system resulted in a dysfunctional society and thereby must be eliminated. It can also be read as a social critique, centering on the struggle of an individual—in this case hare, who ultimately acts for himself—against a repressive social system.

Hare’s Liver

Hare’s Liver
Headword

토끼의 간 ( Hare’s Liver )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer NaSooho(那秀昊)

This animal tale narrates the story of a hare who thinks up a trick to overcome a deadly crisis.

The character of the wise and witty hare is similar to that of the monkey in “Tale of the Dragon King and the Monkey” from the Indian scripture Jataka (Sutra of the Buddha’s Reincarnated Manifestations), and other hares in “Gwitojiseol (Tale of Turtle and Hare)” from the the section on Kim Yu-sin in Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), the pansori “Sugungga (Song of the Water Palace)” and the classical novel Tokkijeon (Tale of a Hare).

Yongwang (Dragon King) fell ill and the only thing that would cure him was hare’s liver, so turtle, one of Dragon King’s subjects, was sent to land to bring hare. Turtle went to the mountain, where he met hare and tricked hare into going with him to Sugung (Water Palace), promising hare a high post in the court. Upon their arrival at the palace, Dragon King’s subjects pushed hare down and tried to take his liver. Hare said he left his liver on land, that he would have brought it if turtle had told him that his liver would be needed. When Dragon King refused to believe him, hare showed the king his bottom and said, “One hole is for peeing, one hole is for pooing, and one is for taking the liver in and out.” Dragon King saw three holes and was persuaded, sending hare and turtle back to land. Hare, upon returning on turtle’s back, railed at turtle for deceiving him and ran away to the mountain, teasing, “Whoever heard of taking the liver in and out of your body?”

In the tale, hare is weak but smart, outwitting powerful and threatening humans or tigers. The characters represent roles within a feudal society: Dragon King as ruler, turtle as subject and hare as common people. This perspective results in the interpretation that the narrative is a portrayal of an adverse society where the ruler views the people as objects of exploitation, for his own glory. This tale, in other words, reflects the subversive perception that the feudal system resulted in a dysfunctional society and thereby must be eliminated. It can also be read as a social critique, centering on the struggle of an individual—in this case hare, who ultimately acts for himself—against a repressive social system.