Fortune Tale(幸运故事)

Fortune Tale

Headword

행운담 ( 幸运故事 , Haengundam )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer KimDaesook(金大琡)

Haengundam, or fortune tales, narrate stories of unfortunate characters who by chance acquire good fortune.

Fortune tales enjoy a long tradition in both oral and written transmission, and some examples include, “Stone Stack, Rice Stack, ” “Golden Ruler, ” “Three Pieces of Straw Rope, ” “Tiger Eyelash, ” “Man Who Became a Kin of Bak Mun-su, ” and “Royal Seal Returned.” The protagonists are men who are young, poor and/or disadvantaged, but do not possess the desire or plan to change their fortune, while surrounded by contrasting characters, including a rich friend, a teacher, nobleman or the folkloric character Bak Mun-su.

Fortune tales can be summarized as the narrative of an unfortunate protagonist one day visited by good fortune through an opportunity often provided by a bystander or a friend. For example, there was a student who always came to the village school on an empty stomach and a rich classmate hid his family possessions and helped his friend find them, to help the hungry student feed himself.

“Three Pieces of Straw Rope” is the story of a lazy son from a poor family, kicked out by his father for his laziness, and the mother, having nothing to give the son to take on the road, finds three pieces of rope in the yard and gives them to her son. As in this tale, fortune is always found outside of the boundaries of home, which makes journey an important motif in fortune tales. Encounters with new places and new people are what bring new opportunities in life.

In “Tiger Eyelash, ” a man decides to take his own life in the face of grave hardships but his chosen method of suicide is to get himself eaten by a tiger, which can be interpreted as an attempt to find some sort of a solution or hope. The tiger, a divine animal, is impressed that this man has come to him of his own accord when other humans run away, and presents him with his magical eyelash.

In “Stone Stack, Rice Stack, ” the poor son takes into account the rich neighbor’s greed and places silver spoons and gold nuggets atop his stack of stones . And when he visits the Great Kingdom, he makes plans with his friend back in Joseon to set fire on his house on a given date.

In other words, the first opportunity given the protagonist of a fortune tale is followed up and expanded, pushing the protagonists into better opportunities and bigger worlds, from village to magistrate’s office, from country to the city, from Joseon to the Great Kingdom. These opportunities present him with bigger ostacles as well, which the protagonist overcomes through luck and chance but also through the help of a supporter or the protagonist’s own wisdom, wit and effort, creating a narrative structure comprising a repeated chain of “deprivation-resolution of deprivation.

The resolutions are achieved through various motifs, including finding lost items, curing of illness, rise in status, acquisition of wealth and marriage, as observed in the poor protagonist’s acquisition of a rice stack; the lowly butcher who is acknowledged as the high official Bak Mun-su’s kin; the farmhand becoming the son-in-law to a king; and an ordinary man acquiring, through a tiger eyelash, the divine power of seeing people’s previous lives. Universal tales like “The Princess’s Gold, ” found across the world, reflect the common belief that becoming rich is what all human want in their pursuit of happiness, and that fortune and happiness are given by chance.

Fortune tales are basically based on humor, related to character or problem-solving methods, more exaggerated and farcical compared to legends.

Fortune Tale

Fortune Tale
Headword

행운담 ( 幸运故事 , Haengundam )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer KimDaesook(金大琡)

Haengundam, or fortune tales, narrate stories of unfortunate characters who by chance acquire good fortune.

Fortune tales enjoy a long tradition in both oral and written transmission, and some examples include, “Stone Stack, Rice Stack, ” “Golden Ruler, ” “Three Pieces of Straw Rope, ” “Tiger Eyelash, ” “Man Who Became a Kin of Bak Mun-su, ” and “Royal Seal Returned.” The protagonists are men who are young, poor and/or disadvantaged, but do not possess the desire or plan to change their fortune, while surrounded by contrasting characters, including a rich friend, a teacher, nobleman or the folkloric character Bak Mun-su.

Fortune tales can be summarized as the narrative of an unfortunate protagonist one day visited by good fortune through an opportunity often provided by a bystander or a friend. For example, there was a student who always came to the village school on an empty stomach and a rich classmate hid his family possessions and helped his friend find them, to help the hungry student feed himself.

“Three Pieces of Straw Rope” is the story of a lazy son from a poor family, kicked out by his father for his laziness, and the mother, having nothing to give the son to take on the road, finds three pieces of rope in the yard and gives them to her son. As in this tale, fortune is always found outside of the boundaries of home, which makes journey an important motif in fortune tales. Encounters with new places and new people are what bring new opportunities in life.

In “Tiger Eyelash, ” a man decides to take his own life in the face of grave hardships but his chosen method of suicide is to get himself eaten by a tiger, which can be interpreted as an attempt to find some sort of a solution or hope. The tiger, a divine animal, is impressed that this man has come to him of his own accord when other humans run away, and presents him with his magical eyelash.

In “Stone Stack, Rice Stack, ” the poor son takes into account the rich neighbor’s greed and places silver spoons and gold nuggets atop his stack of stones . And when he visits the Great Kingdom, he makes plans with his friend back in Joseon to set fire on his house on a given date.

In other words, the first opportunity given the protagonist of a fortune tale is followed up and expanded, pushing the protagonists into better opportunities and bigger worlds, from village to magistrate’s office, from country to the city, from Joseon to the Great Kingdom. These opportunities present him with bigger ostacles as well, which the protagonist overcomes through luck and chance but also through the help of a supporter or the protagonist’s own wisdom, wit and effort, creating a narrative structure comprising a repeated chain of “deprivation-resolution of deprivation.

The resolutions are achieved through various motifs, including finding lost items, curing of illness, rise in status, acquisition of wealth and marriage, as observed in the poor protagonist’s acquisition of a rice stack; the lowly butcher who is acknowledged as the high official Bak Mun-su’s kin; the farmhand becoming the son-in-law to a king; and an ordinary man acquiring, through a tiger eyelash, the divine power of seeing people’s previous lives. Universal tales like “The Princess’s Gold, ” found across the world, reflect the common belief that becoming rich is what all human want in their pursuit of happiness, and that fortune and happiness are given by chance.

Fortune tales are basically based on humor, related to character or problem-solving methods, more exaggerated and farcical compared to legends.