TYGER, TYGER BURNING BRIGHT
Liddle Sis doesn't remember many folk stories from her time in Korea. This is probably because she was only a child then. For her benefit, I reprise the following:
How the moon got its spots (or, why you should not open the door to strangers)
Once upon a time, when tigers could smoke tobacco leaves, there lived an old lady with her two grandchildren, a boy and a girl.
The family was a poor one, but they were happy. The grandmother made a living out of making rice cake and selling it in the local market every week. She would prepare the rice cake layer by layer, covering each layer in flour to stop them sticking, and put them in a round basket. She would put a cloth on top of the basket and then heave it on top of her head. She would turn around and say to the children, "Remember, don't open the door to strangers when I am out," and the children would say, "Yes, grandma. Have a safe journey."
One day, the grandmother had a very good day at the market and she left to go home much later than she would have normally done. Now, she had to make her way through the forests and mountains to reach home, so she was quite worried. Unfortunately, just as she could see the lights of the house at the top of the hill, a tiger stepped into the path.
"Good evening, Mr. Tiger, sir," the frightened grandmother said, "I hope you like rice cake. I have some here for you."
"I do like rice cake," the tiger replied, "let me have some."
Just as the grandmother put down her basket, the tiger jumped on her and swallowed her up. Then the tiger ate up the rice cake in the basket. It was good rice cake. The tiger wanted more. He saw the light at the top of the hill, and thought to himself, "The old lady probably left some rice cake for the household, I'll warrant." So he rolled up the basket to the top of the hill, and knocked on the door.
Now, Korean households in those days had wooden latticed doors covered with thick paper. They also had a decorative screen in the room - usually made of silk but in poorer families made of paper (just so that you know and the next part of the story makes sense).
The tiger softly miaowed an impression of the grandmother's voice and said, "Hello family, it's me, I'm back home. Open the door."
The little girl said, "It's grandma!" and tried to open the door but her brother stopped her.
"Remember what grandma said, she said not to open the door to strangers. Hello, if you are really our grandma, can you show us your hand through the door please?"
The tiger rolled around in the basket, covering himself in flour, and stuck a little part of his paw through the paper door.
"Here my dear, now open the door."
The little girl was excited, "It is grandma, see!" and she opened the door. The tiger roared and jumped into the middle of the room!
The children screamed and the boy, ever the quick thinker, upset the paper screen in the room so it hit the tiger on the head. They ran out to the back of the house to climb up to the roof. They threw away the ladder. But the tiger was gaining on them fast.
"What do we do now?" the little girl sobbed.
"We must pray to the gods to ask for help," the boy said, "they will not ignore the pleas of two young orphans."
So as the tiger was clawing its way onto the roof, the two children sat and prayed for help. They prayed to the gods of the mountains, to the gods of the trees and the rocks. Just as they were about to give up, they saw a huge rope descending from the dark night sky. The children grabbed onto it and the rope took them away from the malicious tiger, away from their tiny house and away from the mountain.
They arrived on the moon where they were greeted by the moon god. And that's where they live until today, for on the moon you live until the end of eternity. If you see the full moon on a bright night you can see them playing with the angels on the moon.