Meet Dokkaebi – 12

The Brothers Kim and the Dokkaebi

In the early days of the Shilla dynasty, there was a nobleman from one of the Kim families who went by the name Bangi. Bangi was good-natured and kind, but was quite poor. As it so happened, he had a younger brother who was quite rich, but was vicious and petty.

One year, Bangi acquired a small plot of land from the villagers, so he asked his younger brother to share some of his silk worms and grain-seed. His brother agreed, but he put the silk worms and grain in a cauldron and boiled them first. One worm, as big as a bull, survived, but even that one the petty sibling bit in half.

However heaven provided and soon Bangi’s home swarmed all over with silkworms. Rather than take advantage, Bangi let the villagers quibble amongst themselves who would be allowed to collect the silk.

As it so happened, one seed of barely also survived. It sprouted and started to grow quite large. But much bad comes with the good and a large bird uprooted the entire sprout and flew away with it.

Bangi pursued the bird, but lost sight of it when it hid in the crevice of a rock deep in the heart of the mountain. Disappointed, Bangi gave up hope when he got to the rock, when suddenly, a short distance away many tiny people dressed in red playfully gathered together. Bangi, recognizing they were dokkaebi, hid behind a rock to watch.

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One of them drew a bright golden club from the crevice and, hitting the ground repeatedly, shouted “Alcohol come out! Appetizers come out!” The food and drink appeared and they drank and ate to their heart’s content, singing and dancing all night. When they had finished their party, they secretly stashed the magic club into the rock crevice and scattered every which way.

Bangi jumped up and retrieved the golden club. As he took it home, he thought how, in a very short time, he could increase the value of his estate to many times that of his brother’s.

As time went by, Bangi’s brother developed a stomachache he had no way of relieving. Being concerned for his brother, Bangi told him the way to find the dokkaebi to get his own magic club. So he planted a seed the same way his older brother did, and when the sprout was getting bigger, the same bird snapped it up, roots and all, and flew away.

Following behind the bird, he came upon the dokkaebi gathering as expected.

“Hey, it’s the guy who stole our club! We ought to beat him within an inch of his life!”

The dokkaebi quickly caught the younger brother and made him work for three long, hard, and hungry days building an embankment. When he finally finished, the dokkaebi replaced his nose with an elephant nose. Quite unexpectedly, they also gave him his own magic club and sent him on his way. But the strange glances and mockery people gave him were too much for him. Try as he might, he couldn’t remove the curse and eventually committed suicide.

But the misfortune didn’t stop there. When any of his descendants attempted to use the club, lightning would flash, an earth-shattering thunderclap would sound, and the poor soul would vanish into thin air.

3 thoughts on “Meet Dokkaebi – 12

  1. Hey there! thanks for putting up these stories here. I am writing an article for my uni about Dokkaebi. Is there any chance I could get the information where you took these stories from? like, the author and the name of the book?

    1. I’ll dig up some of them. These come from various sources, and either these are my own retellings (I read a story a few times and wait a week and then write in my own words) or my own translations from the Korean. The latter takes me much longer as my Korean is still beginner level and I have to ask for help a lot.

    2. Hey Mon!

      I recently moved, so I can’t find all my original sources, but I can give you three. Two in English, one in Korean.

      English:
      Folk Tales from Korea
      Collected and Translated by In-seop Jeong
      ISBN-13: 978-0930878269
      (Note: Dokkaebi are translated as ‘goblin’ in this and many other early translations)

      Korean Folktales (Korean Studies Series no5)
      Hee-woong Cho
      ISBN-13: 978-0970548146

      Korean:
      도깨비 본색, 뿔 난 한국인
      author: 김열규

      If you don’t speak Korean, the last one will be hard to use. I hope this helps!

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