Korean Folk Tales: Imps, Ghosts and Fairies | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications. Many of the tales in this collection included introductory and/or end note text which has been moved to the Notes section for each tale.

Brave Magistrate, The

IN OLDEN times in one of the counties of North Ham-kyong Province, there was an evil-smelling goblin that caused great destruction to life. Successive magistrates appeared, but in ten days or so after arrival, in each case they died in great agony, so that no man wished to have the billet or anything to do with the place. A hundred or more were asked to take the post, but they all refused. At last one brave soldier, who was without any influence socially or politically, accepted. He was a courageous man, strong and fearless. He thought, "Even though there is a devil there, all men will not die, surely. I shall make a trial of him." So he said his farewell, and entered on his office. He found himself alone in the yamen, as all others had taken flight. He constantly carried a long knife at his belt, and went thus armed, for he noticed from the first day a fishy, stinking odour, that grew gradually more and more marked.

               After five or six days he took note, too, that what looked like a mist would frequently make its entry by the outer gate, and from this mist came this stinking smell. Daily it grew more and more annoying, so that he could not stand it longer. In ten days or so, when the time arrived for him to die, the yamen-runners and servants, who had returned, again ran away. The magistrate kept a jar of whisky by his side, from which he drank frequently to fortify his soul. On this day he grew very drunk, and thus waited. At last he saw something coming through the main gateway that seemed wrapped in fog, three or four embraces in waist size, and fifteen feet or so high. There was no head to it, nor were body or arms visible. Only on the top were two dreadful eyes rolling wildly. The magistrate jumped up at once, rushed toward it, gave a great shout and struck it with his sword. When he gave it the blow there was the sound of thunder, and the whole thing dissipated. Also the foul smell that accompanied it disappeared at once.

               The magistrate then, in a fit of intoxication, fell prone. The retainers, all thinking him dead, gathered in the courtyard to prepare for his burial. They saw him fallen to the earth, but they remarked that the bodies of others who had died from this evil had all been left on the verandah, but his was in the lower court. They raised him up in order to prepare him for burial, when suddenly he came to life, looked at them in anger, and asked what they meant. Fear and amazement possessed them. From that time on there was no more smell.

                Im Bang.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Brave Magistrate, The
Tale Author/Editor: Bang, Im
Book Title: Korean Folk Tales: Imps, Ghosts and Fairies
Book Author/Editor: Bang, Im & Ryuk, Yi
Publisher: E. P. Dutton & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1913
Country of Origin: Korea
Classification: unclassified

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