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22 votes

Why do many Korean folk tales start with "back when tigers smoked"?

That went a lot further down the rabbit-hole than I expected. There doesn't seem to be a lot of agreement on the origin of the phrase. It wouldn't seem like it would be a very old reference, since ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
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12 votes

Why do many Korean folk tales start with "back when tigers smoked"?

Note As mentioned in the comments, a challenge was posted contesting the content of this answer. I answered the challenge with multiple real-world usages and the alleged origins of the expression. I'm ...
Flater's user avatar
  • 332
8 votes
Accepted

What religion is suggested by the "God" in the Korean sun/moon origin story?

You don't know how funny it is to read this. This requires both cultural knowledge of Korea as well as the language. The "Heavenly Lord" or in this context is formally called Haneulnim (하늘님, ...
North Læraðr's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

What is the original Korean title of "The Tiger and the Persimmon"?

In Korean, the story is called 호랑이와 곶감. I would personally go with the translation: “The Tiger and the Dried Persimmons", but this isn't the exact translation. First, I’ll address the food, ...
North Læraðr's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Where is "Keumgang-Gul / Diamond Cave"?

The place you seek is actually better transliterated as "Geumgang-Gul". Geumganggul Cave is a cave located in Seoraksan National Park, in Sokcho, South Korea... It was once a place of ...
North Læraðr's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

What's the connection between millennia of time travel and waiting for a bus?

Your speculations in the question about what the contrast might mean are on point. Specifically, the poem moves from grandiose claims to mundane reality. The claims are about the past (recall) or the ...
verbose's user avatar
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4 votes

Why do many Korean folk tales start with "back when tigers smoked"?

When Koreans say "back when tigers smoked," this is kind of the equivalent of Americans saying "long ago, when dinosaurs used to roam the Earth" except that dinosaurs actually ...
wilkvolk's user avatar
4 votes

In Ko Un's short poem "In the very middle of the road", why does the narrator take a different path?

Thinking about this poem and the emphasis on the dogs being in the 'very middle' of the path, I picture the coupled dogs not like this or even like this but like this In this situation the dogs can'...
Spagirl's user avatar
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2 votes
Accepted

Are the sun and moon generally personified in Korean folklore, or just in this origin story?

No, not as far as I know of. Most Korean folk tales are similar to European fairy tales in the sense that each story may share similar themes and motifs, the specifics don't seem to relate. I could be ...
North Læraðr's user avatar
1 vote

Is Djuna a single person?

TLDR: Even Korean sources and publishers of English translations don't know. Details Even the Korean sources on the Korean Wikipedia article allow no certainty about this. The section titled "얼굴 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 47.3k
1 vote

Tale of a Dog Chasing the Sun/Trying to Find Its Owner?

The closest match I can find in Myths and Legends from Korea: An Annotated Compendium of Ancient and Modern Materials by James H. Grayson (Routledge, 2001) is Tale 100: "The Origin of Eclipses&...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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