The story of the Korean Cinderella – Kongjwi and Patjwi

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Once upon a time in Korea, there lived a cute little girl named Kongjwi, in a village named Dunsan. She was very simple, innocent, naïve and the only daughter to her parents.

Kongjwi’s mother passed away when she was just 3-4 months old. Her father then married a widow with a daughter of her own. So Kongjwi now had a step sister named Patjwi, who disliked her as much as her step mother. After Kongjwi’s father passed away, both her step mother and sister treated Kongjwi in a very unfair way by making her do all the household chores and giving her ragged clothes to wear. Poor Kongjwi worked very hard without complaining from dawn to dusk and grew up in isolation, in the fond memories of her parents.

Once upon a time in Korea, there lived a cute little girl named Kongjwi, in a village named Dunsan. She was very simple, innocent, naïve and the only daughter to her parents.

Kongjwi’s mother passed away when she was just 3-4 months old. Her father then married a widow with a daughter of her own. So Kongjwi now had a step sister named Patjwi, who disliked her as much as her step mother. After Kongjwi’s father passed away, both her step mother and sister treated Kongjwi in a very unfair way by making her do all the household chores and giving her ragged clothes to wear. Poor Kongjwi worked very hard without complaining from dawn to dusk and grew up in isolation, in the fond memories of her parents.

One day, her stepmother gave her a wooden plow and told her to plow the field and not come back till the time she had ploughed the entire field. The entire field was covered with rocks and weeds. Kongjwi had no idea how was she going to finish her task today. She, with tears in her eyes, started plowing the field. Suddenly, her wooden hoe struck a large rock and it broke her hoe in two. Her eyes started flowing with tears, but she did not give up and began to weed the fields with her own hands. Her hands started hurting and she started weeping.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, an ox came to the fields and gave Kongjwi a basket of apples to eat. The ox told her to rest and it did the entire plowing for her. Kongjwi was now very happy and started playing with the ox. She finally took the basket of apples home to share it with her mom and her sister. On seeing the basket of apples, Kongjwi’s step mom accused her of stealing with out even listening to her story and gave the apples to her daughter. She loaded her with more work to do.

After a few days the cities New Mayor invited every household in the village to a ball. Kongjwi wanted to go but her stepmother gave her a series of tasks to complete before she could attend the ball. She told her to fill the hangari (a large clay jar used to store water), hull the unmilled rice and finish weaving the jute fibers into cloth.

No matter how hard she tried, she could not fill up the enormous hangari, as it had a hole in the bottom. Kongjwi started weeping. Listening to her cries a turtle appeared and offered to help her by blocking the hole of the hangari using a small stone. With its help, Kongji was able to fill the hangari with water. Then she spread the rice on the mat in the courtyard for hulling. Suddenly, hundreds of sparrows descended from the trees above and began helping her by pecking the rice for her, leaving behind, hulled rice on the mat. And finally a beautiful fair descended from the heavens to help her with the weaving of jute fibers in to the cloth.

The fairy then offered Kongjwi a beautiful silk hanbok and a floral silk gomusin. She rushed to the ball in her new clothes. Everybody, including the new mayor, was stunned by her beauty at the Ball. The new mayor was so captivated by her looks that he instantly fell in love with her and offered to marry her. Kongjwi blushed at his proposal. The whole crowd started gathering towards this new girl and Kongjwi could spot her stepmother and sister heading towards her. But with the fear of being caught or getting humiliated by her stepmother, she ran out of the ball.

On her way back, in a complete Cinderella style Fairy Tale, Kongjwi dropped her left shoe in the Duwol stream, later to be found by the new Mayor. The new mayor roamed the entire village with the lost shoe, trying it on each and every village maiden, in the hope of findings its owner. finally the lost shoe fit Kongjwi. The new Mayor married Kongjwi, the owner of the shoe and they lived happily ever after…

Well not yet… This Korean version of Cinderella has a different ending to it. In a, rather sad turn of events, the stepsister Patjwi drowns Kongjwi in the stream in her fit of jealousy. Patjwi later disguises herself as Kongjwi and starts living Kongjwi’s life at the palace as the mayor’s wife. But later Kongjwi appears in her husbands dream and tells her about the sad incident. The mayor discovers her body in the stream and brings her back to life by offering her a kiss (Snow White style).

The Mayor then puts Patjwi and her mother in a dark prison and then they live…
…….happily ever after.



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