Meet Dokkaebi – 1

The Dokkaebi and the Wen

In the hills, just outside a small village, there lived an old wood cutter who had, upon his cheek, a growth called a wen. Everyday he would climb the hills and mountains collecting wood, and every evening he would come to town to sell it.

One day he decided to take a new path to find some new trees to harvest. Soon he found himself quite lost and he began to worry. As the sun began its gradual decline he become thoroughly lost, so he began to sing to pick up his courage.

As he sang, a dokkaebi started dancing behind him. Though completely terrified, the woodcutter, not wanting to upset the spirit, continued singing. After a few songs, the dokkaebi asked the woodcutter:

“Such beautiful singing I have never heard from any creature! Please tell me, how did you obtain such a magnificent voice?”

The woodcutter told the dokkaebi, “Don’t tell anyone, but this wen of mine is the true secret. No one can sing half as well as me while I have this!”

“Oh, you must sell it to me!” cried the dokkaebi. “Whatever you ask is yours, so long as you give me that wonderful wen!”

Well, no sooner had the woodcutter asked for a bag of gold as large as he could carry than the dokkaebi vanished and returned a few minutes later bearing a sack brimming with the ore. With a touch of his club, the dokkaebi took the woodcutter’s growth. The dokkaebi ran off into the forest, singing, quite badly mind you, about his good fortune for having obtained such a music-enhancing item.

The woodcutter made his way down the mountain to the village with his newly obtained sack of gold. The villagers crowded around and soon all the details of his exploits were laid bare.

Now, at that time there was a merchant who lived in town who also happened to have a wen upon his cheek. Once the merchant heard the woodcutter’s tale he thanked heaven for this good fortune and he planned to set off the very next day to exchange his wen for something of much more value.

When the sun poked above the hills, the merchant was already roaming the mountain, singing at the top of his lungs. After a few hours his voice became quite hoarse, but he continued singing. By noon the merchant was tired, hungry and his song sounded it! But he kept singing and as the sun started its gradual decline the dokkaebi appeared.

“Excuse me, good sir. How do you sing like that?”

The merchant could already feel the gold between his fingers.

“Why, with this trusty wen of mine!” he boasted.

“In that case,” said the dokkaebi, “you can have mine, for it appears yours is not working properly.”

And before the merchant could say a word, the dokkaebi slapped the woodcutter’s wen upon him and promptly vanished. The merchant cried out, but the dokkaebi was nowhere to be seen. The merchant turned home, now burdened with two wens rather than one.

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