Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Fountain of Youth

December 2002
Folk Tales from around the world

   Once upon a time a man named Kim lived in a village with his wife.  Kim was very kind and sincere, but he had no child.  In addition, he was not wealthy, so they had to live by cutting trees and selling them at the market.  As usual, Kim went to the mountain to cut trees.  At that time, he heard a bird singing.  The sound attracted Kim, so he decided to go and see the bird.  As he approached the bird, he noticed that it was the same bluebird that he had taken care of when the bird had broken his legs.  Kim was glad to see the bird and started talking to him.  "Hi, bluebird.  You must be well.  That's good."  The bluebird tried to say something to Kim and flew away.  Kim followed the bluebird, and the bird looked back once for a while to see Kim and continued to fly.  After chasing the bird through the trees, Kim finally arrived at a small fountain.  He was thirsty and sweating because of the long chase.  Kim began drinking the water of the fountain.  The water was very delicious and clear.  "Uh...?  What is going on?"  His body began to change, as soon as he drank the water.  His body felt strong again and the muscles in his arms and legs felt tight again.  Kim drank the water again.  Now his wrinkling skin became tight and his white hair and beard turned to black.  AFter having one more draught of water he looked at himself in the fountain.  He had become a young and handsome guy.  The fountain was the fountain of youth.  The bluebird wanted to pay back Kim's favor, so Kim was very excited.  He ran home and shouted at his wife, "Honey, I'm back.  Come and see me!"  A young man who resembled Kim stood there.  Mrs. Kim looked everywhere to find Kim.  "Honey, don't you recognize me?  It's me, your husband."  The wife was very surprised and asked, "Oh, what happened to you?"  Kim started to tell his wife about the bluebird.  "I can't believe there is such a fountain.  I'd like to try the water myself."  The next day, Kim took his wife to the fountain.  She drank once, twice and more and she became very young and beautiful as she was young.  The rumor spread fast in this small village.  In the village lived an old widower who was very stingy and had no sympathy for other people.  After listening to the rumor, the widower wanted to find out where the fountain was and wanted to become young again.  The old man visited Kim and required them to let him know where the fountain was located.  Kim and his wife felt sorry for the old man and told him where it was.  Several days passed and the old man worried and went to the fountain to find the widower.  There was no old man but a baby who wore large clothes was lying on the ground.  The baby began to cry as soon as Kim arrived.  "What is this baby doing here?" they wondered but Kim thought for a while and told his wife, "That's right.   this baby must be the widower.  He wanted to become young but got too greedy and became a baby."  Mrs. Kim took the baby in her arms.  The baby was very cute and beautiful.  "Let's take care of this baby."  Kim also agreed.  "All right.  Let's take him home."  The baby was raised by Kim and grew up to be a sincere and generous man.

   -Jong Hyun

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