Korean Folktales for Kids

Korean Folktales

In many Korean folktales, animals such as tigers, rabbits, and cranes frequently feature as protagonists, imbued with human-like qualities that reflect universal truths and values. Whether heard around the hearth on a cold winter’s night or shared in classrooms and libraries, Korean children folktales remain a cherished aspect of Korean culture.

Here are 20 popular Korean children folktales:

  1. The Rabbit and the Turtle (토끼와 거북이): This classic tale teaches the lesson of perseverance and slow and steady progress winning the race.
  2. The Sun and the Moon (해와 달이 되다): This folktale explains the story of how the sun and the moon came to exist in the sky, often teaching themes of cooperation and harmony.
  3. The Woodcutter and the Fairy (벌목꾼과 요정): This story revolves around a woodcutter who saves a fairy and is granted three wishes in return.
  4. The Tiger and the Persimmon (호랑이와 감나무): In this tale, a tiger gets tricked by a clever old woman into believing that a persimmon seed will grow into a tiger if it’s planted and well taken care of.
  5. The Fairy and the Woodcutter (요정과 벌목꾼): This story tells of a poor woodcutter who is rewarded by a fairy for his kindness, leading to his eventual prosperity.
  6. The Grateful Tiger (고맙다하는 호랑이): A story about a man who saves a tiger from a trap and later finds the tiger returning to help him when he is in trouble.
  7. The Blind Man and the Cripple (장애인과 못난이): This tale teaches the importance of kindness and helping others through the story of a blind man and a cripple who form a mutually beneficial partnership.
  8. The Goblin and the Drum (도깨비와 북): In this folktale, a goblin steals a boy’s drum, and the boy must outwit the goblin to get it back, showcasing themes of bravery and wit.
  9. The Heungbu and Nolbu (흥부와 놀부): This is a story of two brothers with contrasting personalities and their differing fortunes, emphasizing the values of generosity and humility.
  10. The Fairy’s Shoes (요정의 신발): This tale follows a poor girl who receives a pair of magical shoes from a fairy, which help her overcome adversity and find happiness.
  11. The Magic Paintbrush (마법 붓): This tale revolves around a poor but talented boy who receives a magic paintbrush that brings whatever he paints to life, teaching lessons about the responsible use of power and the value of creativity.
  12. The Green Frog (녹색 개구리): In this story, a kind-hearted girl saves a frog, which later turns out to be a prince under a curse, emphasizing the importance of compassion and empathy.
  13. The Fairy and the Crane (요정과 학): A story about a crane who helps a fairy and is rewarded in return, highlighting themes of gratitude and reciprocity.
  14. The Two Brothers (형제): This folktale tells the story of two brothers who embark on separate journeys and eventually reunite, illustrating the bond of family and the power of perseverance.
  15. The Boy Who Cried Tiger (호랑이를 부른 소년): Inspired by Aesop’s fable, this story follows a mischievous boy who repeatedly tricks his village into believing there’s a tiger nearby, but when a real tiger appears, no one believes him.
  16. The Robber and the Judge (도둑과 판사): This tale centers around a robber who seeks redemption after being caught by a wise judge, showcasing themes of justice and forgiveness.
  17. The Talking Fish (말하는 물고기): In this story, a fisherman catches a magical fish that can speak and grants wishes, but the fisherman learns the consequences of greed and selfishness.
  18. The Magic Cloak (마법의 외투): A tale about a poor boy who receives a cloak that grants his wishes, but he must learn to use it wisely to avoid unintended consequences.
  19. The King’s Daughter and the Frog (왕자의 딸과 개구리): This story follows a princess who befriends a talking frog and learns valuable lessons about inner beauty and true friendship.
  20. The Woodcutter and the Magic Ginseng (벌목꾼과 마법인삼): In this folktale, a woodcutter discovers a magical ginseng root that grants him good fortune, but he must outsmart a greedy neighbor who seeks to steal it.

More in Korean for Kids