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More adventurous than the average bear

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Charming Korean Folktale

"Man always gets less than he demands from life." - Jack London


Why People’s Noses Run When They Catch Cold

Collected by Yim Suk-jay from a schoolboy of fifteen in 1915 in elementary school in Sunch’ang, North Cholla province. Translated by Roger L. and Dawnhee Yim Janelli.

The collector heard this scatological legend from a schoolmate. The teller was Pak Chong-tae from Taekang Myon, Manwon Kun, North Cholla province.

Motifs are A1337.0.2 “Disease caused by ghosts”; F547.3 “Extraordinary penis”; and F547.5.4 “Double vagina.”

Long, long ago, there was a king who had a son, and this son had two penises hanging there. So when it came time for him to marry, his father planned to marry him to a girl with two vulvas. But although they searched far and wide, they couldn’t find such a girl.

The king’s son died without ever getting married, so he became a ghost who wandered around looking for a girl with two vulvas. This ghost searched everywhere and looked very hard, but he just couldn’t find one. And so, since there was nothing else he could do, he began doing it to people’s nostrils. From that time on, people began to catch cold. When somebody catches a cold his nose is stuffed up at first and he can’t breathe, and then later his nose starts to run. That’s because when the ghost puts his penises up there the nose feels stuffed up. After he’s finished, he takes them out and that’s when people can start to breathe again. But because he left his liquid up there, their noses run.

--- Folktales Told Around the World / Richard Mercer Dorson

Addendum: Comment on reddit:

"I did a report on this while taking language courses back in 98. None of the teachers had ever heard of it.

When I went to Korea for 2 years a couple of years later, no one I ever asked had ever heard of it."
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