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South Korea: The tale of the disobedient frogs

Why do frogs croak? Why do they stay by rivers and other marshy areas? Well, scientifically speaking, that’s very easy to explain. But how was frogs’ behavior explained before people became well-versed in froggie habits? According to Sung-Bong, a research associate at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Koreans have a story that explains it all while also teaching young children to mind their mothers.

Once upon a time, before science had all but eradicated folklore as truth, there was a family of frogs. Every day Mother Frog would care for her two sons though the going was very hard as the two sons never did what their mother asked of them.

Every morning Mother Frog would come to their rooms and say, “Get out of bed! It’s time to start a new day!” And every morning the two boys would pretend to stay asleep and remained in their beds. Then when she had made breakfast, she would call out to them, “Breakfast is ready!” The boys would immediately jump out of bed and run to the kitchen.

“Please sit down and eat,” Mother Frog would say. So the boys would hop around the kitchen and all over the table, not sitting down and not eating. Mother Frog would sigh and tell them to clean up at which point the boys would sit in their seats and gobble up all their food, making a huge mess as they did. Mother Frog cleaned up after them.

When they went out to play, the boys croaked, “Gul-gae! Gul-gae! Gul-gae!” This is the Korean word for the sound frogs make, except the boys didn’t say it right. Mother Frog tsked and corrected them.

“No, dears,” she said. “That’s not the right way to say it. It’s gae-gul, gae-gul, gae-gul.” The two frogs just laughed and continued to say it backwards.

Mother Frog swore to herself that she wouldn’t say anything else to them because they were always doing the exact opposite of what she wanted. But she couldn’t help calling out one last time as she went back to the house. “Be careful and don’t get dirty!”

Did those frogs listen to their mother? Most certainly not. They immediately jumped into the mud and played there till it was time to go inside. Then of course they tracked mud all over the house because they were so dirty. To be continued…

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