KBS Channel have been running a series of Korean ghost storiesevery week that is aired in Astro channel.
Today, I watched a love story of the 9 tailed spirit fox- that is both touching but gave a valuable lesson. So I would narrate out the story here in my own words:
In ancient time, a family of fox spirits known asKitsune stayed in the forests. The family, consist of the father, mother and daughter fox spirits were constantly being hunted by hunters. The fox spirits were hunted because their 9 tails can cure any illness and there is cash reward for it. As the hunters finally got to the father and killed him in cold blood, the mother fox requested for her daughter to turn into a human being. The condition is that she is required to live as a wife of a man for 1000 days- and the man must never abandon her.
The fox spirits could disguise themselves in human form without being found out except when viewing them through a special gemstone and using dogs- fox spirits are afraid of dogs. So the hunters would use hunting dogs to trace them down.
One day, the daughter fox spirit got chased by the hunters with their dogs- she was running for her life (in her beautiful human maiden form) when she met a poor young man digging through some soil. The man attempted to protect her from the dogs and got bitten in the process. He then took her back to his home and together with his mom, they nursed her back to health (they did not know that she is the fox spirit).
Both of them were later married- but on the night of the marriage, the girl could not bear to even kiss him because the man had some skin disease. The man humbly say it is okay, that love would take time to be developed. That night, the woman went out and her mother (the fox mother spirit) came to look for her and insisted that she really learn to take care of her husband. Wouldn’t she want to be a human instead of a fox spirit who led a wretched life and constantly live in fear of being hunted down and killed by hunters? The mom warned that she needed to be careful because on a full moon night, a child would be able to see her real look- as a fox spirit. And the man has a little sister of about 10 years old.
So she went back and try her best to be a good wife to her husband. Her husband also loved her dearly (he still did not know who she really is). One day, a corrupted government official came and wanted to confiscate their family’s live stocks and barley. The husband tried to stop him, begged him to have mercy as he has just gotten married and they need to feed their family. The official eyed a precious gem that the woman was carrying and snatched it away from her. The husband tried to get it back and accidentally pushed and injured the official. As the result, he was being badly beaten by the corrupted judge and nearly died.
On a full moon night, the husband’s mom, along with the young girl tried to pray for his life. The young girl, turned and saw her sister-in-law in her real form- as a fox spirit. She fainted out of fright.
That night, the fox spirit/wife was boiling some medicine for her husband. As she was touched by the heroic move displayed by her husband, she decided to cut off one of her tails to use it to boil medicine to save her husband. It was painful and the little girl saw that the spirit had cut off her tail to save him.
Anyway, to cut the long story short, the fox spirit had gradually fell in love with the man because the man was humble, kind and sacrificed a lot for her. At first, she had taught that all humans were evil and greedy (because they were always hunting her family down) but her husband was different. She led the man to a cave where salt is stored (before people knew that salt could be mined from the sea, it was a very expensive commodity) and could have his face washed in a special pond that could cure his skin disease.
As the result of discovering the salt, the man soon grew to be a very rich merchant. The family shifted to town and lived in luxury. One day, the hunters spotted the fox lady and managed to injure her with special fox poison- that has not effect on humans but would scar the face of a fox spirit. The fox spirit’s mother tried to divert the hunters, was caught and was burned alive. The daughter watched her mom (picture on the left) from afar being burned to death. She now family member left except her husband and his family.
Unfortunately, richness turned her husband into a greedy and ungrateful man. Seeing that his wife’s face was partially disfigured, he went on to visit courtesans and went gambling. He spent all his money on richness on gambling, wine and women- till his money was running out. He then went home and scolded his wife and insulted her about her face. Even his mother, who the richness had gotten over her head, asked her to mine for some salt herself to earn some money for the family.
Eventually, the husband’s mistress sold him out by informing the corrupted district officer on the location of the cave where the salt could be mined. The husband now had lost everything and was thrown to jail. In the jail, he recalled some past events that led him to believe that his wife could be a fox spirit. You know what he did?
In order not to be poor again, he sold her identity out to the hunters- to get out of jail and get cash rewards. The fox spirit had not been killing any living beings during that duration that she was his wife but once she knew she was being sold out- she knew she had no more chance of turning into a human being. In her anger and also to revenge the death of her parents, she killed all the hunters.
But she spared the life of her husband. Her husband was crying and apologising. She threw a bow and some arrows to her husband and told him that if he wanted to, he may kill her for cash reward. She said that it would be her final gift to him…. for falling in love with him. She then turned her back and walked slowly away.
Past love scenes between the two flashed before his mind- how as a poor couple, their love was real and innocent. Yet, he decided that he did not want to be poor anymore. So he aimed the arrow at his wife’s back (what kind of coward will shoot a woman from the back)- the first shot missed and hit a tree. The fox spirit paused and walked slowly. The second arrow also missed- but hit his little sister who happened to be running towards them.
Now, the fox spirit and the little girl had shared a close sister-ship- they liked each other. The little girl had knew she was a fox spirit but saw through the kindness of her heart- the fact that his spirit had cut her own tail to save her brother. The fox spirit was devastated when the arrow hit the little girl. She turned and looked at the man with anger- in his greed, he killed his own little sister.
As she walked towards him, he keep going backwards, till he slipped and fell to his death (they were at the upper part of the rock hill).
The moral of the story:
There is no end to human greed. Money is a magnifier- unfortunately, most of the time, it gradually strip a person of his good values if not careful. This would eventually bring a person to his ruin one day.
Even though the standard of our lives have improved, we should never forget our humble origins.