Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with Jia Kim

Kim, Jia
Gasperson, Deana
Date of Interview: 
Stories and storytellers; Cultural identification
Jia Kim tells two folktales about a tiger and a Korean Cinderella story.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Deana Gasperson interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
DG (Deana Gasperson): Hi, Jia.
JK (Jia Kim): Hi.
DG: Uh, I really appreciate you helping me out with this project-.
JK: Uh-huh.
DG: -For one of our classes at UNCC and-.
JK: You're welcome. [Laughter]
DG: One question, where are you from?
JK: I am from Korea, South Korea.
DG: South Korea?
JK: Uh-huh.
DG: What city?
JK: Inchon City.
DG: Inchon?
JK: Yes.
DG: Where is that in relationship to Seoul?
JK: Um, you mean how-.
DG: Seoul, is it north, south, east, west?
JK: Oh, mine is, our city is like west side.
DG: OK, west side.
JK: Uh-huh.
DG: How long have you been-?
JK: Two years.
DG: -In the United States?
JK: Two years.
DG: Two years. How long have you been in Charlotte?
JK: Oh, one and a half year.
JK: Uh, yeah.
DG: Well for the project we're doing at UNCC-.
JK: Uh-huh.
DG: -Is it OK if I tape you-.
JK: Uh-huh.
DG: For this, and also to record, we're going to be, record this and transcribe, scribe this for, I guess further research there at UNCC.
DG: Is that OK?
JK: Um-hmm, of course.
DG: All right. In this class we're discussing really, I think, growing up. And are there stories that you remember-.
JK: Um-hmm.
DG: -As a child growing up \\ in Korea \\ that you could tell me about?
JK: \\ Uh-huh. \\ Yeah, so that means you want me to tell the story?
DG: Yes.
JK: When I, when I was young.
DG: Yeah, but you can think of any stories-.
DG: -When you were young that maybe your parents told you or, or maybe that you read or favorite books that you enjoyed reading.
JK: I think, um, when I was six years old, I stayed with my grandmom.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: And she usually tell a story every night.
DG: Oh.
JK: And I remember one story. There is a boy and girl and grandmom. And there is, there is a village long, long time ago and the boy and girl. [Pause] It's OK like this?
DG: \\ Uh-huh. \\
JK: \\ Can you \\ understand me?
DG: Right, I can \\ understand you. \\
JK: \\ OK, \\ OK. Um, they don't have parents. So they live with grandmom.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: Like I did before. And um, they are very poor. And one day Grandma was invited the festival another village.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: So she has to go there, um, but children cannot go because she has to work.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: So before she leave, and Grandma, Grandmom leave for festival uh, she asked child, "Children not to open the door," but her. So they got promised each other and Grandmom left.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: And, um, in the party Grandmom got a rice cake. We have rice cake, special food. So she got, um, ten rice cakes for her grandchild, grandchildren.
DG: Hmm.
JK: And, um, the way, the way home, uh, she met, um, tiger.
DG: Oh.
JK: And the tiger ask her to give rice cakes, everything.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: But she, um Grandmom, begged to tiger, "Please, um, I can't give you everything because I have to, I want to give some to my grandchildren. So please." And she begged. So tiger agreed so he just got one.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: And the funny, thing, uh, she has to go ten mountains.
DG: Oh goodness.
JK: And each, each mountain the tiger appear.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: And ask rice cake one by one.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: So at last she gave everything, ten rice, ten rice cakes. And, after all there is nothing else, nothing left.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: And the tiger said, "I really want to rice, rice cake." And she said, um, "I don't have anymore." And so that tiger ate her, the grandmom.
DG: Oh, goodness.
JK: [Laugh] And, and then, uh, he, I mean the tiger, um, knowed, uh, knew that, uh, knew the place where grandchild, grandchildren.
DG: Oh.
JK: So he went there and he knocked the door. "Hello. Um, I am your grandmom. Please, open the door." And they said, "Please, show the, your, your hand. So we can figure out who you are." So tiger show, uh, shaved her hair and then show them his hand. Of course it doesn't look like Grandmom. So the children didn't open the door.
DG: Hmm, uh-huh.
JK: And the tiger at con-, continually begged to open the door.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: "Please, open the door." And the eldest, elder child said to him, "No, your voice is not, that's like my grandmom, so we can't, um, we can't open the door because we promised her not to open the d-, door to stranger." And tiger said to him, "You know I got tired and I got, you know, I got um, cold so my voice so my voice is changed." Blah, blah, blah, and children believed that.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: So at last they open the door.
DG: Right.
JK: And of course, they knew that is not Grandmom, tiger.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: So they try to ran away.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: And there is a one big tree in, in front the house, so the children climbed there. [Pause] Yeah and then, um, yeah they are, they are really good at climbing because that's their playing game.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: So they climbed it really easily. But tiger couldn't, you know, the animal cannot. So the tiger asked them, "How did you get there?" And then they said, "You know we, we put some oil in our hands, on our hands, so you'd better get some oil." And tiger said, "Where can I get some oil? Olive oil?" And then they said, "In the kitchen." The tiger got some oil put on his hand and tried it. Of course he failed. And that's, that's why tiger got angry. So he try to find the wood cutter.
DG: Oh.
JK: So he starts cut that tree.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: And meantime, the children pray to God.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: "God please, save us." And they prayed and God, uh, listen to their, of course this is not Christian God, another God.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: God, uh, listen to their prayer and he, he sent down the rope.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: And they, that's why they could, uh, catch the rope and then they could go up and up, up, up to the heaven. And tiger saw that and he repent first, at first. "God for-, forgive me," and, and so that God gave him the rope, another rope.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: And all the, all the way go up, um, tiger pretend repenting.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: But he was not. So almost got there, he want to catch the children.
DG: Oh.
JK: At the time God cut the rope.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: Yeah, that story.
DG: Oh, very good.
JK: Yeah. So do you have, do you have this kind of story in your country?
DG: No. Well, I don't really remember, I started to say this one thing probably about different cultures is I don't remember hearing. I remember some fairyt-, tales-.
JK: Uh-huh.
DG: -Or stories that were told but to be honest to be able to, uh, relate one of those as clearly as you did.
JK: Yeah.
DG: I, I couldn't do it. I guess I have, either haven't heard them enough, could be age, but-.
JK: [Laugh] Yeah.
DG: [Laugh] But, uh, very good. I've noticed with, uh, students, especially Asian students, to be able to tell stories, it's a gift-.
JK: Uh-huh.
DG: -To be able to relate that.
JK: We have another tiger story.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: I, I think we don't have a lion in our country at that time, \\ a long time ago. So it was in. \\
DG: \\ So your stories really deal with tigers. \\
JK: Yeah, tiger. And another story one, one tiger really hungry.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: Gets hungry. So he wants to eat, but that night's so cold that any animal-.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: -Appear. So, er, um, tiger went down to the village.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: And he can hear the child is crying. So he, he planned to eat that child. And he approached the house and, of course, the cry-, the child is crying, crying. In Korea whenever we, whenever we cry, the adults say this, um, "If you cry continually tiger will catch you and-."
DG: Oh.
JK: "-Ti-, tiger will bring you to the mountain." So we have that sentence. Anyway, that night also the mother told child, "If you, child, if you cry continually tiger will catch you," you know, but the baby didn't stop-.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: -Crying, and, at last th-, his mom, I mean baby's mom, told her, him, you know, "I going to give you rice cake."
DG: Hmm.
JK: "If, you you stop crying." And at the time, yeah, baby stopped.
DG: Oh, yes.
JK: Because he likes.
DG: Rice cakes.
JK: Rice cake. But tiger thought, "Oh my goodness. I'm really wildest, I'm the, I'm the wildest animal in the world. Maybe rice cake is more strong than es-, strong than I am." So he ran away. Yeah, that story.
DG: Oh, goodness.
JK: I remember that.
DG: Very good.
JK: Yeah.
DG: So tigers are used a lot.
JK: Yeah.
DG: In your stories?
JK: Yeah, yeah I think so, because we don't have lion at the time.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: Yeah.
DG: So like these stories like your, are they carried down from like generation to generation like your, \\ your grandmother told your mother and father and then. \\
JK: \\ Yeah, I think so. \\ Uh-huh. Maybe someday I'm going tell my children.
DG: Yeah, well I would think so.
JK: Yeah.
DG: It's something that's like a heritage that you pass it down \\ from one \\ generation to the next which is very good. I think that's wonderful.
JK: \\ That's right. \\ You know what? Um, Cinderella?
DG: Cinderella, yes.
JK: Uh-huh, we have almost same kind of story.
DG: Oh, OK.
JK: But the differences, you know, the, um-.
DG: Does a lion come into the story?
JK: Yes.
DG: In Cinderella?
JK: I mean, in Korea we have Cinderella.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: In, in, in Korean. But we have another Cinderella, Korean Cinderella story.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: Definitely different, I mean different character.
DG: Oh, OK.
JK: And your Cinderella has two, uh \\ stepsisters. \\
DG: \\ Stepsisters.\\
JK: Stepsisters. But-.
DG: And bad stepmother.
JK: Yes, but or-, original our Korean Cinderella has just one stepsister.
DG: Oh, OK.
JK: And this time you showed angel, appeared angel to help Cinderella right?
DG: No, who? Fairy godmother?
JK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
DG: A fairy godmother comes in.
JK: Yeah, but in Korean-.
DG: I had to think.
JK: Yeah, in Korean Cinderella, uh, appear cow.
DG: A cow?
JK: Cow helped, cow helped landing. Because she meet stepmother, uh, before she going to the festival. She ordered to the Cinderella \\ and \\ we have another name, Kon-gy.
DG: \\ Uh-huh. \\ Kon-gy?
JK: Yeah. Uh, three jobs. One is landing.
JK: One is, um, pour the water in the big jar-.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: -And the, the making clothe.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: So the landing, the cow help her.
DG: Now, landing?
JK: Yeah, when, what's that? Um.
DG: Shoveling? \\ Before like shoveling? \\
JK: \\ Before yeah, \\ yes, yes, before you spread the seed.
DG: OK. So you're like planting?
JK: OK, \\ planting. \\
DG: \\ Planting. \\ So you're planting, you're digging-.
JK: Uh-huh. Yes.
DG: -In the ground. So she planted and then she?
JK: Cow helped her.
DG: The cow? OK.
JK: OK, and then, um, when and she has to pour, pure?
DG: Pour?
JK: Pour the water.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: In the jar, the mom, stepmom break the bottom.
DG: Oh. So the water, it won't fill?
JK: Yeah.
DG: You can't fill the jar?
JK: Yeah. \\ That time. \\
DG: \\ She was, \\ she was mean.
JK: Yeah, that time frog helped.
DG: Oh. OK.
JK: [Laugh] And then when she has to, um, makes clothe-.
DG: Uh-huh.
JK: -That time bird help.
DG: OK. Burrow?
JK: Bird, birds.
DG: Birds helped.
JK: Yeah.
DG: OK. Oh well, I never had thought, but I think, in fact in, maybe in, class one time we looked at the various, uh, tales, fairy tales and to see in different countries, how various ones have, they're in every culture but different things, such as what you shared. OK. Well, thank you very much. I really appreciate you sharing today.
JK: Oh, OK.
DG: Very much. I really enjoyed those stories.
JK: OK, thank you.
DG: All right, have a good day.
JK: You too.