A traditional Korean folktale retold by UiKi Lee and Justin
This is a story about a faithful tiger and a clever woodsman. A long time ago, there was a diligent woodsman who had to take care of his old mother. One day, the woodsman went to the forest to chop fire wood. Suddenly, a hungry tiger appeared and roared loudly. He was really afraid, but he concentrated on his situation to find out the way for escape. Finally, he got an idea. Unexpectedly, he grabbed the tiger's knee and started to cry.
Woodsman : "Oh, my brother. Finally, I've met you. Our mother was always worried about you. Where've you been?" He kept crying. The tiger was confused.
Tiger : "How can I be your brother, you fool? Me? A man? Don't joke with me! I'm going to eat you right now!"
The woodsman acted like he was surprised.
Woodsman : "Don't you recognize me? Don't you remember? When you were a child, you went to the forest to chop wood but never come back. Mom had a dream you turned into a tiger. That's why you couldn't come back. Mom still worries about you and wishes for your return. Let's go and see Mom, please. She will be so happy to see you."
The Tiger believed him completely.
Tiger : "I have a mother waiting for me at home? I cannot see Mom with an ugly face like this. Please take care of her for me.
"Woodsman : "I promise, I will do my best."
Then, the tiger disappeared, and the woodsman returned home safely. The next morning, the woodsman found food in his front yard. He was surprised, but finally realized that it was the tiger that had done this. After that, the the woodsman would find foods in his front yard once in a while. The woodsman kept his promise to the tiger by doing his best to keep his mother well. With the help of the tiger, the woodsman had enough to feed his family and had a happy life.
For years, the tiger continued to hunt for the family. Then one day, the mother died. That night, the woodsman heard the tiger crying all night long. After that, no one saw the tiger again, but he hoped that he might run into the tiger again. Then one day, the woodsman stopped by his mother's grave, as usual, after chopping wood in the forest. He was surprised; there was a scrawny looking tiger lying in front of the grave.
Woodsman: "Oh, my dear brother!" The woodcutter hugged the tiger and began to cry. The tiger that had been unconscious with hunger, looked up at the woodsman.
Tiger : "Oh, is it you, my brother?"
Woodsman : "What's happened to you?"
Tiger : "How can I live? My mother is dead. I didn't do anything for her when she was alive, so now I have no reason to live. It was my pleasure that I had a chance to hunt food for her."
With those few words, the tiger died with a peaceful tear on his face. The woodsman was deeply moved by the tiger's devotion for his mother. He buried the tiger next to his mother and took care of both graves for the rest of his life.