All of us sometimes think these crazy thoughts, don't we? I was sitting on the sofa and delaying going to the kitchen to make coffee and I thought, what if when I went into the kitchen I found another me? Who then, would be the real me? And imagine my surprise when I came across this Korean folk tale while browsing the net! Here's the tale in my own words. When you read it, you'll know why I was so surprised.
A Folk Tale from Korea
Kim Su-ik was intent on learning Chinese. And so after his duties as a magistrate were done, he sat at his desk working away at the language exercises late into the night. One such night, he suddenly felt very hungry and called out to his wife.
“I don’t know why, but I feel very hungry. Can you get me something to eat?”
It was very late in the night. They had all had their supper hours before. The servants had closed down the kitchen and gone to bed.
“There’s nothing in the house except a few chestnuts. Shall I roast them for you?” asked the wife.
“That would be a good idea,” replied Kim Su-ik and continued with his studies.
Sometime later the door to his study opened and his wife entered with a basket.
“Thankfully, the kitchen fire had not died down fully. I could roast the chestnuts on the embers,” she said.
Kim Su-ik took the basket from her and set it down on his desk. She too seated herself in front of him and waited.
Just then the door opened again. His wife entered with a basket. Kim Su-ik looked from one woman to the other. They looked exactly the same as though someone had made copies by mistake.
“Who are you?” asked the woman seated in front of his desk.
“And who are you?” asked the one who had just entered.
They circled each other, both looking exactly alike and surprised at the other.
Kim Su-ik gestured for them to be silent. He accepted the basket the second woman had brought and set it on his table. Then he did something surprising. He caught hold of each woman’s hand and held them firmly.
The hours passed and soon through the windows, the pre-dawn light entered. They could hear the cocks crowing. The woman whose right hand Kim Su-ik was holding started to squirm and wriggle to free herself from his grip. But Kim Su-ik held firm. Then, as the sun rose the woman changed into a wild cat. Kim Su-ik was so surprised, he let go and in a flash the wild cat-woman escaped through the door.
Was it the woman who entered first or second? He could not remember. But, he was thankful he had not eaten the chestnuts.