2008 Sejong Writing Competition

Winning Entries :: Essays :: Junior second place tie

The Green Frog
Sharon Bae

There was a time when we expected nothing of our children but obedience." When Anatole Broyard asserted this, he meant that many young people do not obey their parents and simply ignore their instructions. In Korea, parent-child relationships are considered primary. Many children obey their parents and do what they tell them to do; however, some children do the opposite. I remember being told the story of the Green Frog when I was a little girl. The subject of this age-old tale is "obedience" This subject is developed into the theme 'always obey your parents' through the actions of the characters. When I was a young, like the frog, I always disobeyed my parents. Now that I'm more mature and old enough to understand why not to  disregard the wishes of my parents, I would say that I'm more like the mother who always behaves as expected and tries to make the right choices. 

First off, many Korean Folktales have lessons that teach goodness or correctness of character and behavior. In my opinion, the story of the Green Frog best reflects the theme through the qualities of each character and his or her actions. In the story, the green frog never listens to his mother, and the mother frog worries about what she will do with her son because he causes her so much distress and embarrassment. The mother frog scolds the green frog and tries to teach him the proper way to behave, but he continues to ignore her and does just as he wishes. Like most rebellious children, the green frog in this Korean folktale loves to disobey his mother. When I was younger, I was like this. I remember one time when I got in big trouble. I was told not to let the frogs out, but I purposely did to scare my mom. Therefore, I can relate to his lack of respect.

Although I identify with the green frog in my youth, nowadays I am more like the mother who always tries to make the right choices. We both share the same qualities. For example, I always have to tell my brother what to do and what not to do, and I have to carry all the burdens. I really admire how she told her son the opposite because she knew that he would do the opposite of what she asked. She shows bravery, cleverness, and trust in herself. She makes the brave decision to trust herself and her instincts, even though it meant being honest with herself about her son’s shortcomings.

However, if I were in her situation, I would leave the young green frog to make a right choice and trust his judgment. In the story, the mother frog is worried that he will do the opposite of what she asks and bury her by the stream, so she chooses her words carefully and tells him to bury her on the bank of the river, which of course does not work. The mother frog does not trust his son.  Although it was clever of her to predict his actions and accept his behavior in on deathbed, she should have had more trust in him. There was a time when I had to make the brave decision to trust someone, even when it was not the smartest choice. I told my brother to take the money to buy our mom a present for her birthday, but instead he bought computer games. I knew that it was not the smartest choice, but I trusted him because he was my brother. Sometimes demonstrating trust is more important than getting what we want.

The Green Frog teaches children a moral through the traits and behaviors of each character. In the story, the green frog never listens to his mother. Like the green frog, many kids do not obey their parents, and later they end up in tragedy.