2014 Sejong Writing Competition

Winning Entries :: Essays :: Junior second place
A Small Frog's Big Impact

In “The Green Frog” folk tale, children learn many valuable and relatable lessons that will have a life changing impact on the way they treat others and behave; the folk tale uses examples from a young, naughty frog that can’t seem to obey his mother. Despite her continuous attempts to correct his behavior, the frog continues to do the opposite of his mom’s requests. Upon growing old and weak, she knew he would disobey her, so she asked to be buried by the riverside when she passes away. She actually wanted to be buried on the mountain because the rising river would wash away her grave. Suddenly, the young frog felt great remorse for always making his mother’s life torturous. For once, he decided to listen to her and buried her on the river, but just like the mother predicted, her grave was washed away, and the frog was forever miserable. The important life lessons and knowledge acquired from the storyline in Heinz Insu Fenkl’s translation of “The Green Frog” are still accurate and relatable today because of their focus on friendly comportment and admiration toward adults.

This tale conveys many messages about respect and how to act, especially to their elders. The frog’s misfortunes are used to display this message to children by showing that misconduct and disrespect always end badly, and every action and decision comes with a consequence. Like the misbehaving frog, choosing to disobey elders puts others’ lives in danger, and the results of hurtful actions are often heartbreaking. A personal example of the consequences of ignoring adults has recently occurred in my life; during my trip to the New York Islands, my friend’s parents told us to wear our life jackets while swimming to the beach because a storm was blowing in, and the riptides were stronger than ever as wave after wave powerfully crashed into the shore. On a normal day, we would not wear our life jackets because the swim is so short, so we decided to disobey her parents and jump. After a tiring thirty minutes, we had only swum about six or seven feet, and we were growing tired, but we could barely swim back to the dock even with our best efforts. Had the current been any stronger, we would’ve drowned, but luckily, we made it back to their island on our last stroke of energy. Similar to the frog, this life-changing experience was enough to convince me to always obey the advice of elders. In the folk tale, the frog was upset and distressed for the rest of his days when his mother’s grave was washed away because of his actions. In my daily life, I often speak before thinking and accidentally hurt my close friends’ feelings; hurting others’ feelings makes me feel like a terrible person and causes much distress. For example, I often make snide comments that sound very rude because I’m in a bad mood, and later on, I feel really bad because my friends became upset and mad at me. I have a sassy personality, and sometimes my big mouth gets the best of me; this really upsets me because I hate making my peers feel bad about themselves, and I want everyone to be my friend and enjoy my company. Once, I picked a fight with my friend because I was grumpy and felt terrible, and she ignored me for almost a week. I felt so alone and upset, but now I can avoid hurting others and feeling these negative emotions by using the knowledge I acquired from this Korean folk tale. The young frog taught me to always think about how the actions and words I utilize will impact my surroundings, and I also feel that “The Green Frog” made me realize that being kind is more important than maintaining my ego. By applying the frog’s realizations to their daily life, kids can avoid the distress and guilt of hurting a loved one and have more positive relations with others.

“The Green Frog” is also relatable in my daily life at age fourteen. Like other modern American teenagers, I often feel the need to challenge the opinions of my elders and do my own thing; similarly, the young frog always disobeyed his mother and disagreed with her teachings. After reading this folk tale, I think through my thoughts and words before I speak because I know now that all actions done with bad intentions will come with dreadful consequence. In my opinion, this story is successful in teaching adolescent readers because they realize that they often make similar mistakes to the young frog, and they don’t want to spend their lives in misery because they failed to change their attitude and behavior towards their mentors. “The Green Frog” taught me that the elders in my life are almost always right, and being respectful is more important than being right.

“The Green Frog” story’s morals about how to act should be taken seriously, for in the real-word, people often encounter situations in which they must choose between doing what’s right and following their own ideas. Although it is important to contribute unique thoughts into everyday activities, it’s crucial to analyze the instruction of others especially older and more experienced individuals. This folk tale influences children to listen to their parents’ life lessons and fills their minds with many ideas of the consequences which come from misbehaving. Using the teachings seen from the young frog’s actions in the tale of “The Green Frog,” readers learn influential and eye-opening messages about proper conduct and actions that are applicable to the lives of adolescents everywhere, and I, for one, will forever keep these important morals in mind as I speak and interact with the individuals around me.