2024 Sejong Writing Competition

Winning Entries :: Essays :: Junior first place
Folktale: Shimchong

Title: Tenacious Shimchong

Shimchong: The Blind Man’s Daughter is a story about Shimchong, who was much more than an obedient girl but a heroic inspiration to many. A daughter who threw herself into the East Sea, for her dad’s sake to regain his eyesight. When I first heard of Shimchong’s story, I was impressed by her brave choice to sacrifice herself. This korean folktale describes Shimchong as a visionary and brave girl who overcame the challenges she faced by using the resources around her.

Shimchong’s mother passed away as Shimchong was born and her father did his best to raise his daughter alone. This strengthened the bond between Shimchong and her father, Sym Hakkyu. Shimchong empowered herself to support her blind father. In the story, “...who accompanied her father as soon as she could walk and begged alms with him the moment she could speak.” When Shimchong found out about her father's promise of 300 sacks of rice to a monk, she decided to sacrifice herself for her loving father’s sake. She must have been terrified, however she became brave to achieve her goal of saving her loving father. Later in the story, “The sailors all wept copiously with their admiration for her bravery…” I couldn’t fathom her decision to sacrifice herself for her father’s sake. Shimchong’s filial piety was embodied as she sacrificed herself to help her father.

When Shimchong opened her eyes, she was in Dragon King’s underwater palace. She spent time with her mother delightedly. However, after a while, she grew homesick. The Dragon King pitied her, so he transformed her into the beautiful lotus flower. A Lotus flower signifies the journey of overcoming obstacles and achieving enlightenment.

In spite of getting married to the King, Shimchong was miserable, because she longed to meet her loving father. One day, Shimchong was told to ask for anything she wished for. Shimchong asked for a party to which all the blind men would be invited. This is important because it shows that Shimchong planned the solution to her problem by herself. Despairing over a seemingly hopeless challenge would have been the easiest option to make. However, Shimchong was able to be reunited with her father by planning strategically.

One of the recurring themes of Korean folktales is filial piety. Shimchong’s story demonstrates Shimchong as an ideal symbol of a filial and dutiful daughter. However, I interpret Shimchong as an enterprising and determined woman who overcame the challenges she faced by not losing hope over a desperate situation but by looking further and devising the solutions. In addition, Shimchong’s story tells children not to give up easily, but to go through problems despite their seemingly hopelessness. Furthermore, it teaches children to be brave and audacious to obtain what they want. In my opinion, the story of Shimchong: The Blind Man’s Daughter was written to teach children not only the theme of filial piety but also the importance of continuing to try and be enterprising and audacious.

From Shimchong, I learned not to give up and keep trying. In the summer, I went to the 3-mile race. As I ran, my stomach began to hurt, and I desperately wanted to quit. However, I started to think about what Shimchong did to overcome the challenges faced, and how hard she tried to attain her goal. When I finally made a decision to quit or not, I started to run again. When I made it to the end, I was proud of myself even though I didn’t receive any prizes.

I relate to Shimchong most. I believe Shimchong was an ideal daughter and dutiful child who had a strong sense of filial piety. This selfless act of filial piety leaves her to be resurrected and become an empress, and her father’s blindness is cured. Honesty is the best policy. If I were Shimchong, I would go to the monk and explain our financial problem, and how we can't afford the 300 sacks of rice. Instead of sacrificing myself, I would have appealed to reduce the amount of donation to 150 sacks of rice.

In conclusion, Shimchong: The Blind Man’s Daughter teaches the readers to be filial daughters or sons. The lesson of this story is that one would get rewarded if one becomes filial to parents. If I were Shimchong, I would have spoken to the monk to reduce the amount of donations. I think it’s important to persevere and to keep at something in spite of difficulties or discouragements. In the following years, the perspective of what ideal children should be changed. I will be the new Shimchong who has filial piety, and also who has the ability to keep going despite hopelessness.