World Migratory Bird Day 2012: Birds and Koreans

In celebration of World Migratory Bird Day, some of our favorite students at the Sunny International Home School came together to share with us their insight on the connection between birds and people within the Republic of Korea. This year’s 2012 theme for World Migratory Bird Day is “Migratory birds and people – together through time” . We are very proud of them and their excellent work! Here’s what they have to say:

Birds are living in Koreans and Korea’s culture and tradition. Just like oxygen which we cannot live without, we forget and don’t think about how much bird has been affecting us in many ways.

Robert (Im, Hyeong-hwan)/ Cody (Kim, Sae-min):

First, a bird that comes across my mind as a kid from Busan is a seagull.

In Busan, we can easily see seagulls. Due to that reason, the seagull became Busan’s city bird. We often see kids from Busan draw seagulls with the ocean. It means we can observe a lot of seagulls because Busan is near the sea.
Also, Cho, Yong-pil, one of the most famous pop singers in my mother’s generation sang a song about a seagull in Busan. I would like to share a part of a lyric of the song with you.

Seagull in Busan
sung by Cho, Yong Pill

Now, where did you forget me?
Soonie, Oh, Soonie!
The name which is as pretty as flowers.
I am at the harbor where waves hit
Many past memories are still lingering in my mind
Seagull in Busan, Seagull in Busan
Did you really forget me?

Alex (Gong, Jiyoon)/ Elisa (Gong, Joo-hyeon)/ Molly (Jang, Seo-yeong):

Second, another kind of bird which is closely connected with Koreans is a magpie.

This bird is breathing deep inside of our Korean tradition. Koreans consider magpies a good bird. We have two new years; our New Year and a magpie’s New Year. People say that magpie’s New Year is a day before our new year. Ours changes every year because we follow the lunar calendar. Therefore, their new year also changes every year. It is evidence that magpies are very close to Korean people. The magpies appear in our New Year song.

Magpie~ Magpie’s New Year is yesterday
Our~ our new year is today
A pretty~ pretty hair band I am putting on
I wear a new pair of shoes myself
My sister’s shirt is yellow.
My younger sister’s shirt is colorful one
My dad & mom are happy
They are enjoying our greetings
At our backyard, set a long board
Bring a table in and crack all sorts of nuts
Ride a seesaw on the board with my sister
I like it very much


까치 까치 설날은 어저께고요
우리 우리 설날은 오늘이래요
곱고 고운 댕기도 내가 들이고
새로 사온 신발도 내가 신어요
우리 언니 저고리 노랑 저고리
우리 동생 저고리 색동 저고리
아버지와 어머니 호사하시고
우리들의 절 받기 좋아하셔요
우리 집 뒤뜰에는 널을 놓고서
상 들이고 잣 까고 호두 까면서
언니하고 정답게 널을 뛰고
나는 나는 좋아요 참말 좋아요

A magpie shows and brings good signs or news to Koreans. When the magpie visits our houses, my grandmother used to say someone, who we have been expecting to see, might visit us soon.

Long long time ago, when our tooth fell out, we threw it over the roof. Then, we believed that a magpie would come, take an old tooth and bring a new tooth. There is also a traditional song that we sing while we are tossing the tooth over the roof.

Magpie! Magpie! (까치야 까치야)

까치야 까치야 헌 이 줄게 새 이 다오
Magpie, Magpie! Please, take my old tooth bring me a new one.
까치야 까치야 헌 이 줄게 새 이 다오
Magpie, Magpie! Please, take my old tooth bring me a new one.

Daniel (Gu, Seonghyeon)/ Tim (Shin, Yoonjae):

Third, a swallow is another special bird to Koreans.

This bird used to build its house in our farmer’s home. I heard that they leave a home where a spouse doesn’t live together.

We also could tell the weather through the way of swallows’ flying. When they fly close to the ground, then Koreans expect it might rain. When it is cloudy, insects also know it will rain so that they start find places to hide. Therefore, the swallows which need to eat those insects, that are flying low or finding places to hide, automatically fly close to the ground. Koreans learned things from observing the birds.

There is a well-known Korean folktale, which a swallow appears. The story is “Heungbu and Nolbu.” Here, the swallow teaches what goes around comes around.

Heungbu and Nolbu

Hengbu and Nolbu were a family. Heungbu had seven kids and was really poor. But Nolbu did not share any inheritance from his father with his younger brother, Heungbu.

One day, a swallow fell down into Heungbu’s house, and his leg got broken. Heungbu fixed his broken leg. The swallow came back with a gourd seed in his mouth. A few days later, the seed became an enormous gourd. Heungbu and his wife opened the gourd with a saw and there came tremendous amount of money and gold from it. And he became a rich man.

Nolbu heard about it and wanted to have the fortune.

One day, he caught a swallow, broke his leg on purpose and cured it. That swallow brought a seed. A few days later, an enormous gourd grew out of the seed. Nolbu cut it open. And there came goblins and ogres out of it and took all his money and clothes. After all, he became very poor.

He went to Heungbu and asked him for forgiveness. Heungbu delightfully accepted his apology and they lived happily ever after.

Connor (Yun, Connor Junhyeok):

Fourth, birds are also used to describe Korean’s voices. It is an oriole.

If you have a good voice or singing voice, most Koreans say “your voice is as beautiful as an oriole/꾀꼬리 같은 목소리를 가지셨군요.”

Orioles are also in a Korea’s famous pop song. It is “I Can’t find an Oriole” sung by Cho, Yong-pil.

I Can’t find Oriole

I Can’t find Oriole
Oriole! Oriole!
I’m again the seek today
I Can’t find Oriole
Oriole! Oriole!
I’m always the seek
Oh! Oh! Oh!
Whenever it’s getting dark
And I stand in a small ally
Hide & seek that I played when I was young
Will bring to my memory
Hide, everybody!
Walking up and down restlessly
Because of scary thoughts
I ended up crying

못 찾겠다 꾀꼬리

못 찾겠다 꾀꼬리
꾀꼬리 꾀꼬리
나는야 오늘도 술래
못 찾겠다 꾀꼬리
꾀꼬리 꾀꼬리
나는야 언제나 술래
워 워 워
어두워져 가는
골목에 서면
어린 시절 술래잡기
생각이 날 거야
모두다 숨어버려
무서운 생각에
난 그만 울어버렸지

We would like to express our appreciation for Mr. Jason Loghry who gave us opportunity to consider, gather and organize our ideas and knowledge about connections between birds and Koreans.

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