Dead Cow Pond

About one kilometer east of Haga Village, there is a large pond called Dead Cow Pond. This is how it got its name. 

A long time ago, there lived a certain widow in Haga Village. She had to do all the field work by herself, and was always in need of extra hands. One summer day when it was time to plow the field, she hired a farmhand and told him to go do the plowing. “Rice does the work, rice does the work,” she said. Repeating this proverb over and over, the widow packed the farmhand a full lunch and sent him off to work. The proverb ‘rice does the work’ means that one must eat well in order to work well.  

In the middle of the day, the widow went out to the field in order to see how much the farmhand had gotten done. Rather than plowing, he was lying sound asleep on a small hill in the breeze, snoring away. The cow was among the furrows of the field with the plow attached to it, and the lunchbox was dangling from the plow. The widow yelled at the farmhand, “What are you sleeping for, when you should be plowing the field?” “Well, you kept saying that rice does the work,” he replied.

The farmhand had the nerve to give her a light scolding. Because the widow had kept saying that “rice does the work,” he had of course told his lunch to plow the field, entrusting the task to the food. The widow was so flabbergasted she couldn’t speak. She tore off her skirt and threw it aside, grabbed the plow and started plowing vigorously. In one go without taking a break, she threw herself into the plow and finished eight majiki. This was equivalent to about 3,300 square meters. No farmhand could have finished that much in an entire day’s work.

The woman was unusually strong, but the arduous work left her utterly exhausted. She was so tired and thirsty that she nearly gave up the ghost. The cow‘s thirst was also something fierce. She drove the cow to the pond. It was so desperately thirsty that it recklessly drank and drank without bothering to breathe, and eventually dropped dead right on the spot. Upon seeing this, the widow also died right then and there. Since that time, the pond has been called Dead Cow Pond.

Based on the account given on August 20, 1960, by Mr. Gim Jae-Su of Iho-dong, Jeju City. 

From 99 Legends of Jeju Island, a compilation based on accounts compiled by Professor Hyun Yong-Joon.

Dead Cow Pond : Soe Jugeun Mot : 쇠 죽은 못


   A majigi (마지기) is a Korean unit of measure for farmland. It is based on the amount of land used for one mal (말: about 18 liters) of seed. In Jeju, a majigi is about 100 pyeong (one pyeong: 평: 坪 is about 3.3 square meters) on the east side of the island, but 120 to 130 pyeong on the west side of the island, where the soil is more fertile. So the widow is said to have finished about 3,300 square meters of plowing in a single go.

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