In English, they start with “Once upon a time…”. In Catalan with, “In a corner of the world where everybody had a nose…” and in Korea, you know it’s a fairytale the instant you hear, “Once, in the old days, when tigers smoked…”.
That’s the thing about folktales: they’re almost universal but every culture and country has its own unique way of telling them. Parents hand down these little parcels of storytelling joy to their children until those children hand them on in their turn. Once wholly oral traditions, then stories we heard read at bedtime, they’re now audiobooks, movies, and much else. Everybody, even adults, loves fairy tales because they belong to us, our childhood, and our children. They bring the same joy now they once brought to our grandparents and to our great, great-grandparents.
If every folktale has a moral, perhaps the moral of today’s story is: ‘Use it. Or lose it.’ Because there’s a real worry we’re losing these ancient storytelling traditions. That generations of joy are slowly fading away, overshadowed by a world of instant, on-demand entertainment.
Bring on the good fairies
But not so fast. We’re far from the end of our tale, and there are still good fairies alive in the kingdom. And they’re casting their spell again, in Korea, with new and ever more imaginative ways to sprinkle stardust in our eyes.
Curious 12 Tales is a multimedia exhibition at Insa Central Museum organized by media production firm Design Silverfish and sponsored by Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Korea Creative Content Agency. The exhibition is deeply immersed in both ancient folklore and the most modern technology. Christie D20WU-HS 1DLP® laser projectors, four-sided media mirrors, and sensor-driven augmented reality holograms power tales that Korean grandparents’ grandparents would recognize. Tales like “The Old Stories that Began with Stone and Wood,” “The Moon and the Rabbit,” “We Live with the Household Gods,” and “Your Very Own Guardian Spirit.” The curious thing is that audiences, both young and old, Korean and international, are equally enraptured. There’s a universal — almost comforting — truth to many of these stories. They have, after all, stood the test of time and eons of retelling, and the joy they bring shines as brightly now as it ever did — once we get the chance to experience them.
Where good hearts prosper
Unless we continue to tell and retell our stories, they’ll fade into memories. And it’s our duty to tell them with the best technology we can. Once, it would have been a master storyteller around the village fire, now we can use laser light and enhanced reality. However we tell them, the joy of these tales and their simple messages remain. We belong to them as much as they belong to us, they’re places where good hearts prosper and evil deeds are punished. They’re about being human and the joy of being human.
With events like Curious 12 Tales to keep them alive, storytelling endures and everyone will live happily ever after with their own tale to pass on. And that’s how it should be. In Chile, every fairytale begins the same way —”‘Listen to tell it and tell it to teach it” because you’ll pass on nothing but joy when you do. Keep saying “Once upon a time” and the fairytale will never end.