Kongjwi and Patjwi

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Kongji and Patzzi (Hangul: 콩쥐 팥쥐, also romanized as "Kongjwi and Patjwi") is a traditional Korean romance dating from the Joseon Dynasty. It is the story of humble Kongji's triumph over adversity. The moral of the story is that virtuous people who think positively and work diligently will be happy, encapsulating the Western proverb "heaven helps those who help themselves."

Plot summary[edit]

A childless couple was granted with a very beautiful baby girl whom they named Kongji. Her mother died when Kongji was 100 days old. She grew up with her father. The man remarried again when Kongji was fourteen years old. To replace his wife, he found a cruel widow who had a very ugly daughter named Patzzi. Her father died eventually. From that time on-wards, the stepmother and Patzzi treated Kongji very unfairly. They starved her, dressed her in rags and forced her to do all the dirtiest work in the house.

One day, the stepmother forced Kongji to plow a field with a wooden hoe. The hoe soon broke, leaving Kongji in tears, for fear that her step-mother would beat her again. A cow appeared and comforted her. He plowed the field in her place and sent Kongji home with a basket of apples, a gift from the cow. Her stepmother accused her of stealing the apples, gave the entire basket to Patzzi, and refused to give Kongji her supper.

The next day, the stepmother gave Kongji an enormous pot with a hole in the bottom and told her she must fill it with water before she and Patzzi returned home from town. Kongji kept bringing baskets of water but the pot was never filled. The water leaked out from the hole. A turtle appeared and blocked the hole for her. With his help, Kongji filled the pot with water. The stepmother was even angrier. She spanked Kongji black and blue.

After a time, the town leader announced that he was looking for a wife. A dance would be given in his honor and every maiden was to attend. Kongji and Patzzi were invited. The stepmother was hopeful that Patzzi would be the lucky one, but afraid that Kongji would spoil her own daughter's chance. Before they left, the stepmother gave Kongji a huge sack of rice to hull, which she had to accomplish before they returned from the dance. Kongji asked for help from the heavens, and a flock of sparrows appeared and hulled the rice. A fairy came down from heaven and dressed Kongji in a beautiful gown and a delicate pair of colorful shoes. She was transported to the palace by four men in a magnificent palanquin. Kongji hurried towards the dance.

Everyone admired her because of her beauty. The town leader went to her to ask her name. But when Kongji saw her stepmother and stepsister among the guests, she fled with terror. Patzzi remarked to her mother that the strange girl looked like her Kongji. As Kongji crossed a bridge, she tripped. One of her shoes fell into the stream. The town leader found the shoe and vowed to marry the woman it belonged to. Servants tried the shoe on every woman in the land, until they arrived in Kongji's village. It fit no one except Kongji. She was the last to try the shoe. Then, she produced her clothes and the other pair of her shoes. The town leader and Kongji were married.

Patzzi was jealous of Kongji's marriage and drowned her in a river. Patzzi disguised herself as Kongji to live with the town leader. Kongji's spirit would haunt anyone in the river. A brave man confronted her ghost and she told him everything. The man reported this to the town leader, and the town leader went into the river. Instead of a dead body, he retrieved a golden lotus. He kissed the lotus and it was changed back into Kongji.

The town leader sentenced Patzzi to death and had the servants make sauce from her body. They sent it to the stepmother. The stepmother ate the sauce greedily, mistaking it as a gift from her daughter. A cook revealed everything to her. When she learned of Patzzi's death, Kongji's stepmother fell into a faint from which she never awoke.


The legend of Kongji and Patzzi was passed down orally for many generations before it was first recorded, producing numerous regional variations. For example, some versions of the story cast a frog in place of the turtle as Kongji's helper, while others have been reduced to the Cinderella-esque first portion. Although the first part of the story shares elements with the Western fairy tale Cinderella, the traditional Korean belief of kwon seon jing ak (권선징악), the importance of encouraging virtue and punishing vice, similar to the older Chinese legend of Ye Xian, pervades the traditional tale coming to fruition with the deserved deaths of Kongji's stepmother and stepsister in the second part of the story.


Although the story itself contains fantastic elements, its setting is believed to be the real-life village of Dunsan, Keumgu Township, Gimje-si (김제시 금구면 둔산마을). Both Dunsan village and the village in which the novel Kongji and Patzzi is set are shaped like a cow. The turtle which blocked the hole in Kongji's pot is associated with Dunsan's turtle rock. People say that Kongji dropped her shoes in Duwol (두월) brook outside Dunsan.


  • Opera

Composer: Kim Dai-Hyun (1917 ~), 『 Kongji Patji 』 4 Acts First Performance :1951. 12. 20. Busan Theater. Length : 2hours 30minutes

  • Popular Music

"Heavy-metal Kongji" by Cherry Filter

  • Film

"Kongjwi Patjwi" (1958), directed by Yun Bong-Chun.
"Kongjwi Patjwi" (1967), directed by Jo Keung-Ha.

  • Television

"My Love Patzzi" (2006–2007), produced by Lee Jin-Suk.
"All My Love" (2010–2011), produced by Kwon Ik Joon