Our connection to Korea goes back over 35 years. Two of us -- Debbi Kent and Joan Suwalsky – are adoptive mothers of Korean-born children. Longtime friend MaryJo Glover’s love for Debbi’s children earned her the title of Honorary Adoptive Mom. Beginning when the kids were babies, we took a keen interest in learning about Korea. Reading everything we could get our hands on and making repeated trips to Korea, we developed a deep affection for the culture of "The Land of the Morning Calm."
In particular, we were captivated by the symbolic animals that appear over and over in Korean art. Horangi, the protective, yet comical tiger, has long been our favorite. He must be the favorite of many Koreans as well since he was chosen as the mascot for both the 1988 and 2018 Olympic Games.
Other “benevolent beasts” in Korean folklore, such as the magpie, mountain rabbit, tortoise, dragon, phoenix, crane, and three-legged crow, each have their own unique personality and special meaning. (A three-legged crow. How cool is that?) As we learned about them, an idea for a series of children’s stories featuring this charming collection of animals began to take shape, and that was the beginning of Ginkgo Tree Tales.
I Bite the Bad Guys: A Tale of the Korean Tiger is the first book in the series. Illustrated by the gifted Korean artist, Lee, Woong Ki, these are not retellings of traditional folktales, but funny, exciting new stories that any child, anywhere, will enjoy. And through hints in the text and Woong Ki’s whimsical, humorous and wonderfully detailed illustrations, readers will come away having learned much about the ancient, yet very modern culture that is Korea.
For more about Korean culture, see Debbi and Joan’s book:
100 Thimbles in a Box: The Spirit and Beauty of Korean Handicrafts. (Seoul Selection, 2014) (www.100thimbles.com)
A vibrant, colorful, lively introduction to the exquisite arts and crafts of Korea, this book, with the help of nearly 500 photographs, explains their history, how they are created, and the meaning behind the symbols that have embellished them for thousands of years.
“This thoroughly researched and elegantly photographed book is more than a source of knowledge – it is itself a piece of art.”
Jai-Ok Shim, Executive Director, Fulbright Korea