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The Tale of Sim Cheong, a Korean Fairy Tale

As a children's book illustrator, Denise has many things to say about the process, her struggles, and children's books on the market today.

Sim Cheong, A Korean Fairy Tale

Sim Cheong, A Korean Fairy Tale

Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World

Last year, I finished a children’s alphabet book using fairy tales and folk tales from around the world as the theme. I had some trouble with Amazon saying they wouldn’t carry my book because of the illustrations, so I went to Lulu and got my first alphabet book published: The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World. Recently, I discovered that Amazon does have the paperback listed after all but not the digital version ebook. That is still available on Lulu though.

After I danced the happy dance at my success, I noticed that there were a lot more fairy tales out there that I didn’t use, enough to make a whole series using global fairy tales and folk tales. Thus the conception of my second alphabet book began. I have only been working on it since February and here is the nineteenth letter in the new book for the letter S.

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

— Albert Einstein

Thumbnail Roughs.  A tough choice.

Thumbnail Roughs. A tough choice.

The Tale of Sim Cheong, a Korean Fairy Tale

Long ago in the country of Ming China, during the reign of Emperor Chenghua, there lived a poor couple. They were Sim Hyeon and his wife Jeong. One day Jeong gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Sim Cheong. After naming her daughter, Jeong died. Poor Hyeon was heartbroken and in his grief, he became very ill. Because of this illness, Hyeon became blind. He did his best to raise Cheong by himself but they were very poor and often had to beg. When Cheong turned 13, Hyeon went out to find food for their evening meal when he bumped into a rich man’s wife and was accused of hurting her deliberately. Just then a Buddhist monk happened by and swore that the poor Hyeon was blind and it was all an accident. Having gotten Hyeon out of trouble, the monk told Hyeon that he could regain his eyesight if he gave 300 sacks of rice as an offering to Buddha. Without thinking, Hyeon promised that he would and returned home. Later Hyeon despaired that he could ever come up with 300 sacks of rice. He could not produce 1 sack of rice on their little farm. When Cheong found out about her father’s promise, she swore that she would help him pay it.

Sim Cheong walked through the town thinking and thinking about how she might be able to pay the promised debt. Finally, she came to the docks where the ships were docked and unloading. While she passed, Cheong heard some seamen talking about how they would pay anything to be able to cross the treacherous sea without encountering another storm. The other seaman said that would take a sacrifice of great value to the Dragon King of the sea. Just then Cheong knew what she could do. She approached the seamen and asked if they would be willing to pay 300 sacks of rice to her father if she offered herself as a sacrifice to the Dragon King. The seamen agreed and put out into the sea of Indangsu, where Cheong threw herself into the sea and drown. The Dragon King summoned this brave girl who sacrificed herself for her father, and he had her resurrected in a lotus flower. When Emperor Chenghua heard of her he sent for her and then married her. She was now an Empress.

Sim Cheong longed to see her father and to know if he had received his sight yet. No one seemed to know what had become of him after Sim Cheong left for the sea. She searched for many weeks and then had the idea of throwing a great feast. She invited all the blind people of the land to this feast. When she came out in her best clothes and jewels, she scanned the crowd of blind people, and there in the midst was her father. Running to him, she threw her arms around him and kissed him. Sim Hyeon was overjoyed to reunite with his daughter and immediately regained his eyesight. Empress Cheong provided for her father for the rest of his life.

The refined Thumbnail sketch

The refined Thumbnail sketch

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references of Korean girls, Korean clothes, and children underwater. In the end, I used a good stock photo I had found in Pixabay of a girl underwater and used the face of a Korean girl over that girl’s face. I hope you enjoy seeing my progress on the collage. Sometimes after finishing the collage, I need to make a background layer using Photoshop. This one needed the color of the water for a background layer.

The value sketch

The value sketch

The most beautiful things in the world must be felt with the heart.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Will Be Published with Lulu

This fairy tale has been shortened to fit into my book along with all the other letters of the alphabet. If you would like to read the full version, you can Google the title and find the story as The Tale of Sim Cheong or The Tale of Shim Cheong. With only 7 more illustrations to do, I just may be finished with the whole book and ready to publish by the end of this year.

Hidden Pictures

In my collages, I use paper from magazines, old wall calendars, catalogs, and circulars. Often I will add things into a collage you can't see unless you are looking for it like hidden pictures. This collage contains

Color compostion

Color compostion

The most important thing is this: to be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become.

— Charles Dickens

Final Thoughts

Did you like this story’s ending? I was sad that the girl sacrificed herself to the sea and wanted to change that part but it is a principal story theme in Korea and China that great sacrifice brings great reward.

I hope you like my story and my fairy tale alphabet book idea. If you are interested you can purchase the first one alphabet book on Lulu or Amazon. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

The final illustration.

The final illustration.

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on June 12, 2021:

If anyone is interested The FairyTale Alphabet Book 2, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales From Around the World is now available at https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/denise-mcgill/the-...

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

MG Singh emge,

You make me very happy. I always want to present an engrossing and entertaining story. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

John Hansen,

The trick is to make illustrations that grab your attention and make you want to read the story without giving away too much of the ending. Thanks for the comments.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Chitrangada Sharan,

I'm happy you like this one as well. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Devika Primić,

It is fun for me to share these. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Ankita B,

I love doing these illustrations. They make me happy. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Rosina S Khan,

I'm not sure I would do that either. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

RoadMonkey,

Yes. I think maybe that is the point. That great requests require great sacrifice, or great sacrifice deserves great reward. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Ann Carr,

I was overjoyed too. Although rebirth in a lotus made me squint. Like what? Anyway, I love a happy ending. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Abby Slutsky,

It is unusual, isn't it? I saw a video on YouTube that takes the theme of the girl sacrificing herself for her father's sight to a modern level. In that one she is kidnapped and the kidnappers intend to cut out her eyes to sell for body parts on the black market. She manages to escape by jumping into the sea but first steals one of their black market eyes in a bottle, and her father receives his sight with it. Interesting.

Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Linda Lum,

It did work out well, didn't it. I'm a sucker for a happy ending. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Tiyasha Maitra,

I'm so very happy that you like it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Peggy Woods,

It was sad and I was tempted to change the ended. Maybe have the Dragon King save her for her intention to sacrifice herself, but it wouldn't be true to the culture or the story. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Dennise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Bill Holland,

You are too kind. I hope your Thanksgiving was awesome. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Rosina S Khan,

I found it odd that the father still hadn't received his sight when the girl went looking for him. I wonder if the seamen didn't bother to pay the 300 sacks of rice as they promised. I guess that's another story. He was healed in the end and that's all that matters. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Liz Westwood,

I thought about adding fish or sea turtles in the water but then decided against it because I wanted nothing to distract from the main subject of the little girl. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Diana Carol Abrahamson,

I did a Frankensteining of photos to get what I wanted. I took a photo of a little girl underwater and then pasted the face of a Korean girl on top of her head. Sometimes you have to do that to get just the right look for a photo reference to work from. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 27, 2020:

emge,

I do hope that is a plus point. I wanted to honor all the cultures of the world and educate people who never heard them before, not just tell the same old stories that we already know by heart. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 27, 2020:

Jodah,

The illustration is supposed to attract attention and get the reader interested enough to read more. Sometimes it is a challenge to find just the right thing that will attract attention but not give away the whole story. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 27, 2020:

Hi Denise Your around the world fairy tales are the best. I found it enjoyable and so worth the read.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on November 26, 2020:

You have the knack for writing lovely fairy tales and they are so engrossing. The best part is that you pick up tales from all over the globe. That's a plus point.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on November 26, 2020:

What a beautiful story Denise. Wonderful happy ending too, and as always your illustrations speak for themselves.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 26, 2020:

ChitrangadaSharan,

I'm happy it ended with a happy ending too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 26, 2020:

DDE,

I am glad I ran across some of these unusual ones because many people have never heard of them before. I know I didn't know about them either. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 26, 2020:

Ankita B,

I'm glad you like the illustrations. I certainly love making them. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 26, 2020:

surovi99,

There is something to be said for the steady life. My mother is like that too. I admire it, mostly because I have so many highs and lows. It is like a roller coaster ride with my emotions. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 26, 2020:

RoadMonkey,

You have a good point. Not many would be willing to make such a great sacrifice. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 26, 2020:

Nice and engaging story Denise. I loved your sketches and how they are intertwined with the tale. Regarding the end, I think you did justice, since your story related to a culture. Thanks for sharing.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to you.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 26, 2020:

Hi Denise so glad you shared another and different fairy tales. A unique and fascinating tales of another culture. I had no idea of these tales.

Ankita B on November 25, 2020:

Lovely tale as always, Denise. The ending was beautiful. The illustrations are always great to look at.

Rosina S Khan on November 25, 2020:

I love the tale, Denise but I am not a believer in making sacrifices like that. I am hardly a risk taker which is why my life is steady without ups and downs.

RoadMonkey on November 25, 2020:

How unusual. The willingness to sacrifice herself got a great reward but how many would be willing to make that great a sacrifice? Another great tale.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 25, 2020:

annart,

Yes, I'm a sucker for a happy ending. I feel like the duke in "All This And Heaven Too"... there are enough tears in the world. No need to buy more. Thanks for commenting. I wish you a lovely day tomorrow on day of Thanksgiving.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 25, 2020:

Abby Slutsky,

There are so many out there I could be having fairy tales for the next decade. That's a lot. Thanks for commenting. Happy Thanksgiving.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 25, 2020:

Carb Diva,

I wanted to leave the part out about the girl drowning but it is such an integral part of the culture that great sacrifice is necessary to receive great gain. Glad you like the ending. Happy Thanksgiving.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 25, 2020:

Cattaleya,

It was a beautiful story of love, wasn't it. I was surprised and pleased with the end myself. Thanks for commenting.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 25, 2020:

Peggy W,

I am in awe of so many loyal fans. You have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow too.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 25, 2020:

billybuc,

I'm wishing you a brilliant Thanksgiving as well. Maybe the algorithms that whisk these things away are moving slower at the holiday season. But then your article had already been taken by the beast when I got there.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 25, 2020:

surovi99,

Do you think it is true that only by great sacrifice can great happiness be found? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 25, 2020:

Eurofile,

Yes, there were some downs and then ups in this one. I'm glad you liked the ending. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 25, 2020:

Dianadee,

I thought she looked very sweet too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Ann Carr from SW England on November 25, 2020:

Lovely story, Denise! I too thought it was going to end badly but I was overjoyed to find that it was totally the opposite!

So good to have a happy ending.

Gorgeous illustrations of course.

Ann

Abby Slutsky from America on November 25, 2020:

As usual, another delightful story. I really look forward to your fairy tale installments.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2020:

What an unusual tale; I feared it would be sad but you presented a happy ending. Beautiful artwork. Good luck on your book.

Tiyasha Maitra from Gurgaon on November 25, 2020:

Such a touching story. Enjoyed the read very much.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 25, 2020:

This unusual tale is a sad one with an unexpected happy ending. Your artwork, as always, is beautiful. Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 25, 2020:

Always a pleasure, reading one of these. I was a bit surprised it was still on its original form and not whisked away.

The artwork is impeccable; the story had a happy ending, for which I'm grateful.

Wishing you a brilliantly Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

bill

Rosina S Khan on November 25, 2020:

I loved reading this Korean fairy tale, Denise. I was really unhappy when the girl decided to sacrifice her life but cheered up at the dramatic change of happy events at the end. Loved your collage illustration as well. Thanks for sharing.

Liz Westwood from UK on November 24, 2020:

I am pleased to read the happy ending. It certainly takes the reader through desperate times in this tale. What a lovely illustration too.

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on November 24, 2020:

Your art is beautiful. Such a sweet picture of child swimming underwater.

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