The Beginning Picture

This painting is about Euna’s parents. Her father is the Emperor of a land in the Far East. Her mother Yun Hee, is the daughter of the Sea God. The Emperor Jae-Sun ascended his throne as a young man. He was very powerful and rich. He had many palaces throughout the land. But his favorite palace was the one on the coast of the sea.

One day he decided to take a boat out to fish. But instead of catching any fish, Jae-Sun catches a great big tortoise, with a hard shell and such a funny wrinkled old face and a tiny tail. Tortoises always live a thousand years in this land. So Jae-Sun thought to himself: “A fish would do for my dinner just as well as this tortoise,—in fact better. Why should I go and kill the poor thing, and prevent it from enjoying itself for another nine hundred and ninety-nine years? No, no! I won’t be so cruel.” And with these words, he threw the tortoise back into the sea.

Later that day Jae-Sun returns to his palace to take an afternoon nap in the hot summer. A few hours later he wakes up to a strange sound coming from outside of his room. It was a faint feminine voice singing. He heads out to the balcony overlooking the water. As Jae-Sun looked out into the water, there came up from beneath the waves the most beautiful girl he’d ever laid eyes on. She seemed to float on top of the waves, her mammoth dress an allusion to a conch shell. A giant golden fish tail was splashing in and out of the water beneath. Her long hair was a lovely sheen of black.

“I am Yun Hee, the daughter of the Sea God, and I live with my father in the Dragon Palace beyond the waves. I am the tortoise that you caught just now, and so kindly threw back into the water instead of killing it. My father the Sea God had sent me to see whether you were good or bad.”

Jae-Sun is enchanted with the beautiful Sea Princess and declares his love to her. “I want to you be my wife. I will have you or no other,” Jae-Sun says. Yun Hee is touched and takes him to meet her father in the Dragon Palace. Jae-Sun asks for permission to marry Yun Hee. The Sea God is impressed by Jae-Sun’s act of kindess earlier and grants him permission to take Yun Hee as his wife on one condition. Yun-Hee must return to the Dragon Palace for three months every year. They agree to the conditions and marry soon afterwards.

A year later a little girl was born to the happy couple and the kingdom rejoiced at the birth of their beautiful princess.

“You must remember that our Euna is half mermaid, my love,” Yun Hee tells him. “If sea water is splashed onto her legs, they will transform into a fish tail. Therefore you must be careful of her safety while she is on land.” Legend throughout the land is that if you eat the flesh of a mermaid it will give you immortality. To protect his daughter and wife from enemies who would use this knowledge for evil gains, the Emperor keeps their mermaid origin a secret from others.
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