This story is a particularly special one.
It finds it’s origin in China, but since those ancient days it has been passed down from generation to generation in Korea and Japan. Neighboring countries with a ‘not-so-pleasant’ past, all share in the moral message of this special folk legend.
The story begins like this…
There was once was a great an powerful king in the heavens. He lived in a large palace and ruled over all nations of the heavens. Out of everything this king owned and cared for he had only one true delight, his daughter, Jik Nyo.
Jik Nyo means “woman who weaves cloth” and she was the kings only child. As the years went by she grew in beauty, until one day she became the most beautiful woman in all the kingdom.
The time came when the king knew it was time for Jik Nyo to marry, so he made it his business to find her the most suitable husband, to live, work and inherit the kingdom beside her.
Eventually the king found a young man called Gyun Woo.
Gyun Woo means a man who herds cattle, and like his names sake, he was a hard worker and a dedicated young man. The king knew that he was a good match for his daughter. With her honest sense of responsibility and respect, and his hard work and dedication they would make each other very happy, while leading the kings nations well.
Jik Nyo and Gyun Woo got married in the palace and spent their first few weeks relaxing and settling into their new lives. They were madly in love.
The king grew more and more concerned as the couples short “honeymoon phase” of silly fun and playful, young love, turned into many months of carelessness, love-struck behavior.
Instead of being responsible, dedicated and hard working the two of them played all day long and did not work at all, often leaving a trail of mess in their wake.
The king became angry. And in his rage decided that the couple needed to be punished and taught a lesson. They had become the worst example and completely careless in their comfort and self-indulgence.
“Everyone else is in the kingdom of heaven is working so hard, but you two are just playing, day in and day out. You have forgotten your duties and grown selfish in your love of one another, forgetting that the rest of the kingdom relies on you.” After saying this, the king announced the Gyun Woo’s punnishment. “You will be seperated from Jik Nyo and live far in the east. Jick Nyo, you must go and live in the west.”
He ordered them to live apart, despite their marriage and love for one another. Perhaps living a life so far from the one you love, would remind them of their respectful duties to their kingdom and their king.
Jick Nyo cried bitterly, she begged her father to reconsider his decision, but the king did not change his mind and they did as they were told, destined to live seperate lives forever.
There was one condition to their punishment, the king’s one small mercy, and that was they were allowed to meet each other only once a year.
“Go to the Milky Way river on the seventh day in July” the king said, “and there you will be able to meet, only one time per year.”
Gyun Woo and Jick Nyo lived in sadness. They loved each other so much and each day apart felt like their hearts were breaking. After what felt like a thousand years, finally the seventh day in July arrived. Both Gyun Woo and Jick Nyo hurried to the Milky Way, they were eager to see each other again and the anticipation was great. They called out from opposite side of the Milky Way, shouting each others names repeatedly, but they could not see one another, the distance was too far from one bank to the other.
They longed to speak, and tell one another how much they loved, missed and cherrished each other, but nothing could be done… there was no way to reach across the vast expanse between them.
Their tears fell in the Milky Way and poured down on the earth like a flood. The more their saddness grew and their tears fell, the stormier the weather became on the earth. Soon the birds of the air saw that they were in grave danger. If something didn’t happen to sooth the couples sorrow the earth would be washed away in their tears.
All of the birds worrying lead them to conjure up a solution for the two lovers to meet.
“We need to make a bridge that will stretch across the Milky Way”, they said.
“But it is so high up…” a little Sparrow said.
“Then we need the help of the Crows and the Jays, they have strong sturdy wings and can fly higher than the clouds, up to the Milky Way”, said the wise old Pigeon.
The Crows and Jays agreed to help, and all that was left to do now was to wait, for the seventh day in July, and hope that it came before JKik Nyo and Gyun Woo’s hearts grew more weary.
One year passed again, and it became July seventh. All the Crows and the Jays in the world gathered and together, they flew high up to the Milky Way where they lined up across the river, creating a soft bridge that floated across the great divide.
At last Gyun Woo and Jick Nyo walked to meet each other, and their tears ceased as they professed their undying love.
From that day forth, every year, on the seventh day of July, Crows and Jays all over the world built a bridge across the Milky Way, and the earth was safe from floods.
This bridge was called Ojack-kyo – a bridge built by Crows and Jays.