The Queen of the Swallows is an North Korean animated film that was based on the Korean fairy tale, Heungbu and Nolbu by an unknown author, released in 2011 and it was distributed by Mondo TV.
Families do not always get along so harmoniously, nor do brothers always see eye-to-eye. As told in an old Korean Fairytale, two brothers – Nolbu and Hungbu – live in the same village and must divide up the inheritance left to them by their father. Yet Nolbu, the elder brother, is greedy and arrogant. He seizes his father’s house, along with the good folks who live there and even persecutes Hungbu and his family. In this endeavour, Nolbu is assisted by his greedy wife and a few unscrupulous individuals. Yet, the kind and virtuous Hungbu constructs a hut for him and his family in some nearby woods… and up on the rooftop of this hovel, a swallow has built his nest...
Once upon a time, in a faraway village, lived two brothers named Hungbu and Nolbu. The younger brother, Hungbu, was a hard worker; while Nolbu, the eldest, was mean and dishonest. Before their death, their parents wrote a will stating that their two sons had to share the family home and its riches, at the same time living in peace and harmony. But one day Nolbu's wife tried to convince her husband to burn the will and throw his brother Hungbu and his family out of the house since all they did was waste their riches. Upon overhearing this Paduk, the family dog, stole the will and brought it to Hungbu so that he might share his riches with his brother and leave the house.
But Hungbu, being an honest man, took the will and gave it back to his brother wholeheartedly. Nolbu and his wife realized that the will had been stolen by Paduk, who had always been more faithful to Hungbu. So, fearing that the dog might steal it again, they did not hesitate to kick Hungbu and his family out of the house, without sharing the family riches with them. They also did not allow Hungbu to take Paduk along with him. So Hungbu and his family left the house and went to live in Hungbu's hut in the fields. Hungbu's son, named Makdong, was sick and his family had nothing to eat. So Hungbu went back to ask his brother for some food for his sick son, but Nolbu drove him away and only let him take the sickly Paduk away with him. Hungbu's family continued to get by as best they could, when one day Hungbu and Paduk found a wounded swallow and nursed it back to health. Thanks to the family's care, the swallow was able to fly again and returned to its kingdom of Kangnam. Upon returning to its kingdom, the bird told the whole story to the Queen of the Swallows, who decided to show her gratitude to Hungbu by giving him some special seeds.
The swallow flew back to the granary barn and gave Hansi, Hungbu's wife, a pumpkin seed. So Hungbu planted the special seed and it grew to become a great pumpkin full of treasures. They then decided to share their riches with the poor farmers. Upon discovering that his brother had turned rich and that he was handing out his wealth to the poor rather than to him, Nolbu angrily paid a visit to Hungbu's house. Upon arriving, all he did was insult his brother for not having given him a thing and therefore discovered the reason of his wealth. After returning home to his wife, he tried to conjure up a plan along with his cat Keapang to get some seeds from the Queen of the Swallows. So Nolbu broke a swallow's leg in order to nurse it back to health.
After having taken care of it, Nolbu asked the swallow for some pumpkin seeds. So the swallow returned to the kingdom of Kangnam and told the "truth" to the Queen of the Swallows. After having heard of Nolbu's malice, she sent him some very special pumpkin seeds. Nolbu planted the seeds as soon as he received them. The pumpkins grew quickly, producing demons and curses that befell Nolbu and his household, leaving them penniless. So the dishonest Nolbu ended up poor, while the honest and hard-working Hungbu lived a long and happy life.
Hungbu, the main protagonist whose goodness is undeniable was certainly the personification, while his villainous brother, Nolbu is the exact opposite. Hungbu is hard-working, clever and eager, though perhaps is a bit naive. However, his naivety is due to his goodness rather than sheer, but angered ignorance. The gift of the Queen of the Swallows gives him, his wife and two children growing pumpkin seeds. Hungbu receives them after having cared for a wounded swallow and the richness he derives from it is greatly cherished by all around him, including the poorer peasants.
For a wife, Hungbu has a woman who follows his every step without complaint because she knows that her husband’s every action comes from his heart. As far as she is concerned, she is not a submissive lady and makes her choice freely for the love of her family, neither does she let wealth get to her head when unexpectedly, she becomes rich beyond her wildest dreams thanks to the gift of the Swallows. She will later share her fortune with the poor.
Nolbu, the main antagonist is the epitome of unrestrained egoism, who ceaselessly hunts Hungbu in his very home following the death of their parents, in attempt to take everything for himself. He cares nothing for others. Upon hearing of his brother’s sudden wealth, he is taken by fury and anger plus his temper and breaks one of the swallow’s legs in his ambition to get his hands on the gift of the Queen of the Swallows. One bad act leads to another, and so to break this unending chain, the Queen of the Swallows will in the end give Nolbu the kind of gift he deserves.
At the side of an egotistical man is sure to be an egotistical woman. Nolbu’s wife, with the passing of time, will induce him into fouler and even meaner, but villainous acts, as her longing for possessions grows with the sort of dissatisfaction that seizes the heart of the wicked. Like Nolbu, she wants everything due to greed, hunger and thirst of power. Her husband’s downfall is none other than her herself, jealous of her sister-in-law, she ponders the question: “Oh, what does she have more than me to deserve her man?”
- This animated film is based on the Korean fairy tale, Heungbu and Nolbu that was written in the late Chosen Dynasty (1392–1897) by an unknown person.