Long ago a poor old blind man in China had just one blessing, and this was his daughter, Shimchong.
One day the old blind man fell into a water hole.
Suddenly a voice close by spoke. “Old man, if you will promise to give 300 bushels of rice to the temple in the name of Lord Buddha, you will be rewarded with your life, and your eyesight.”
He quickly said, “I promise.” He was certain it was the Lord Buddha.
The old man blinked, awaiting the return of his sight, but this did not happen. Then he realized with terror what he had done.
“Don’t worry, father, I will get you the rice for your offering,” his daughter said. The next morning, Shimchong hurried to the market and approached the wealthiest merchant.
“I am here to offer myself to the Dragon King,” she told him, “and in return you must give 300 bushels of rice to the temple in my father’s name.”
The merchant was overjoyed.
You see, for many years the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea had demanded the merchants give him a wife, but the merchants refused to sacrifice their daughters. The Dragon King, in his fury, sent wild storms that sank their ships. And here stood just the girl一only a poor girl, but beautiful.
The old blind man learned of his daughter’s fate, and still his sight did not return. Now, with nothing to offer him joy, he sank into a boundless grief.
At sea, Shimchong was dropped overboard, and as she sank deeper and deeper, she expected to drown. But before long, she saw the fabulous underwater palace of the Dragon King.
Like all who saw Shimchong, he was instantly enchanted, and he became a loving husband.
But Shimchong often dreamed of her father, and whenever she thought of his heartbreak, she wept.
The Dragon King loved his wife, and her unhappiness became his. “My beloved,” he told her, “I must set you free to return to the land so that you can once more see your father. But no one will ever accept that you are still alive, and so I will disguise you.” And with that he whispered into her ear and turned her into a lotus flower.
That day a fisherman came upon a magnificent and most unusual flower floating upon the sea, and he decided such a treasure must be given to the emperor.
The emperor loved the beautiful flower. Now one night the emperor could not sleep, and he stepped outside and wandered toward his pond. There he saw a lovely girl standing near the water. “Who are you?” he gasped.
Shimchong blushed. “My name is Shimchong,” she said, “I am the lotus flower you love.”
He came close to her and whispered, “Shimchong, marry me.”
“I will,” Shimchong said, for the emperor was a good man. But she did have one request. “We must invite every blind man in the country to our wedding,” she said.
The emperor happily agreed.
On their wedding day Shimchong waited.
“Why do you look so sad?” the emperor asked his beloved.
“There is one person I must see again,” she said. She turned, and there stood her poor old father, dressed in rags, more sorrowful than any man she had ever seen.
“My father!” she cried. And in that moment, the man’s sight did return, and for the first time he saw his beloved daughter.
The next day, several of the merchants’ ships returned to port, and all the sailors remarked on the gentle waves of the Eastern Sea.