A Single Shard is set in a small village in Korea in the 12th century. The story centers around Tree-ear, a young orphan who lives under a bridge with an old man named Crane-man.
There are, in my view, two main conflicts in this story. The first conflict revolves around Tree-ear's desire to learn how to be a potter.
Min is a potter in their area who creates very fine pottery. Often, Tree-ear surreptitiously watches Min at work, and develops a fantasy of learning how to spin clay like Min can. As a homeless orphan, Tree-ear has practically no way to make this dream come true. One day, he enters Min's yard when no one is around to take a surreptitiously take a closer look at the pottery. He accidentally breaks an expensive piece of pottery, and agrees to work for a furious Min to pay off the debt. After he pays off his debt, he begins to work for Min in exchange for food from Min's wife. Tree-ear hopes that Min will teach him how to become a potter, but when he asks him, Min tells him that...
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