A Single Shard

by Linda Sue Park

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Student Question

Summarize the story Crane-man tells Tree-ear about the Rock of the Falling Flowers.

Expert Answers

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According to Crane-man, the story involves a T'ang Chinese invasion of Puyo, the capital of Paekche (one of the three kingdoms of ancient Korea).

At the time, most of the king's army at Paekche had been called away to war, and only a handful of loyal guards were protecting the palace. The king had very little warning once the T'ang army swooped in. He and his courtiers retreated to the highest point of Puyo, a cliff overlooking the Kum River. Although the king's guards positioned themselves between their sovereign and the T'ang army, they were immediately obliterated by the fierce Chinese onslaught.

Then, at the greatest moment of desperation, all the king's concubines and ladies-in-waiting threw themselves off the cliff in unison. They would rather die than be captured. Crane-man says that the women's colorful, billowing dresses looked like falling flowers as the women dived to their deaths. Since then, the Rock of the Falling Flowers has become synonymous with courage in the face of tragedy.

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