The Piper _TOP_
In the 1950s after the Korean War, a gentle wandering piper with a limp, Woo-ryong, and his sick young son, Young-nam, are en-route by foot to Seoul through the central Korean highlands when they reach a remote village. The village chief allows Woo-ryong and his son to stay at his house. The piper shows the Chief an English-written note that he says is the name of an American doctor at a hospital in Seoul who can treat Young-nam. The Chief, who tells the piper not to tell anyone else the war is over, agrees but he cannot read English either. Woo-ryong is smitten by a villager called Mi-sook who lost her husband and child in the war.
Mi-sook starts to fall in love with Woo-ryung due to his kind nature. The son even starts to call her "mummy". However, the chief threatens her if she plans to leave the village after learning that Woo-ryung invited Mi-sook to go to Seoul with him and his son to start a family together. It is turned out that the chief intends to keep the villagers ignorant about the end of the Korean War to maintain his control over the people since if the people found out that the war is over, they would leave the village for the better life in the city or going back to the old village. He also plots with his son, Nam-soo, to not reward the Piper for getting rid of the rats out of petty greed and Nam-soo is also jealous with Woo-ryong for grating Mi-sook's affection. Taking advantage on the ignorance of the villagers, first they create doubt in the mind of the male villagers making them believe that Woo-ryong is a communist spy who brought the rats with him. At a village meeting, the chief says he is going to pay the piper but a dead cat is found. Proof the chief says that the rats are back. He holds up Woo-ryung's English note and says its spying material; it simply reads "Kiss my ass, monkey" - no American doctor's name just a cruel joke.Woo-ryung reaches for the money but Nam-soo chops off two of his fingers with a knife. The villagers turn on Woo-ryung and Young-nam, even Mi-sook condemns them. But as the villagers get ready to throw them out, Mi-sook returns in a shamanic trance but stabbed in the stomach. She tells the villagers that on a day without sun they will all die and their children might live or die, repeating the original shaman's prophecy before she was locked up and burnt alive by the villagers. Mi-sook then dies from her wounds.
Before they leave, the Chief puts two poisoned rice-balls in Woo-ryung's knapsack to kill them to prevent the father and son from telling anyone about the location of the village. The injured piper falls asleep while his son sneaks back to the village to retrieve his father's pipe from the Chief's house. On the way back, Young-nam ate one of the poisoned rice-balls and dies.
Clarence went to see Wilfred during his recovery, to find him in the worst case of shell-shock his doctor had ever seen. Wilfred said he had "met the War". He said it was no taller than a man and had three faces, one to play its scrimshawed pipes of bone, one to scream its dying death cry and one who did not open its mouth, for when it did blood and sodden soil fell out like a waterfall. Those hands not playing the pipes held an assortment of weapons or held hands up in supplication and one saluted. It wore an olive green wool coat with burnt and scarred skin visible beneath. The piper came to claim Wilfred, who begged for his life. The Piper paused before offering him a pen. Wilfred knew he would live to play its tune but it would return for him one day.
Since then, every time they went over the top some of the men appeared to be listening to the distant music and never came back. These events caused Clarence to recall the phrase "paying the piper" and its connections to the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
When it is time to pay the piper it is time to accept the consequences of a thoughtless or rash action. Or the phrase can mean that it is time to fulfill a responsibility or promise, usually after the fulfillment has been delayed already. Almost always the phrase is used with a pejorative connotation.
The phrase comes from the fable of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. According to the myth, a piper was hired to clear out the rats from the village of Hamelin. After he did so (by playing a song on his pipes), he was not paid for his work. His revenge for the lack of payment was to steal all the children of the town. The moral of the story was to pay the piper, or keep up your half of the bargain.
A related phrase is he who pays the piper calls the tune. Somewhat self-explanatory. The phrase means that the one who is footing the bill gets to make the decisions. This is sometimes used to mean that the wealthy have all the power.
The result is we overeat at Thanksgiving, overindulge in December without regard for calories, and then go skidding into the new year generally carrying a few extra pounds. January is when we pay the piper. Nobody brings treats into the office this month and we are surrounded by a sea of salads in the lunchroom. [Huffington Post]
For those unfamiliar with the tale, the Pied Piper of Hamelin is set in 1284 in the town of Hamelin, Lower Saxony, Germany. This town was facing a rat infestation, and a piper, dressed in a coat of many colored, bright cloth, appeared. This piper promised to get rid of the rats in return for a payment, to which the townspeople agreed.
Although the piper got rid of the rats by leading them away with his music, the people of Hamelin reneged on their promise. The furious piper left, vowing revenge. On July 26 of that same year, the piper returned and led the children away, never to be seen again, just as he did the rats.