Long, long ago there lived in the Land of the Khans a poor Alad [a serf or a herdsman in the days of feudalism]. His wife bore three children, but unfortunately they all died. No further children were born to the couple and they lived a solitary and wretched life.
Then unexpectedly one winter's day the Alad's wife gave birth to a boy. The couple were overjoyed, but, they began to wonder how they were going to raise their child. Except for a cow and two mountain goats they had nothing of any value. What were they to do?
Though distressed they nevertheless went outside their tent to milk the cow for the baby.
The child grew not by the day but by the hour. Before evening he had grown taller and sturdier than a man. Husband and wife were both astonished and delighted. They named their boy Ku-nan, which means Ancient South.
On the very first day Ku-nan ate up a whole goat. On the next day he ate up the other one. The old couple were filled with dismay. One more day, they thought, and even the cow will be done for! And then what will we have to live on?
On the third day Ku-nan said to his mother, "Ah-Ma, we are so poor and we have only a cow left. Let me go and find some work to do. I'm afraid I'll fall ill if I stay at home any longer."
She looked at her son's tall and robust figure and, taking his big hand in her, said in a tearful voice, "My son, what work can you do? Hai! You may perhaps go to the Khan. He may have some work for you." Ku-nan pondered for a while, then agreed.
After taking leave of his parents, he fared forth on an empty stomach. Half way he met with a hungry wolf. As soon as it saw him it jumped on him, but Ku-nan immediately tackled it and killed it. He then skinned it and, making himself a bonfire, roasted the meat and ate it. Having done so, he continued on his way and at dusk reached the Khan's yurt.
The sly old Khan thought of testing Ku-nan's strength. He had a whole cow roasted and invited the lad to eat it. Ku-nan not only ate up all the meat, but gnawed the bones clean, too. The Khan then kept him in his yurt as his personal attendant and bodyguard.
Ku-nan often went with the Khan deep into the forest to hunt, and every time they came home with a full bag. One day, when the two of them, together with some of the Khan's servants, went hunting in the deep reaches of the forest, a huge tiger suddenly leaped out upon them. The Khan was so frightened he broke into a cold sweat. Without a thought for Ku-nan's safety he whipped his horse into a gallop and tore off down the mountain. The Khan's servants fled helter-skelter, covering their heads with their hands. But Ku-nan did not stir. As the tiger sprang upon him he calmly dodged to one side, grabbed one of its hind legs, and swung the beast against a big tree. There was a crash, and the tree leaves fluttered to the ground. The tiger lay motionless on the ground with its stomach ripped open. Ku-nan put the carcass on his back and strode off after the Khan.