That’s Just Not Fair

This weekend was a rather low-key affair. Good Man, who is usually a bad son, was being a good son this weekend, so we didn’t meet at all.

Good Man, like most single Koreans, lives with his family (primarily his mother and sister since his father works abroad). If I didn’t understand Korean culture, if I were an outsider looking at a friend who was living here and dating Good Man, I’d wonder what the hell she was thinking, (seriously) dating a man who still lived at home.

Related Side
As a related side note, despite Thursday’s high about studying Korean, Friday I crashed. I started Sogang 3A and I’ve got to wonder if I’m ever going to break through the low-intermediate level. When I first started studying Korean, progress was so, so visible. But now it’s much slower and I feel a bit frustrated with that. Also, I’m concerned about losing my Korean level when I go back to the States because I don’t know anyone who’s kept up their learned-abroad foreign language after moving back to the States.

The thing is, I actually do want to learn Korean. In order to survive in Korea, you really only need to get though Sogang 1B, in my opinion, though lots of people do fine getting through the level that 1A would put you at. Heck, lots of people learn only Bar Korean and do fine (so they say; the funny thing is that my bar Korean isn’t great because I don’t go to bars a lot!). I know that I won’t have nearly as much an opportunity to use Korean in the States, and I know that in my field, being bilingual in Korean wouldn’t be very useful.

But I am no longer learning Korean because I need to but because I want to. I enjoy learning it, I like being able to write short stories in it. I like being able to read stories (albeit easy ones!) in Korean. Most of the time I like to be able to communicate with the people around me (though lately my neighbor has been bothering me and I’ve been pretending I don’t understand her).

Also, although I know the following are probably considered poor reasons to learn a language, I want to be able to speak with Good Man in front of my family without them understanding us. (Yes, that makes me sound evil, but I own it.) I don’t want to come across as some twit who lives abroad for two years and who can’t communicate in their Other Country’s language! Finally, I never became fluent in either Spanish or Swedish and I don’t want to be one of those monolingual Americans.

But I can’t even get Good Man to speak Korean with me. Actually, that’s not entirely true. We’ve done it a bit. At first he spoke too fast. Then he spoke word-by-word-and-it-was-too-choppy. Now he’s figured out this really good method where he speaks slowly in phrases, in chunks. But since my level is still fairly low, we usually switch to English. This is usually my fault because though he’ll slip into English, if I stay in Korean, he comes back. But what happens is that I slip into English and stay there.

So all of these things came together this weekend to make me feel frustrated and a bit pessimistic about learning Korean.

Back to the Story
I was chatting with Good Man online and I told him why I was frustrated about Korean. He promised

I will practice Korean, but I will not tell how to download TV in your PC

Later, we were chatting in English and I expressed frustration with his living situation. In the middle of my complaining, he said “한국어로 이야기하자.” Let’s speak Korean.

I stared at the screen. Oh now that’s just not fair! We always hash things out in English. But hey, if he wants to do that, OK. Always hashing things out in English isn’t really fair, either.

I wrote back “더 어려워! 하지만—” It’s too hard! But—

I told him what I wanted to in spelling-error filled Korean. He said something sweet in Korean in return and all my frustration went away.

I believe Good Man when he says sweet things to me, in whatever language, flawed or perfect. But why, when I’m upset, does it sound so much sweeter in Korean? Is that why he wants to speak English all the time? Does it come across differently?