That’s Not What a Turtle Is For

“To have interest,” Good Man quizzed me.


“관심을 갖다.”

“How is that different than 관심이 있다?” I wondered, while trying to remember a word from my online flashcard list. Good Man said 있다 is passive and emphasizes existence; 갖다 is active and emphasizes possession.

I remembered the flashcard word. “Oh, this is related to 무관심하다? ‘Indifferent?'”

“Yes, exactly.”

Later I looked up 심/心 in my Hanja dictionary. This is the same 심 in 열심이이다 (to be enthusiastic) and a whole slew of other words.

I’m sure I’ll promptly forget half of this. But in the battle of remembering, forgetting is actually an important part.

A few days ago I was reading “말하는 남생이” (“The Talking Terrapin”) in my intermediate cultural reader. Good Man was next to me.

“우리는 지금짜기 말하는 남생이를 본 적이 없어. 스러니 네가 남생이를 데리고 장터에 가서 사람들에게 구경을 시키면 동을 벌 수 있을 거야,” I read from the book. “I don’t know every word, but basically, ‘We’ve never seen a talking turtle before. We should bring him…somewhere..and make money.’ What does 장터 mean?”

Good Man ignored my question and said, very matter-of-factly, “So basically turtle is like sex slave?”

“Yeah, except without the sex.”

“Maybe it’s a metaphor,” Good Man replied.

I laughed so hard I had to stop reading.