Why I Study Korean, Reason #492

Because I get to read sentences like this:

옛날 어느 마을에 방귀를 아주 잘 뀌는 남자가 있었어요.

-from “방귀 시합,” 잠들 때 하나씩 등여주는 이야기

This sentence beats out the roasted cow one.

Once upon a time there lived a man who was very, very good at farting.

I attend the “advanced adult” taekwondo classes. Usually it’s ~3nd gup and up. Last night there was one other second dan, a woman I’m really starting to like—and one 8th gup and four 9th gups.

We ended up doing a ton of basic work, which was fine, because everyone can always improve their basics. Except the other second dan and I were the only ones kiyaping. I don’t expect decent kiyaps from yellow and orange belts, but I do expect some noise. Later a yellow belt adult showed up with his wild yellow belt children. Because eight year old yellow belts belong in the “advanced adult” class.

At the end of class Special Forces said the usual. “Black belts, turn around, color belts, face black belts.”

The color belts turned around.

And faced the wall.

Sunday Walk, and Mother’s Wide Heart

Sunday Walk

Velvet Red Flower

These are Azaleas, Right?

From the Back

Oil Painting?

Cartwheeling Blooms
(Seriously, I have no idea what flower this is, but the blooms look like they’re cartwheeling.)

Anyone have any idea why the fourth one has bokeh that looks like an oil painting? Shot at 1/1250 sec, ISO 100, f/1.8. No filters. Post-processed in Lightroom using punch preset, adjusting contrast and white balance. Looked like an oil painting straight off the memory card. Is this just a case of catching the light at the right time and right angle?

Mother’s Wide Heart
“I need to learn Korean because I want to speak with your family,” I said to Good Man, several weeks ago.

“OK,” Good Man replied, “but you speak a lot of Korean and it is not only your responsibility. My family could learn.”

I shook my head. “Your mother is old. And I met you in Korea. I am marrying into your culture because I met you in your country. It is my job to learn how to communicate with your mother. It is not her job to accommodate me.”

“Well, you may know there are many foreigners married to Koreans who can not communicate with their in-laws.”

“I know. I don’t want to be one of them,” I said.

I am really growing to adore Mother.

We had a video chat with Mother and Sister last night. For some reason I ended showing them my Hanja 100 book and Sister and Mother became excited. Then Sister held up some books.

Apparently Mother has bought three 3030 English books. The 3030 series uses the selling point Study English 30 Minutes a Day for 30 Days and You Can… She bought the Speak Like an American Kindergartener, Speak Like an American Elementary Student, and Speak Like an American Middle School Student books. She did not get the Date an American one. ㅋㅋ

I was touched when I saw that. I was so touched that I went and wrote about it in Korean. ^^


I took a lot of teacher classes at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this year. I took enough to earn a certificate of studies as a level I CETA (Changing Education Through the Arts) teacher, which meant an optional dinner at the Kennedy Center last night. My costs were covered by the program; Good Man’s ticket cost $75, and we decided to spring for it.

It was fun to get to dress up and go out. I got to wear a deep V-neck (front and back) cleavage-flattering, completely sexy and thus work-inappropriate black dress. I also wore my red wedding shoes. Great! Except I had two glasses of wine with dinner and the meal was fancy and thus the servings were tiny, so when we got called up to accept our certificates during dessert (some chocolate dish that was fantastic) I thought, “I don’t drink enough to wear three inch heels…”

After dinner we got to see Ragtime. We had great seats—balcony A, front row, center. Shortly before the intermission, Good Man leaned over and said, “Is this thing longer than Titanic?”


I did understand his frustration. I was having a hard time understanding some of the lyrics (though they did a great job) and if they’d been in a second language?

Dropping the I

Koreans don’t use pronouns much. They also don’t like using proper nouns much. Korean is considered a high-context language. Sometimes Good Man will say something like, “I think it will be good for her if she does it for her.”

I will say, “Who?”


What. The. Hell?

I am American. I like pronouns. How many pronouns have I used so far in this post? I like proper nouns. Proper nouns give context.

I just wrote a very brief story about going to work Saturday. I typed it up, posted it at Lang-8 and realized a few hours later that I didn’t once use “I.”

Here’s the uncorrected story.

요즘 일에서 많이 바빴다. 5월에서 시험 많이 있을거는데. 그리고 화요일에 특수교육 학생들이 시험 만기가 되다. 스터레스가 많이 있다.

그리고 토요일에 동료하고 학교로 갔다. 8시부터 2시까지 일했다. ㅠㅠ 밖에 기온 23도이다. 아이고…마음의 속에서 찡찡댔다.

끝난후에 남편과 식당으로 가서 점심을 먹었눈데. 집으로 올때 남편은 랩톱을 잊오보린것을 발견했다. (!) 걱정했다.

재빠르게 식당으로 되돌아갔다. 남편은 찾았는데–햅톱이 있었다! 아휴. 마음이 가벼웠다.

하지만…아직도 토요일에 일하므로 생활이 싫아하다.

And for our non-Korean speakers, here’s a translation, done mostly straight as written.

Very busy at work lately. In May will be big tests. And Monday special education student tests are due. Have a lot of stress.

And Saturday coworker with school went to. From 8 to 2 worked. (tears) Outside was 23 degress. Oh God… deep inside heart was whining.

After work with husband went to restaurant to eat lunch. When returned to house, husband discovered laptop was forgotten. (!) Worried.

Quickly went back to restaurant. Husband looked and–had laptop! Wha hoo. Heart was happy.

But… still, because work on Saturday hate life.

I wrote a whole story and didn’t even consciously consider dropping the 저/나/I. I just did it! Heart is happy! ㅋㅋ

It’s Too Late Koreans! You Are Failing Your Children!

From the inside cover of 어린이한자100 (Children’s First 100 Hanja):

…그래서 일본의 경우는 한자를 가르치는 유치원히 많으며 5세 어린이가 500자까지 배우기도 합니다.

우리 나라는 중학교무터 한자를 배우는대 그 때는 이미 늦습니다. 어린 때 한자는 공부를 해 두는 것이 좋습니다.

I pumped me fist in the air. “Hell yeah! I understand Korean educational propaganda!”

Good Man nodded, “Now you are Comrade Amanda Teacher.”

Thus, in Japan many kindergartens teach 5-year-olds Hanja, so most know up to 500 characters.

In our country, children start studying Hanja in middle school. It is already too late. It would be good for our children to learn Hanja.

You must rise against those evil Japanese, Koreans! Teach your 5-year-olds Hanja! Now! Before it’s too late!

Black Belt Style

We don’t do poomse often at this school. We’ve only done pal jang a few times and every time I’ve ended up confused. I’ve been assuming it’s me.


Today I finally realized that while I step forward into the first back stance, everyone else at our school steps back. Ahhhh.

After school I asked Special Forces how we’re supposed to do a lower block. I’ve been to too many schools and learned too many ways. He showed me. It is—no surprise—different than how I do it.

I looked at him. “I will try to change.”

“No,” Special Forces said, “every school is different. You have your black belt style. You don’t need to change it.”

Sunday Walk, Sunday Studying, Sunday Video (of Us!)

Natural Pomander

These, but in America


Two Weeks Later


I’ve been driving Good Man nuts lately. I whine at least once a day that I will never learn Korean. He’s told me I’m limited to saying that once every 72 hours.

A few days ago he said, “If you keep saying that, it will become what happens.”

“A self-fulfilling prophecy.” Catching the look on Good Man’s face, I explained the phrase.

“Yeah, why do you do that?”

“Because then when I never learn Korean fluently, I can say, ‘See, I told you I’d never learn Korean.'”

Good Man looked at me and started laughing. “You are so crazy! If your students did that you would be so angry!”

He’s right, of course.


예견하다: to foresee
발견하다: to discover
견학: field trip
의견: opinion

예견(하다): foresee
예언(하다): prediction, prophecy
예보(하다): forecast
예습(하다): pre-study
예약(하다): reservation
예상(하다): expectation

And for a pure Korean root (no Hanja!) !

A few weeks ago I was fist-shakingly angry at the ass on the radio pronouncing “Pyeongyang” in a very…stereotypically Oriental way (and yes, he kept saying “Orient” and “Oriental”). I know that we pronounce cities in an English way in English, but it still makes me crazy. It’s not “yayng!”

How to pronounce Pyoungyang from Amanda on Vimeo.

Because the news broadcasters get it wrong…

Out of Context
During one of my bouts of whining, Good Man said the way I’d learn Korean is by reading a story every night. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Not reading a story a night, but time and consistency. I have several books of short stories, and it’s easy to read one story a night. Sometimes I read aloud, and sometimes Good Man reads aloud.

A few days ago we got to the word “습관.” Good Man told me it was “habit” and I thought of the word “관습,” “customs.” I learned this word out of context and thought it was customs as in airport customs, mail customs, international customs. Ahhh, the drawback of learning words out of context…

Memory Tricks
On our walk today, Good Man helped me study my flashcards.

“틀리다…I keep forgetting that one.”

“‘To be wrong, mistake.'”

“How can I remember that?”

Good Man grinned. “I am always wrong about 틀리다!”

I read, “목표… I think thinking of 목포, the city.” Mok-pyo and Mok-po.

“It’s aim, goal.”

“목포 should use it in a slogan somehow.”

Good Man thought, “목포로 가는 목표!” Aim to go to Mokpo!

“찍다…to dip? Huh? I thought it was take a picture, 사진을 찍다.”

“Same word.”

“So I need to think of dipping a camera into sauce now?”

Good Man laughed, “It also means to cut wood into two pieces, more pieces?”

“Chop wood. OK, so now I have to think of a wooden camera being dipped in sauce.”

Good Man burst out laughing.

And Despite My Whining…
Last night Mother called. Good Man told me that his father’s younger sister wanted to talk to me.

I’ve written before about how phone conversations are really difficult for me because I can’t see the person speaking. That’s part of the reason I like our video chats so much.

“Does she speak English?”

“No, none.”

I braced myself and took the phone. Mother and I chatted briefly and then she handed the phone over to 시고모 (husband’s father’s sister).

시고모 started off by telling me I was beautiful. Hey, you’re my new favorite 시고모! She then went on to tell us congratulations, to wish us luck, to say how excited she was to meet me, how we must get married in Korea next year so that I can meet the whole family, and good luck in our future together.

I had to think “미래” (future). But everything else? Without mentally translating, I understood every word of what she was saying.

It was a short conversation, but when Mother came back on the phone, I was so excited.

“어머니! 이해했어요! 똑똑한 여자예요!” Mother! I understood everything! I am a smart girl!

Mother laughed, agreed, and told me that 큰아버지’s daughter (Father’s older brother’s) was getting married and the whole family was going to be there and she was bringing a photo of me (us?) to show everyone how beautiful I am.

Mother cracks me up.

Of course, it occurs to me that now that I’m part of a Korean family, I really should learn all of the Korean family vocabulary. Damn.

Hating Life, Geekiness, and How to Make a 75% Tip

Hating Life
Amanda, just returning home after being at work for six hours on a Saturday; a Saturday where it was a balmy 72 degrees or so: OMG. I just got home. I hate life.

Good Man, at school himself, working on a group project: sorry about it

Amanda: Are you going to ask me for a ride?

Good Man: not really, if you hate life :*

75% Tip
I did pick up Good Man, and we went out to lunch. We then stopped by the drug store and came home. Before getting out of the car, Good Man leaned forward in his seat. “Oh. Shit.”

I looked at him. “Did you forget your laptop?”

“Um…yeah. It’s on the chair.”

We drove back to the restaurant and he went inside. I could see him from the car. He walked to his chair and found…nothing. He turned around, went out of view, and came out of the restaurant a few moments later, swinging his laptop bag.

I held out $20. “Go back inside and hand this to the waitress.”

Geeky Good Man
“I am so excited to update your GPS with hack!”

I laughed. “You’re weird.”

“I will go get GPS from your car.”

“You’re not wearing pants. Are you going to put on pants at 11:30 at night just to go out and get the GPS?”

Good Man nodded. “My geekiness outweighs my laziness.”

I read aloud from 재미있는 한국어읽기 2급, which should be renamed 심심한 한국어읽기.

“이 사진에 보이는 멋있는 두 남자는 저와 제 친구입니다.”

When Good Man started giggling at the same time I did, I knew I’d understood the sentence.

The two handsome men you see in this photo are my friend and me.