Studying Korean

I am re-reading The Little Prince in Korean (어린 왕자), in graphic novel format. I got to chapter four with the king. He kept ending verbs in “-라.”

I asked Good Man about it. “What is this 오서 오너라? 모모 하지 마라?”

“Ahhh, that is 하노라 form. It’s used by kings and yangban class—”

I held up my hand and started shaking my head. It was as I’d expected. “Nevermind, I don’t need to memorize this. I will just ignore the ending.”


Since staying with Mother for more than a week has put the fear of the mother-in-law in me, I’ve been studying Korean more lately. Conveniently, this lines up with Gori Girl’s language challenge. As such, I’ve been posting more over at 한국어 공책. A week ago, I posted this.

From next week through the end of this year, I will study Korean 1 hr a day, 5 days a week, including writing 1 journal entry of at least 1 page, size 12, double-spaced in Korean.

If I succeed, I get to spend $50 on Korean books. If I fail, well, I suck.

I haven’t gotten to an hour a day most days. But I’ve gotten close. The five hours a week part is what I’m really aiming for, but I didn’t want it to turn into a weekend of massive study sessions.

As part of my goal, I’ve decided to participate in National Blog Posting Month—over at 한국어 공책. I’ll be posting once a day about my studies. It’s mostly going to be a boring account of what I’ve studied, but at least it’ll keep me honest!

Grammar Books

I also found two new Korean grammar books on Amazon, Basic Korean and Intermediate Korean, both subtitled A Grammar and Workbook. They are published by Routledge.

I have Korean Grammar for International Learners already. It’s good. It’s very detailed. It also has sentences like this (about 과/이, 하고, (이)랑, found on page 159).

When coordinate particles are used in conjunction with predicates which require two nouns, they express the idea that the two nouns either have something in common or are comparable.

Compare this to Basic Korean, page 102.

The particle 와/과 tends to be used in formal or written communication. […] The particle (이)랑 tends to be used for more informal and/or colloquial settings. […] There is no apparent meaning difference between 하고 and the other two particles 와/과/(이)랑. However, 하고 seems to be less [formal] than 와/과 but more formal than (이)랑.

Well, that finally explains why Good Man uses (이)랑 when ordering things at a restaurant! That also explains why I see (이)랑 in writing in children’s books and when people are speaking banmal in books, but I only see 와/과 in newspapers.

I think International and both Routledge books are useful to Korean learners. International Learners has a much, much better index than the Routledge books. And it had grammar points I haven’t found elsewhere. The publisher (Yonsei University Press) also has a separate grammar workbook. This is an excellent reference book.

The explanations in the Routledge books are much clearer to someone who hated learning grammar in school. Also, the exercises are built right into the books, which people might find more convenient. These books seem more “readable” and seem easier to study. Also, before the exercises in each chapter there’s a word list of necessary vocabulary.

I’ve been reading Basic but not doing the exercises. I’m reviewing things I already know and it’s clarifying things I’ve come to sense over time.

Dragon Fruit

Longer version of this entry is available in Korean.

Last week Fairy Godmother Co-Worker and I went to Super HMart together. She wanted to see what sort of food they had and she likes it when I explain what the foods are. Super HMart was having an Asian food fair and that meant we got “service,” too, in the form of free Lock-and-Locks! (OK, a Korean knock-off of Lock-and-Lock.)

They also had dragon fruit. I decided to get some because we never eat it and I recall eating it in Thailand and Vietnam.

I gave Good Man a half a dragon fruit to eat for dessert one day this week. He was not impressed.

“키위 친구 친구!” It’s kiwi’s friend friend! He also called it kiwi’s half- half-brother. I asked how that was possible and he was not sure.

I asked him to try one more bite. He obliged, but was not impressed.



Naked Boy, Put on Some Clothes and Go to Korea

Dead Meat: Naked boy! Put on some clothes!

Robot: I’m so, so cold! Where are the clothes?

Amanda Teacher, shaking her head and trying not to laugh: ‘Naked boy! Put on some clothes.’ Not something I ever thought I’d hear in my classroom. I think that will be the title of my teaching memoir. Naked Boy: Put on Some Clothes.

For the record, the students were acting out one of the difficulties of being an explorer during the Age of Exploration. They were showing “inadequate supplies.” Nobody was naked. (Whether or not my students need to wear more clothing is up for debate.)


12월25일 21시15분부터 1월8일 12시15분까지 한국에서 있을거야! From 12/25 until 1/8 we’ll be in Korea.

We called Mother to tell her the news. Good Man told her we were coming on Christmas.

She asked, “언제 와?” When are you coming?

“이십오일이에요.” The 25th.

“앗! 크리스마스!” Oh! Christmas!

I laughed and said, “You go to church!” She laughed, too.

We also called Master, which was especially fun.

“여보세요?” he said. Hello?

“관장님이예요?” Is this Master?

“네.” He sounded very tired and I double checked the clock, afraid I’d calculated the time incorrectly.

“안녕하세요!” I said. Hello.

There was a pause. “안녕하세요…”

“누구 몰라요?” You don’t know who this is?

“누구예요?” he said. Who is this?

“아만다예요!” It’s Amanda!

Master roared with laughter and his voice suddenly sounded awake. I told him we were coming to Korea and he chased the dates out of my mouth. He demanded I come to the studio. Wouldn’t miss it for the world!


Good Man found an awesome Firefox Add-On to spell check in Korean. I’ve only used it a few times but I really like it.

I Should’ve Been Born Korean

“Did you read my essay?”

Good Man nodded. “Yes, it was good.”

“I don’t believe you.”


I shook my head, “Because you always say that, and when I type my things up and post them [on Lang-8], I always get corrections.”

“Yeah, that is the beauty of learning.”

Good Man wanted 비빔밥 (bibimbap) this week. Bibimbap is literally “mixed rice.” You basically take whatever veggies are in the back of the fridge and sauté them, salt-water soak them, or boil them. Then you layer them on top of a bowl of rice, alternating the colors so it looks pretty. An egg in the center, some sesame seeds, possibly some seaweed or meat, and some gochujang on the top and you’re good to go.

You admire the bibimbap for about 8 seconds and then mix it all up into a delicious mess.

A variation on this is to put the rice in a hot bowl. The rice forms a nice crust on the bottom.

Good Man and I made vegetarian bibimbap tonight with carrots, red-leaf lettuce, mushrooms, leeks, an egg, and some seaweed (김). Damn, it was good! I should’ve been born Korean.

Good Man simply piled everything into a mess in his bowl. I made everything pretty first.

Good Man frowned. “The beauty of bibimbap is in the mixing!”

“No, the beauty in bibimbap is in destroying the beauty of bibimbap.”

My Bibimbap

Good Man

I Like Smart Men…

And he is.

So the chain in our toilet broke. Now, we rent, so it’s really up to our landlord to fix it. But he was out of town, and I didn’t want to tidy up the living room (judge me as you will), so we went and spent $2.59 to buy a new chain.

I figured it couldn’t be too hard to replace a chain. The guy at Home Depot told us what to do and the box had directions on it. No problem, right?

Except we couldn’t turn the water off. The valve was really, really stuck and I could only turn it approximately 180 degrees in either direction.

Good Man’s solution?

Turning Off the Water With a Chopstick

It worked, and after some minor adjustments, the chain was fixed!

Giving it Up To and For Good Man (In Other Words: Fårö)

Honeymoon: Fårö

To the tune of 산토끼 토끼야:

양들아 양들아

양들아 뭐하니?
풀을 풀을 배불리
냠냠 먹구나!

Saturday, our second full day in Gotland, we rented a car and went to Fårö. Johan, the owner of Café Tidsfördriv (Hästgatan 12, 621 56 Visby—highly recommended), told us we should rent a car and drive up to Fårö, an island that makes up the northern part of Gotland.

We had problems finding a rental car, it was rainy and cold and I just wanted to go back to the hotel. But Good Man kept saying, “When a local tells you to go somewhere, you go.”

And we found a car and drove up to Fårö and…It was amazing. I am so glad that Good Man didn’t let up. The details are in the photo album. Well, most of them. The private jokes aren’t.

We got to these chalk rock formations (rauk in Swedish) when a storm was coming up and the photos? If the weather had been any better or any worse, the photos would’ve been flat and boring.

We stumbled upon Ingmar Bergman’s grave by accident. A church was to our left, a sea behind us, sheep to our right, Bergman in front of us. We were the only two in the churchyard.

We found 700+ year old churches.


The whole day taught me that I need to give it up to Good Man more. If I had gotten my way, that would not have been the best day of the trip. And it truly was. It was the day we’ll go back to, over and over. “Do you remember when…?”

Thank you, Good Man.


I need to get back to studying Korean. To that end, I’ve set new goals through December on my Korean language blog.

We’re going to Seoul over winter break and we’re going to be staying with Good Man’s family.

I’ll be with Mother. In her house. For breakfast. And dinner. And possibly lunch.

I need to study.


We called Mother tonight and she asked us to get something at HMart for her.

Why does my Korean mother-in-law need something from a Korean grocery store in America? Because she can’t find it in Korea. “Not even at Costco.”

She wants honey powder. I’ve never even used honey powder and now I’ve been told to get “a lot” of Cactus Honey Powder, which Google tells me is from the agave plant in Mexico.

Now, see, Mother! If your son hadn’t gone off and married a foreigner you’d never know about the glory of honey powder from Mexico procured at a Korean grocery store in America.

Second and Third Full Days in Stockholm

The second full day in Stockholm we went to several places:
Katarina Hissen (10 SEK)
K.A. Almgrens Sidenväveri *
Stockholms Stadsmuseet (free)

Kungliga Slottet (which includes a ton of sites—Skattkammaren, Museum Tre Kronor…) (140 SEK)
Storkyrkan (25 SEK)
Observatoriemuseet *

Unfortunately, we could not get into Almgrens. We knocked at multiple doors. We rang bells and entered numbers into keypads, and we just could not get in. Since it’s a silk mill, it was probably good for our wallets that we couldn’t get in.

We decided to go to the Observatory because it’s only open in the winter and it was mostly clear, which meant we’d be able to see stars. But… Good Man zonked out after all of the other sight-seeing and by the time we made it up there we were hungry and cranky. We ended up eating dinner and not making it to the Observatory on time to see the stars. Oh, well!

Wednesday we took it easy:
Medeltidsmuseet (40 SEK poster, free)
Nobel Museum (70 SEK)

We explored more of the city on foot, bought some souvenirs for Good Man’s family, and ate Korean food. The owner spoke Korean, although our waitress didn’t. And we didn’t get any kimchi. A Korean restaurant without kimchi? Um…

Using the Stockholm Card (which cost us 595 SEK each) we covered 555 SEK in entrance fees plus multiple subway and bus rides, which I’m sure came in at more than 40 SEK. It was a good choice to get it.

The Stockholm Dress

What do you get when you combine:
16 balls of sock yarn,
two months of time,
a half dozen pairs of circular needles,
278,318 sts,
vintage knitting magazines,
the desire to knit something for your honeymoon,
and an encouraging friend?

The Stockholm Dress

The Stockholm Dress

Front View

Three-Quarters View

Side View

Back View

Making It

After knitting my purple skirt, I got some wild idea that I should knit a dress. This idea was encouraged by my knitting mentor (who makes me think I can do anything), Ida Riley Duncan’s Knit to Fit book, vintage Vogue Knitting and McCall’s magazines, and a husband who thinks like my mentor does. “Well, it is just math, and you are good knitter, so do it.” (My husband does not knit.)

With help from Knitting Mentor, I chose to use Elann’s Sock-It-To-Me in grey heather. I wanted to knit at a fine gauge because fine-gauge dresses and skirts look good, the nylon would prevent sagging, and the stable gauge would prevent seating out and bagging. I also bought Addi Turbos in sizes 0 and 1 in lengths ranging from 12″ to 60″. I ended up working up a gauge of 35 sts and 48 rows over 4″ using the size 1 needles.

I case on provisionally for the waist and knit downward in the round on US size 1 needles, increasing at eight points around for the skirt. When it was about the right length I removed the provisional cast-on and knit the bodice in the round. I split the work and worked back and forth for the armholes and the v-necks (the front is a deeper v-neck whereas the back is a shallow v-neck). When the body was finished, I used three-needle bind-off for the shoulder seams. The sleeves and I had a battle. No matter which sort of sleeve shaping I used (and I used multiple resources to do the math!), I could not get a good looking cap. So instead I worked a set-in, top-down sleeve using short row shaping. I tried on the dress, which was now mostly complete, to determine the final length of the dress.

I finished the dress using hems. For the v-neck I picked up stitches using the size 1 needles, knit several rows, and switched to the size 0s. I worked a turning row and the inside rows on the smaller needle. I then tacked each stitch down by hand sewing it into place. I also worked hems on the sleeves and lower edge of the skirt, except I went into them straight from the body with no need to pick anything up.

As a final touch, I created an alphabet chart and duplicate stitched my name and 2009 into the inside hem of the skirt.

I started the dress on July 24th and finished the entire thing by September 24th. Perfect timing for an October honeymoon in Sweden!


Shoulder, Three-Needle Bind Off, Wrong Side

Sleeve, Picked Up Stitches, Wrong Side

Sleeve Hem, Wrong Side

V-Neck, Right Side

V-Neck, Wrong Side

Increases, Right Side

Increases, Wrong Side

Lower Hem, Right Side

Lower Hem Detailing, Wrong Side

Wearing It

Hiding From Rain

Hanging Out With Some Goats in Visby, Gotland, Sweden

Good Man
(Who Took All Of These Photos and Measured Me… Multiple Times)