Speak Korean, Scare a Korean

So today it was election day (ugh, that crazy psycho man who thinks no woman should have access to birth control won) which meant that we could “choose” to go into work. Fairy Godmother and I chose to go in for about 2 hrs. We had a meeting and then went shopping.

I’m introducing Fairy Godmother to Korean food. She likes some types of rice cake. So we went to the 떡집, sampled some rice cakes, and bought some 꿀떡 (honey filled rice cakes). The cashier was young but had an accent (유학생, perhaps?). We conducted the whole thing in English and as I walked away I said, “수고 하세요!”

She gasped in surprise and when I turned around she was sprawled across the counter.

Score one for Amanda.

We then went to the gimbap place. I explained the various dishes to Fairy Godmother and we decided on gimbap and jjinmandu. I walked up to the counter and ordered in Korean. The woman understood me and the other people in the kitchen (who could hear me but couldn’t see me) stretched their necks to see who was speaking. I do, after all, still have an accent.

More side dishes, a to-go box, a fork… Did it all in Korean.

Score another one for Amanda.

When I lived in Korea and was alone, I’d always order in Korean. Good Man and I would split ordering in Korea. But in America, Koreans never expect me to order in Korean, especially if I’m with Good Man, so I usually let him do it. If I order and he’s with me, they’re surprised. But if I order without him around, standing next to another white woman? They’re astonished.

Tonight I peeked at my worms. I couldn’t remember the Korean word. “에비? 발이?”

“벌레,” Good Man said, “but we call those worms 지렁이. Earthworm.”

“지 like that word I asked about last night?” Last night I’d been reading The Little Prince and kept running into 지구. I thought it might be “region” or something similar since 지역 is region.

“Ah, 지구, yes.”

“지리학!” I yelled out. Geography. Good Man nodded and I smiled. “I am very clever.”

지 (地) Earth
지구: globe; earth
천지: heaven and earth (also a series of forms in taekwondo)
지옥: hell
지진: earthquake
지하(철): underground (subway)
지도: map
지리(학(자)): geography (geographer)
지역: region
현지: that very spot

There are more examples, of course, but these are the ones that made me smile or nod. I’ve been confusing 지도 and 기도 (ji-do and gi-do, map and prayer) for years. I finally came up with “jeez, I forgot the map” and “God, I forgot to pray” to link English letters with the Korean sounds. But this root knowledge will make a much better hook!