one girl's journey across kpop paradise

Monthly Archives: November 2011

Hey guys! On a cheerier note, I would like to share with you my current Korean-learning methods and how you can learn Korean, the best way possible.

Lately my Korean friends have been telling me that my Korean has improved – one friend who didn’t know I was learning Korean even told me she didn’t know I spoke Korean so well! Honestly, I think they’re just flattering me because they’re nice, but it doesn’t hurt to have Koreans recognize my continuous efforts to learn their (rather difficult) language.

A couple of weeks ago, I met this guy at Language Cast who has a Master’s Degree in English Language Learning or something along those lines. He said that the best way for a beginner to learn a new language is first by memorizing 800 (I think I remembered that number correctly) of the language’s most frequently used words. He calls it a ‘frequency corpus’ but when I looked online for it, I couldn’t find a good list. He says that after you memorize these words, you should fully immerse yourself in the language – listening and watching Korean TV shows would be the easiest way. And he says to turn the subs (even Korean) off.

So I was interested in this idea, and I tried it, but in the end, the method is not for me. I feel like I’m talking about modifying current diet methods or something. But it’s actually kind of similar, honestly. Both with weight and language acquisition, if you don’t keep it up, you will lose it (or in the case of weight, gain it back). So for me, I have developed the following method.

  1. Everyday, or as often as I can, look up words in the English Naver dictionary. This dictionary has become like my bible. It’s really wonderful, and gives every usage of a word, and usages of different words with similar meaning. The only downside is that it doesn’t pronounce the Korean sentences, just the English, because I think it’s a dictionary created for Koreans to learn English.
  2. I watch Korean dramas all the time. I make sure it’s a drama or TV show that interests me, and I have English subtitles. Many people say having English subs won’t help you learn, but for me, it’s the opposite. I’ve learned so much Korean by watching dramas with English subs. I don’t want to just fumble in the dark for the meaning of a sentence – I want to know it, so that when I hear it again, I’ll know it.
  3. Try to speak in Korean as much as possible with Koreans and with friends learning Korean. Even if I don’t know the correct/proper way to say something, I want to try saying it. Practice makes perfect, after all.
  4. I keep a Korean verbs and a Korean expressions notebook, for jotting down every new verb and expression I learn. I also write down examples and sentences next to every new verb/expression, and the act of simply writing down what I learn is helpful for memory consolidation. Plus, I really like having a reference book to look at when I’m fumbling for words.
So that’s it! My four simple steps to better Korean everyday! Trust me, I’ve tried a lot of different books, websites, and methods, but these four things are what I’ve found to be the most effective. Sure, I will keep going to Korean class, but I think this is by far more effective..and fun. I’m sincerely really excited to learn Korean this way, and I’m often bored to tears in Korean class, since the class is either too advanced or too simple for me. This way is the best, for I can always be at my own level.
Have your own way of learning Korean? Please share in the comments below!

As I sit here, an inexplicable sadness is washing over me. Perhaps it’s the fact that I only have a month here left. Perhaps it’s the fact that I didn’t get off my lazy butt to go to Inkigayo. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s Sunday and that I didn’t leave the dorm all day long. Whatever it is, it’s haunting me.

I’ve not been getting much sleep, but at the same time, I haven’t been all that productive with my time either. Right now, I have tons of things catching up to me. An article that’s due, a speech to present in Korean class, among other things. I’ve been slacking on learning Korean. I’ve been, in general, going out less. I think I may be experiencing signs of a burn-out. Over the past 2-3 months, I’ve been trying to do so much and I think I’ve seriously overdone the physical limits of my body and the emotional/mental limits of my mind.

Wow, getting so metaphysical and wordy here. I think, that as much as I love Seoul and Korea, that it may be best for me to be going back to the States in about a month. The time restraint made me feel really pressured, and I haven’t been able to enjoy as much as I should have here in Korea. Everything seemed like a deadline, and I lived just to check off that little thing I wanted to do on my bucket list. But that shouldn’t be the way to enjoy Seoul. That’s like waaay offensive to such a great city.

Rambling off right now, I’ve added a new place on my bucket list. It’s called Heyri Art Valley, and here’s the link to some good pictures of it. A fellow KU exchange student visited it recently, and I was really inspired by the pictures she took. It’s located in Paju, several hours from Seoul, but it looks absolutely beautiful (as does almost everything else here).

I want to stop it with these sad blog posts, but I can’t. I’ve developed such an attachment for this city – it’s only the 4th place I’ve ever lived at for an extended period of time – and it’s my favorite so far. It’s like tearing a lollipop out of a child’s hands just when she is enjoying it the most. Or taking her most beloved stuffed animal from her. What pain the little girl must feel. I don’t want to feel that pain. Perhaps I won’t suffer the same fate, for I know (almost for certain) that I will be coming back.

It’s official: I just never get any sleep here in Korea. And you know what? I’m used to that fact. I’m just going to be constantly tired, and that’s okay with me, because I’m going to be leaving in just over a month. And there’s still too much left to do.

Lately I’ve taken a sort-of part-time writing job for this Korean pop culture website, and though I don’t have the job yet, I have to say I really enjoy writing again :) Writing in this blog is a really nice release and I can just write whatever the hell I want on it, but it’s nice to see my (good) writing published once again. I realized how much I love writing – it is still one of my greatest passions – and I think I will continue to pursue it, as I pursue my other passions.

I just rediscovered my love for singer Kim Bo Kyung. The girl can fucking sing. Unlike the kpop stars these days who can skate by just by staying on tune, Kim Bo Kyung has a mighty good voice. I’ve been following her for almost a year now, ever since her Haru Haru/Brand New Day days (her first mini album). She showcased her fantastic belting voice then, and in City Hunter’s OST, her song Suddenly was just amazing. I had it on repeat for god knows how long. And I’m sad to say that I just discovered her latest mini album, called Growing. The title song, 아파 (It Hurts), is fucking brilliant. Sorry for cursing so much in this post, but I’m kind of like head over heels in love with this girl’s voice. It’s the voice I’ve always, always envied growing up. I wanted to be a singer for the longest time, and if I had to choose, I would take Kim Bo Kyung’s voice over anyone else’s…except maybe Kelly Clarkson. Bo Kyung really admires Kelly Clarkson and people have dubbed her the Korean Kelly Clarkson. Here, listen to her latest song and you dare tell me her voice isn’t amazing!

I just found Kim Bo Kyung’s fansite. On it, it lists her upcoming schedule and there’s a concert on Monday and you can bet on your house, your horse, and your father’s entire family that I will try my best to go see her perform. Otherwise, I will just go see her perform at Music Bank next Friday. Either way, I’m gonna go see this girl live before I leave Korea. She has been such a long-time inspiration of mine for me not to see her perform.

Anyway, fangirling over Kim Bo Kyung aside, I just remembered that City Hunter has the most beautiful cinematography. And oh wait, what was a big part of that? The shooting locations. Seoul is so beautiful – there are so many parts of it I still haven’t discovered that I need to explore. One of them is the Seoul Color Park (서울색공원). I found this great thread for pictures. Gorgeous, right? Gonna put it on my bucket list.

There’s that place that I saw in City Hunter that I’ve been just dying to go to….and I just can’t find the name of it. If you watch this video, it’s the place that Lee Minho and Park Min-young go at the beginning of the cut…they’re standing on this bridge overlooking a high-speed bypass. It’s beautiful…and I need to find where it is, so I can go, if even for several minutes.

On the other hand, I received my first role here in Korea. It’s for a student film, and I’ll be speaking in English (thank goodness!). I think I’ve developed quite a thick skin for auditioning and rejection over the years, so I’m not as excited as I would have been years ago, but I’m still very excited to work on this project. I’ll update you guys on it as I have more information, and I might even post the final product on here :)

As for my Korean, I am improving steadily day by day. I can actually speak in broken sentences and convey basic ideas and feelings now! Even though my Korean is still very broken and my vocabulary is very much limited, I feel like I’ve made great progress and this success is helping me feel like I can keep working hard toward mastering the language. I can officially check of the ‘Have a conversation only in Korean’ as of today! I had two Korean conversations today :) 好好学习,天天向上。Chinese proverb, hollaback at ‘cha.

Perhaps I will go back to Hongdae and buy this for my future boyfriend-to-be.

Having been in Korea for almost three months now, I can’t help but notice the plethora of couples around. And my oh my are they cute. Freaking adorable. Couples everywhere, holding hands, giving each other forehead kisses, dwelling behind street corners, hoping no one will see them exchange what may be perceived to be too much PDA. This is Korea, after all.

I wish someone would give me a 'pig-rabbit' :)

What’s cute is that I live on campus, and though foreign students don’t have a curfew, Korean students definitely have a curfew (not to mention gender-specific dorms). They have to be back at the dorm at 12:30 AM and if they’re even one minute late, they have to brave the cold outdoors until 5 AM. Walking home from a late dinner or a coffee session, I often see couples furtively exchange their affections in the dark just as their curfew nears. They act as if they don’t want to leave each other’s side, even though they know their curfew is fast approaching. Sometimes they catch me looking in their direction, and then try to turn away, as if embarrassed. It’s really endearing.


I see them walking hand-in-hand in the subway, on the streets, shopping in Myeongdong, climbing Bukhansan (the only mountain within the city of Seoul) – and sometimes they sport couple T’s. Couple T’s are shirts that couples wear that are identical or complimentary in some way. Usually they are really cute – adorable designs with bright colors – they want to display to the public that they are a thing. As if we wouldn’t already know, from the way they act. Sometimes couples have couple sneakers (also very bright and fun), and others have couple rings. I kind of want to stuff these couple paraphernalia-wearing couples in my suitcase and bring them back with me to the States. Not that I really want to go back to the States. But I kind of have to….at least for now.

The presence of these all these couples normally would kind of faze me…being the romantic that I am, I expected myself to wallow in self-pity. What’s wrong with me? Am I not pretty enough? Do I not stand out? What exactly am I doing wrong? But, having been in Korea for several months, and having met a lot of Korean guys, I can honestly say that I frankly don’t give a rat’s behind about being single in what I consider to be a strong couple culture. I haven’t met anyone who I genuinely feel like I could be in a real relationship with here, and that’s perfectly fine with me.

Granted, I still think Korean guys are the cutest guys in the world (and I’m certainly not alone on this – I’ve met so many girls who could not agree more haha). Maybe it’s just that I’ve matured a bit about the whole thing. How in love are most of these couples anyway? Given the sheltered nature of many Koreans growing up, I expect the campus couples I see daily to have had little experience in dating. Perhaps they found their soulmate, or perhaps they found someone with whom they could pleasantly pass the time. Regardless, I am happy (and not grumpy) to see the love and happiness everywhere. It gives me hope in my future happiness.

The stairway to heaven?

So, it’s officially the halfway point of my stay here in Korea. I have two months left. At this point, I am tempted to do two things: 1) reflect on what I’ve done so far and 2) mope over all I haven’t done and won’t be able to do in the remaining two months.

But I will not do such things. I CANNOT do such things. My remaining time here is limited, and I must make the most of it. The simplest things here, such as the plethora of beautiful cafes, random food sellers on the street, cutesy accessory and clothes stores, and the simple existence of Asians (especially Koreans) everywhere, make me so happy and make me feel that no matter what I was doing here in the future, I would love to live here in Seoul.

Something I’ve been feeling lately – I’m so close to everything (kpop stars are living a couple subway stops from me! There are so many Korean guys but I’m too shy to actually talk to them!) but at the same time, so far away. What did I come here to do? There are so many things I wanted to do when thinking about coming here, but I really haven’t done a great many of those things. Sometimes I feel a little bit disappointed about my experience here so far – I have friends who have actually seen kpop stars up close, I have friends who have actually gotten into live music shows, I have friends who have had Korean guys actually taken in interest in them, and the list could go on and on, but I know this is really destructive behavior and that I should just stop right here.

The solution to this all is to just stay here. But I know I can’t do that…at least not for now. My plan for now is to go back to the States after this semester and finish my bachelor’s degree and then come back here to teach English while taking intensive Korean classes. And then I will pursue my acting career here. I’m still a bit iffy about this – it will take more than a little bit of perseverance and dedication to make it as an actress here, and I know myself more than anyone else – I have a weak will. My heart yearns for so much, but my body can only handle so much. Therein lies my greatest dilemma. Stay in the States and have it easy or come back to Seoul and live in what someone told me yesterday was a “exciting hell”? So true, so true – Seoul is exciting in so many ways, but at the same time, its fast-paced atmosphere can sometimes become overwhelming.

I went to Myeongdong with my friend Simon last Friday. Here are some happy pictures and we had kalguksu at a really famous place! It’s really well-prepared noodles with mandu :) And the kimchi was amazing!

Really expensive green tea cake/tiramisu/ice cream place we wanted to go to -__-;;

Me trying on boots on the street ^^

Simon trying on a farmer/hipster hat ;)

How cute are the eyelashes?

The most delicious kalguksu and mandu :)

What am I doing here? Where am I going? These days I feel really lost and without answers…but maybe that’s the point…