one girl's journey across kpop paradise

Category Archives: Korean Learning

안녕, how are you guys doing these days?
I’ve been feeling very out of sorts lately. Uncertain about my life, sick of school, and to be honest, quite sick of life in general. I feel like I have no accomplishments, no skills, no talents, and very little chance of succeeding at anything I want to do. I’m sure you also have these kinds of phases, but honestly I’ve been feeling this for the past couple of years. It was when I discovered my love for Korea that my motivation started to rekindle, but lately any hope of that changing my life has been once again dwindling. I can’t connect with people either. It feels like there are no people out there that really understand me, nor do I come across anyone I even feel like I could relate to on a deeper level.

So…lately I’ve been writing in my Korean journal a lot. My partner reading it has been asking me what it is that’s been bothering me, but to be honest, I don’t think he could really understand the extent of how I feel judging by his English ability at this point. To be fair, I can’t understand anything deep he says in Korean, so I think we’re even in that respect. He’s also having a bit of a hard time here in America, and I feel like I’m drifting further and further away from him, which is kind of breaking my heart, but by the way he’s been acting lately, there’s frankly not much I can do about it.

So to continue my soulful, sad streak, here’s another entry in my Korean journal:

요즘은 난 정말 피곤하고 지쳤다. 정말 피공하고 지쳤는데…그래서 일기를 더 쓰고 싶은 것 같다. 늘 혼자 있고 싶다. 혼자서 조용하게 실고 싶다. 친구를 만나는 것도 불편해졌다. 요즘은 난 이곳 저곳 방황하는 것 같다. 위마가 없이, 목적이 없이, 의욕까지 없이 살고 있다. 자주 과거를 생각한다. 과거의 핸복한 순간들을 샣각한다. 예전에 완벽하지 않았어도 적어도 행복한 순간 있은 것 같다. 요즘은 사는 낙이 하나도 없다.

Mistakes are inevitable. Please forgive me ~

Since I don’t have inspiration much these days to write a lot about Korea and Korean learning, feel free to ask me questions in the comments here. Also, some people have been emailing me questions about Korea, and sorry I haven’t exactly gotten back to all of you. Some of your questions have been a bit difficult and out of my range of knowledge, so I’m still slowly working on them. Hope all is well ~

Sorry I haven’t been updating!

Lately I’ve been so busy with schoolwork and to be honest, I’ve been really preoccupied with Tumblr. Just looking at my blog, you can see how much I’ve been reblogging. I’m quite obsessed with Tumblr right now, and with the debut of SM’s new boy group EXO, which I’m slightly head over heels for atm, there’s no way you could pull me from Tumblr right now.

But I wanted to give you guys a bit of an update on my Korean learning. Since February, I’ve been meeting up with a Korean language buddy. He’s really nice but it’s still hard to actually practice Korean with him, given my poor speaking skills. However, last week I decided to do something I had once done with a language exchange partner in Korea. The idea is for both you and your buddy to get a journal, to write in it daily, and then exchange it when you meet, and have the buddy correct your grammar. It gives me a bit more responsibility to work on my Korean on a daily basis, so I think it’s a good thing. And he’s a native Korean speaker (and I’m a native English speaker), so it’s good for both of us. Some of the sentences he’s written are quite cute and funny (for me, he referred to me as “my Julie,” which at once amused and touched me, but I know he didn’t mean it in that way ^^).

I decided to do something random today and write a letter in my journal called “A breakup letter to my lover” because I’ve been watching this new drama Twelve Men in a Year and it’s inspired me to write about that. Here it is below, and I’m pretty sure the grammar is not totally right, and if you want, you’re free to correct me before my partner does in the comments below!

내 애인한테 헤어지자는 편지
안녕, 잘 지냈지?
우린 언제 부터 서러 알고 있었니?
3년 되었어.
우린 얼마나 행복했는 줄 알아?
그런데 네가 다 버렸어. 왜?
네가 왜 그런 식으로 날 다루는 건지?
이제 그만하자. 헤어지자.
마음대로 생각해. 난 상관 없거든.
날 걱정하지마. 내가 널 가장 필요한 순간때 네가 없었거든. 왜? 시간이 없을만큼 바빴건지?
넌 날 진심으로 사랑했어? 제발 나 좀 그만 웃겨.
난 예전처럼 널 사랑하지 않아서 다행이다.
그렇니까 날 좀 내버려둬. 제발. 부탁해.
에제 너의 마지막 기회다.
이기회가 놓치지마.
난 더 이상 찬을 수가 없을 테니까…
날 보내줘.

What did you think? If you read the entire thing, then props to you! I honestly had no idea what I was writing, and I did have to check my Korean expressions dictionary from time to time. Do you want a translation? If yes, then reply in the comments below. Remember, don’t take this as Korean studying help because I’m not sure about the grammatical correctness of it. It’s just my own personal writing exercise hehe.

On the lines of the drama, I really do recommend you watch Twelve Men in a Year (also called Twelve Signs of Love, but that’s the “American” translation). I see a lot of you came to my blog looking for a review of the drama I Need Romance, and although I don’t think Twelve Men in a Year is quite as good as I Need Romance, I think it definitely somewhat fills the gap in my heart that I Need Romance left. You can watch Twelve Men in a Year on Hulu if you live in the United States, but there are other links to it as well: Epdrama and KimchiDrama. Have fun!

Hello everyone!

Since I started this blog back in August, it’s been about eight months of me blogging about Korea and its beautiful language, people, culture, etc. And thank you lovely people for visiting my site, whether through references or just randomly stumbling upon it from Google search. I’m truly grateful.

Since I’m not longer in Korea right now, I haven’t been able to update the blog regularly with experiences and stories from Korea – because I’m no longer there. However, I’ve met a lot of people with equal amounts of enthusiasm for the language and culture, and I just wanted to plug them a bit.

If you’re looking for a network of friends to study Korean with you, go to Self Study Korean. The site is run by a bunch of really awesome people from all walks of life with one thing in common – their love for the beautiful language that is Korean. I’ve been frequenting it because not only does it help me in my journey to mastering Korean, there’s a feeling of community and belonging on the site.

If you’re looking for a Korean pen pal, go to Interpals. You can pick what language you want to be your target language, and you can make friends who you can share languages with. I think the website is fairly safe, and I haven’t heard any creepo stories from it, so I think you will be okay trying to find friends on it.

If you’re looking for a westerner’s perspective on Korean culture, go to Noonablog. Paula, the writer behind Noonablog, has been living in Seoul for the past couple of years, and she has a lot of insight into Korean culture. She’s also into fashion, so a lot of her posts are about fashion (happy for me ^^), and I’ve met her personally (she’s awesome), so I promise you you won’t be bored by her blog!

If you’re looking for a good website for authentic Korean merchandise, go to G Market. This website is one of Korean’s largest e-markets, and it has everything, from clothes to cosmetics to food to furniture. The prices are decent, and they have worldwide shipping. I haven’t personally bought from the website, but I have friends who have, and I’ve heard no complaints. If nothing else, the endless pages of cute clothes (and the guys’ clothing section has a lot of cute models ^^) should keep you occupied.

Right now, I’m a little out of ideas, but if you think of any other good resources for Korean-related things, let me know! And also, if you want me to blog about anything in particular, feedback is always appreciated <3


Hello everyone!

I’ve decided to start a new series called Korean Survival Skills, for those of you who may be so brave to travel to Korea without proficiency in Korean. In Korea, it’s quite necessary to know how to speak the language to get anything done, but if you’re feeling feisty, read my guide and hopefully you’ll be able to order successfully! Let me know how it goes!

Caution: I’m not a fluent speaker by any means. These are just the basics I’ve learned through experience. If I mess up the grammar or phrasing, please let me know and I will fix it. The romanization isn’t the standard way to romanize, but I made it so that it sounds most logical to English-speaking ears.

[At your arrival]
Waiter: 몇분이세요? (myot bun i seyo) [How many people are there?]

You: 한(두/셋/넷/다섯/여섯/일곱/여덜/아홉/열) 분이에요 (han/du/set/net/tahsot/yeosot/ilgop/ahop/yeol – bun i eyo) [One/two/three/four/five/six/seven/eight/nine/ten people]

Waiter: 이쪽으로 오세요. (I jjokero ohseyo) [Come this way]

(Calling over the waiter) You: 저기요! (cho ggi yo) [Excuse me (lit. over there)]

Waiter: 뭘 주문하시겠어요? (mwol chumunhashigessoyo) [What would you like to order?]

Here you have several options.

If you’re ordering something with numbers, you can say –

# 번 (하고 # 번) 주세요 (# bon hago # bon chuseyo) [Please give me number # and number #)

And the #’s – 일 (il/one), 이 (i/two), 삼 (sam/three), 사 (sah, four), 오 (oh, five), 육 (yu, six), 칠 (chil, seven), 팔 (pal, eight), 구 (ku, nine), 십 (ship, ten), 십일 (shibil, eleven), 십이 (shibi, twelve), 십삼 (shibsam, thirteen)….

And if you’re not ordering with numbers, just replace the # signs with the name of the food.

If you’re ordering BBQ, the way they sell meat is in the servings per person. So if you have four+ people, you’re supposed to order four+ servings, but some places you can get away with ordering two or three, if you’re lucky.

You: 불고기 사인분 주세요 (pulgogi sa in bun chuseyo) [Four servings of bulgogi, please]
불고기 is really popular, but you can replace it with 갈비(kalbi) or 삼겹살 (samgyopsal).

Three orders of meat: 삼인분 (sam in bun)
Five orders: 오인분(oh in bun)

[During the meal]
If you want more water – 여기 물 좀 더 주세요 (yoggi muul jom doh chuseyo)
If you want some hand wipes – 물수건 좀 주세요 (muul sugohn chuseyo)
If you want to order more food – (name of food) 하나 더 주세요 ( _____ hana doh chuseyo) 

[At the end of the meal]
If you want the bill – 계산서 주실래요? (kyesanso jushillaeyo?) 
OR 지금 계산할게요 (chigeum kyesan halkaeyo) [We’ll take the bill now]

If there’s anything I missed that you would like to know, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it! Again, if there are any mistakes, please let me know!

More like a life stump. I’ve started school again, and I don’t know if I’m glad I’m a bit more busy now or a bit annoyed I generally have less time to study Korean.

The weird thing is that there are actually a lot of Koreans in my school, but they always travel in packs, and I don’t have any classes with them (I’m a Media major, I mean, maybe I should just change my major again to Business or something =____=), so it’s awkward to try to make friends with them. – End pointless interjection –

I’ve more or less readjusted to life back at home, sad to say, a life removed from excitement and intrigue :( Another random rant – I’m planning on going to the SM Global Audition in two weeks at NYC, so if any of you guys reading right now are planning on going as well, please let me know so that we can meet up! It would be good to have mutual support ^^ Instead of singing, I’m actually considering doing a monologue…I’m going to be so nervous omg lol

Anyway, my main point in typing this post today is to talk about a source I think is kind of awesome for helping learn Korean. And the source of the day is – K-pop Lyric Videos! The ones I’m talking about are the ones with hangul, romanization, and English translation, like so:

This is the first k-pop song I ever loved, back when I first discovered k-pop in the summer of 2009. I was a hardcore E.LF, seriously. I had “It’s You” on repeat for forever. The lyrics are actually surprisingly easy, using relatively easy vocabulary and grammar. I can understand 95% of it without the English translation, which makes me almost proud of myself. If I had started learning Korean back when I first discovered k-pop, just think of how good my Korean would be now…oh well, no point dwelling in the past.

But this Youtube user is really amazing – I’m not sure if it’s a girl or guy but I will assume it’s a girl – all of her videos have really pretty and mellow backgrounds to accompany the songs, so the video isn’t distracting. I have all of her songs on my ‘Watch Later’ list, so I just have it on the background while it plays the whole list, so whenever I’m inspired to read the lyrics, I can. It makes learning Korean less daunting and more fun!

Time to end (almost) pointless rant of the day!

Last week, my new semester started, so I’ve been kind of busy. I still try to study a bit of Korean everyday, and I think I’m improving a bit, but it’s still hard trying to understand natural Korean dialogue. Yesterday I found this interview of Kevin from U-Kiss conducted in English and Korean, and it was a good exercise trying to understand his and the interviewer’s Korean, because both of their native tongues are English (so their Korean is a bit slower than native Korean speakers’). I still can’t understand everything, but I think and intermediate level Korean learner would be able to understand most of it. Means I still have a long way’s to go!

Tomorrow I’m going to a Korean Language Exchange meet up, so hopefully it will be good and I’ll be able to practice my Korean. I really haven’t been able to practice speaking Korean to people lately, since I no longer live in Korea. Lately, I’ve been speaking Korean to my dog when I walk him, because it feels better than talking to no one at all, but he doesn’t understand anyway, so I don’t feel inhibited from speaking Korean wrong.

Next week I’m finally starting my Korean language class! It’s not at my university; it’s at a separate institution, it’s 10 weeks, twice a week, and we’ll be working off the textbook Integrated Korean Beginner 2. I looked through the book a bit, and I know a bunch of it, but I think it will be good review to reinforce the grammar and vocabulary I’ve learned in the past couple of months. I’ll update you guys on how it goes ~

Hope your Korean learning is going well!

P.S. I’ve been spending most of my online time on Tumblr. If you have tumblr, follow me!

여러분 나는 지금 한국어 열심히 공부하고 있는지 알죠? 맨날 맨날 한국어 공부하는 게 노력해 본데 가끔씩 너무 피곤하거나 싫어서 안 해요. 그게 안 좋잖아, 근데 난 이미 진짜 열심히 공부하고 있어요. 이제 그만 영어로 쓸게요!

Woot, that was hard! As for a translation of my previous Korean (I don’t think all of it was grammatically correct, but anyway):

Everyone, you know how hard I’m studying Korean now, right? Everyday, I try to study Korean but sometimes I’m too tired or I don’t want to, so I don’t. This isn’t good, but I’m already working really hard. Now I’m going to write in English!

Haha wow that was really sad Korean-writing skills. I can’t really come up with anything better for now, but I’m going to write more Korean in my entries, so I can practice. If you spot the grammar mistakes, feel free to correct me (because otherwise I probably would never know!). I’m going to come up with a new topic every time I have a writing exercise in Korean now…perhaps you can give me some suggestions for topics!

Until next time :) Happy studying Korean!

…and not at all too happy about that fact. But I knew that as much as I wanted to stay in Korea forever, I had to come back to the States to finish up my Bachelor’s Degree…and to improve my Korean skills big time.

See, I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to move back to Korea after college, and in order to do that, I need to master the language. It sounds really daunting, and often I’m asking myself why I’m even doing this. I’m fluent two of the most commonly used languages in the world (English and Mandarin), and Korean is rarely used anywhere, except in Korea. But Korea has captured my heart and soul, and I know I would be really doing myself a disservice if I just pushed aside that aching urge to become fluent in Korean, move to Korea and marry a cute Korean guy.

To be honest, I would really love it right now if I just became Korean and didn’t have to go through the painstaking process of learning a totally new language from the ground-up, at my age (I’m 20! =___=). It may not seem old, but at this point, learning any new language requires a very serious amount of dedication, time commitment, and perseverance. I’m not like those other k-pop fangirls who say they’re “learning” Korean and are stuck at oppa and jjincha – I’m committing basically all my free time to it. I’m sorry if I’m sounding snobby right now, but this language-learning endeavor has become the #1 in my life. And as slow as I feel that my progress is, I know I’m improved so much since 5 months ago. I can even understand most of Talk to Me In Korean‘s Iyagi series (before the 40s)!

Right now I am using Seoul National University’s Level Two book, and it is definitely the best textbook I have used thus far. Korea University’s Korean textbooks are complete rubbish, and if you ever decide to study abroad in Korea to learn Korean, I highly recommend you go to Yonsei, Seoul, or Sogang instead. Because just learning from a textbook gets boring really quickly, I am reinforcing what I’m learning (grammar, vocab) by watching variety shows (better than dramas, because variety shows often have Korean subtitles or related commentary) and as always, listening to k-pop.

My love affair with everything Korea has not come to an end simply because I’m back in the States. I will continue to improve my Korean skills and I hope to make Korean friends here ^^ Until next time!

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!