Year: 2014

2014: A Year of Change

Stuff happened in 2014. So.  Much.  Stuff. When I think about growing up and taking on responsibilities and such, I think this is the year that I really threw myself into the ocean of adulthood and taught myself how to swim.  It wasn’t easy.  I’m fairly sure that I cried more this year than I ever have in my recent past and was almost continuously sick because of stress.  Nevertheless, 2014 is a year that I will look back on fondly in the future.  These were the highlights of my year.

꿀잠을 자다

On the unofficial list of nerdier things I love in life, I have to say that idioms rank pretty high.  I like discovering Korean idioms through reading them in context but, just as in English, the disconnect between the literal and figurative meaning often makes me scratch my head confusion.  Many of them prove challenging to learn and retain, but once in a rare while I come across one that makes me go, “Aha, I totally get this!” That’s exactly how I felt when I stumbled upon this particular idiomatic expression. 꿀잠을 자다. You know that overbearing feeling of doom and stress that you get during midterms or final exam week?  During which you study for hours upon hours and then take back-to-back exams for two straight weeks?  More important, you know that feeling after your last exam?  That’s when the pure adrenaline you’re running on comes to a crashing stop and wave upon wave of fatigue from all those lost hours of sleep washes over you and your eyelids feel so heavy that they feel like they’re made of lead. (…Yeah, the last time I …

How Language Makes Me Feel

비는 비.  낮은 낮.  여름은 여름….  살면서 많은 말을 배웠다.  자주 쓰는 말이 있고 그렇지 않은 것이 있었다.  지상에 뿌리내린 것이 있고 식물의 종자처럼 가볍게 퍼져가는 말이 있었다.  여름을 여름이라 할 때, 나는 그것을 가질 수 있을 것 같았다.  그럴 수 있다 믿어 자꾸 물었다.  땅이라니, 나무라니, 게다가 당신이라니…. 입속 바람을 따라 겹치고 흔들리는 이것, 저것, 그것.  내가 ‘그것’ 하고 발음하면 ‘그것….’ 하고 퍼지는 동심원의 너비.  가끔은 그게 내 세계의 크기처럼 느껴졌다. The first couple pages of 두근두근 내 인생 (yes I’m reading that now) absolutely struck me dumb. Never have I read a more accurate depiction of how I feel about language – particularly Korean.  I always whine about how it’s so hard to learn new words and really have them stick in your long-term memory.  But the fact of the matter is, when it does happen, it’s such an astounding feeling.  When you really truly know word – when not only know its definitions but also its subtle nuances, its color, the intangible quality it gives the sentence it’s a part of – that’s a special feeling that …

Q&A: Being Indian in Korea

Janhavi asked:  I will be studying abroad in Korea next spring. I was wondering if you could tell me about your experience as an Indian in Korea, since I will be in the same position once I get there. Thank you so much! First off, hi Janhavi and thanks for the question and comment!  I’ve been meaning to write more about my trip to Korea but (as always) am distracted by a million other things I want to write about first.  That actually struck me as something interesting about myself: As much as I LOVED my trip, I can really, truly love Korean on just a pure intellectual level.  I don’t crave the need to be surrounded by it to really enjoy it. Anyway, I digress!  You brought up a valid question and it’s my pleasure to answer, but with the requisite caveats!  These are some things to keep in mind before you read too deeply into my answer: I only visited Seoul. I stayed only for 10 days. I didn’t get to visit all the different …

한글날 축하합니다!

I’m going to cheat and set this post as published on October 9, 2014 (even though it’s really October 13 here shhhh) because that day was Hangeul Day! I have so much admiration for King Sejong.  He took the problem of illiteracy into his own royal, ink-stained hands and literally created a whole new alphabet so his subjects would be educated.  Are our nations’ leaders even half as proactive these days?  I think not. So what exactly is Hangeul Day? October 9, 1446 is the purported date of the publication of 訓民正音 [훈민정음].  Considered one of UNESCO’s World Heritage records, 훈민정음 is the official document detailing King Sejong’s new script and the reasons behind its creation. What does the title mean?  Once again the Hanja tells you the entire story. 訓 [가르칠 훈] = to teach 民 [백성 민] = commoners 正 [바를 정] = pronunciation 音 [소리 음] = sound Put that all together and in English you get something like “Instruction on Pronunciation for the Common People.” Hangeul as we know it and use it today has 24 자모 or characters (14 consonants and …

Intro: South Korea 2014

Korea?  Korea! Yes, at long last, Korea happened for me at the beginning of September this year.  I spent 10 days in Seoul and had a marvelous time as I expected I would.  Aside from the excitement of finally getting to go to Korea after all these years of studying Korean, this was an extra special trip because it was the first purely recreational, international trip that I budgeted for and planned on my own.  Whee! So why now?  Why this time, this year?  I didn’t make it explicitly obvious in my posts on this blog, but the main reason is I knew I was going to be at a crossroads at this time in my life. When I bought my ticket in May for my trip in September, I knew that one of two things would have happened by that time – 1) I would have planned out a brand new PhD project after deciding to discontinue my old one or 2) I would have decided to graduate with my master’s degree and started …

병주고 약 준다

I don’t know how to feel about 괜찮아, 사랑이야.  The music directing is awful, its portrayal of psychiatric patients is at times cliched and insensitive, the writing makes me cringe, and the camerawork is just whack.  On the other hand, Gong Hyo-jin and Jo In-sung.  Swoon.  That was enough of a plus that I marathoned the first six episodes in 1.5 days.  Things are getting just interesting enough that I may actually continue with the show for a while longer. Anyway, there is particular scene at the end of episode two that reminded me of an idiom that my language partner taught me last year; I’ve wanted to make a post about it since and hearing it again in this drama prompted me to finally do so.  In this particular scene, mystery-horror novelist Jung Jae-yeol accidentally (and very tactlessly) revealed that his housemate – psychiatrist Ji Hae-soo – was being cheated on by her boyfriend.  After several days of bearing the brunt of Hae-soo’s cold shoulder, he finally tries to reconcile the relationship by offering her a late-night glass of red wine. (image source) …

Interview with Lee Jin-wook and Jo Yoon-hee (Marie Claire)

I consider 나인: 아홉 번의 시간 여행 (Nine: Nine Time Travels) to be the Korean drama to end all Korean dramas for me.  In a good way.  It’s not my all-time favorite drama, but it hit me in a way that no K-drama since has been able to.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve managed to finish a single Korean drama since watching Nine – as if I’ve been cursed by the magical Himalayan incense myself!  About a year ago, there was news that Nine would be remade for an American audience which made me simultaneously roll my eyes and perk up my ears.  If it ever came into fruition, I love the story line and the questions it raises enough to consider watching it.  Cautiously. Anyway, this is an old piece came that out in the April 2013 edition of Marie Claire Korea, right when Nine had started to air that I translated on a whim last night.  If you’re looking for something mind-bending, thrilling, heartbreaking, and suspenseful all at once, I highly recommend Nine – just sit tight …

악동뮤지션 (AKMU) – 안녕

Let me tell you a story about myself.  When I was growing up, I moved a lot.  By the time I graduated high school, I had lived in five different states and changed schools just as many times.  When I got older, the moves got much harder.  At one point, I remember making the mental decision to just not make friends – what was the point if I was just going to move away after a couple years? I moved to North Carolina in the middle of seventh grade and, day after day, I remember vividly eating lunch alone at one end of a lunch table in the corner of the cafeteria.  There was a group of girls who sat a little bit further down from me that I recognized from some of my classes.  I would glance at occasionally because they seemed friendly but I didn’t approach them or say anything for weeks.  And then one day, a girl from that group approached me and said, “Do you want to sit with us?”  And I did. …

소자 vs. 소신

The good thing about having so many Korean novels is when I get bored/frustrated with one, I can always move onto another.  I’m pretty sure that at the moment I have a bookmark in every single one I own – but I’m close!  So close!  This close to finishing 우리들의 행복한 시간…. and I started reading 해를 품은 달 again (Note: The novels are fun but I do not recommend the drama.)  It’s sad but also amusing that I was reading these two books at the same time way back in 2012 as well.  Amazing how time zips by. I’m not going to be critical about the fact that I haven’t improved much in Korean over the past couple years because I know I was struggling with bigger issues than just trying to get over a learning slump.  Only in the past few months have I made a real return to reading and listening to Korean on a daily basis again.  And I’m so, so happy to say that it brings me just as much joy now as it did …