Year: 2016

무용지물

Does anyone else experience this phenomenon of learning a new word or phrase and then immediately seeing it pop up everywhere? I recently bought a copy of 덕혜옹주: 조선의 마지막 황녀 (Princess Deokhye: The Last Joseon Princess) which, now I’m reading it, is actually so depressing I don’t even know why I bought it in the first place. But it’s a change from all the other… uh… historical romance novels I keep buying without restraint. Anyway, I was a few pages in when I first encountered the word 무용지물 in this context: 빗소리가 우산을 찢을 듯이 요란했다. 자정이 가까운 시각이었다. 서둘러 길을 건너야 한다. 여인은 휠체어 위로 우산을 받치며 걸음을 옮겼다. 그러나 사나운 빗줄기 앞에서는 우산도 무용지물이었다. And then when I pulled out my TOPIK book, I saw the word used in a sample exercise. The next day I read it in a news article. Chances are I’ve probably encountered the word several times and looked up its definition but I never truly learned it until just now. As with a lot of the words, idioms, 사자성어, etc. that I know, …

Clazziquai Project – #Curious

I’ve had Clazziquai’s new album Travellers on repeat since it came to Spotify (bless). I love the new single so much. The lyrics and instrumentals kind of remind me of Ra-on and Yeong’s early friendships/shenanigans – though that might just be because I’ve been thinking of Moonlight Drawn By Clouds too much these days! Heh. (Seriously though. If I made a Moonlight mixtape, this song would be on it.) Lyrics translation below! #궁금해 같이 먹을래 같이 걸을래 요즘 들어서 왠지 난 같이 하고 싶어 너의 사소한 일도 난 모두 궁금해 네가 없는 날은 너무 지루해 너와 함께라면 오늘도 특별한 하루 I keep sayin’ 여기도 특별한 장소 Don’t you know that 나 또한 특별한 사람 I gotta tell you, do you mind? Do you mind? Everybody knows 다시 말해줘 다시 말해줘 요즘 들어서 왠지 니가 좀 달라 보여 너의 사소한 일도 난 모두 궁금해 네가 없는 날은 너무 지루해 너와 함께라면 오늘도 특별한 하루 I keep sayin’ 여기도 특별한 장소 Don’t you know that 나 또한 특별한 사람 I gotta I tell you do you mind? Do you mind? Everybody knows …

All the feels for ‘Age of Youth’

Yay long weekend! I just finished a 6 hour binge of 청춘시대 (Age of Youth). The last 4 episodes were such a rollercoaster – I think I cried in every single one. Ha. Given that I generally don’t like “slice of life” type shows–and the fact that the last Korean drama I actually finished was 마을: 아치아라의 비밀 (The Village)–I’m kind of shocked at how much I enjoyed this one. The plot is pretty simple: Five young women in their twenties share a house together. We follow their trials and tribulations as they each navigate through their lives, and grow to cherish each other (and themselves). Each character has her own inner demons (almost literally) to face and overcome. This show isn’t flawless by any means. The idea isn’t original; the writing, frankly, isn’t superlative either. There were some odd genre-bending shenanigans going on, which made me wonder at certain points whether I was watching a makjang or a mystery thriller or a romcom? In retrospect, it’s probably because the nature of each character’s inner demon is so different that we …

すみません vs. すいません

So, I’m not crazy. I was re-watching きみはペット (incidentally, one of my favorite Japanese dramas) and I confirmed a long-standing suspicion. A lot of Japanese people pronounce すみません as すいません. For years I’ve thought my brain was somehow not computing the み sound correctly until I actually saw it spelled with い in a manga I was reading. The general consensus from all the language forums I’ve combed through seems to be that すいません is a colloquial and more casual way of pronouncing すみません. The latter is always used when you’re being exceptionally apologetic (as opposed to simply trying to catch someone’s attention) and/or speaking formally to superior. Probably because I don’t know the language that intimately, I’ve always assumed Japanese to be a really rigid language compared to Korean. There aren’t any complex pronunciation rules like in Korean, hiragana/katakana spelling is pretty much 100% phonetic, and verb conjugations are shockingly regular…. I guess that’s why this ‘mispronunciation’ surprised me so much. I am getting to the point in Japanese where I’m finally starting to pick up on colloquialisms and slang, which is kind of …

Q&A: New site name

Jeannie asked: Omg why did you change your URL? Astute readers of this blog might’ve noticed that my URL is no longer https://panjjakpanjjak.wordpress.com – gasp! Five years ago when I first created this blog on WordPress, I decided to go with my favorite Korean word (at the time) as its site name/URL. I was one year into learning Korean and was fascinated with mimetic adverbs (의성어/의태어 like 두근두근, 찰찰, 말랑말랑, 졸졸, etc.). For some reason, I really liked the word 반짝반짝; there was also the small matter of 반짝반짝 also being the title of an old Big Bang song that I liked. Heh. At the time, I didn’t really think about the URL from the perspective of the blog’s future readers. I didn’t consider whether the name/URL would difficult for people to remember or if people would have a hard time Googling the blog’s name in Korean or whether it would just be off-putting or unapproachable to have a non-English site name. Thinking about it now, I realized people can’t even really tell that this is a blog about language from just the URL. Despite the …

마녀보감 and the 3 episode test

I’ve recently gotten more impatient when it comes to TV shows. If you can’t hook me in the first 30 minutes, I’m out. My circle of drama-watching friends are a usually more forgiving, though. They do a “three episode test” for every TV show and anime they watch, meaning no matter how mediocre the first episode is, they’ll give the show at least 2 more episodes before deciding on whether to give it up or not. In the spirit of trying to rekindle an interest Korean dramas I decided to give 마녀보감 (Mirror of the Witch) the three episode test. …And, well, it’s caught my interest. Can we talk about how Kim Sae-ron is fifteen years old?! When did that happen? (Won Bin fans might remember her as his co-star in 아저씨–she was a tiny when that movie came out!). Also I haven’t seen Yoon Shi-yoon in anything since Unstoppable High Kick which was. ages. ago. God, I feel old. Anyway, let’s see if keep up with this one. I know sageuks aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but …

The most useful phrase to know in Korean (and any language)

Literal ‘did that just happen?!’ moment last week. A friend of mine reached out to me last week, saying a coworker of hers needed help placing an order for 떡 for her child’s 백일 from a Korean bakery in Santa Clara. I’m not sure what this person’s situation was–whether she was Korean(-American) or married to Korean(-American)–but I was more than a little baffled when my friend reached out to me. Turns out this particular bakery (for fellow South Bay residents it’s 이화당 떡집 – Ehwa Dang Rice Bakery down in Korea Town Santa Clara, if you’re curious) isn’t English-friendly. It seems that they don’t have any English-speaking employees at all, in fact, which I found astounding–but I guess that just shows you what an arrogant American I am. Heh. Anyway, said coworker’s dilemma was three-fold: her Korean wasn’t good enough to place a phone order with them, the owner’s Korean was too fast for her to understand, and her Korean relatives couldn’t help because they didn’t understand her English. So, I guess that’s where I came in. She emailed me a bunch of …

What I learned from taking TOPIK II without studying

I almost didn’t even show up for the exam. Aside from a couple hours of reviewing grammar back in January, I didn’t prepare for TOPIK at all. I didn’t even spend time looking over old tests. But, as painful as I knew it was going to be, I knew there was still value in just taking it, regardless of whether I do well or not. I paid for the exam, might as well try to learn something from the experience. So… it happened, and these are the things I know I should work on for October. Spend more time studying for the listening section. I consider listening one of my strengths in Korean, but this section made me realize I need to diversify the topics I listen to. (Granted even our test proctor said she found some of the dialogues difficult to understand!) Listening to the news more would definitely help, for example. I need to make a serious, focused effort to study for the listening section. I have a lot more resources for studying grammar and vocabulary, …

볼장 다 보다

Sometimes there’s nothing harder than being honest with yourself. As much as it pains me to say it, looking back on the past couple years or so, I’ve noticed my… 욕심..? for Korean deteriorating. I’m frustrated by my lack of improvement. I’m at a level where improvement doesn’t come in leaps and bounds anymore; it comes from dedicated, daily study, which I don’t make an effort to do. Korean dramas don’t hold my interest as they used to, I barely listen to Korean music or podcasts, and I can’t focus long enough to start and finish a novel in a decent period of time either. Leaving Seoul after my first trip there, back in 2014, was far more depressing than I thought it would be. Immersing myself in the language was so effortless there… then coming back to the U.S. where I had to make an active effort to immerse myself everyday… Bleh. So in an effort to stop whining and being lazy, I thought I’d kick myself into high-gear and sign up for TOPIK. The good news is, this year I actually …