Korean reality shows

As if being hooked to Korean dramas wasn’t bad enough, lately I’ve also found myself addicted to Korean reality-variety shows.   SIGH.  It all started with watching CNBLUE’s Jung Yonghwa and SNSD’s Seohyun on 우리 결혼했어요 (We Got Married).  I didn’t expect to be hooked but, well, I was barely one episode in and the damage was already done.  And now that one of my good friends has turned me into a legit SHINee fangirl, I’ve watched SHINee’s mini reality show 샤이니의 연하남, back from the time of their debut, and now I’m watching SHINee’s Hello Baby.

Aside from being just plain entertaining, I find that Korean reality shows also help me learn Korean better than dramas!  This is because of the existence of WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS KOREAN CAPTIONS.  Most of the shows I’ve watched tend to have captions that either match what someone’s saying word-for-word or that summarize whatever is going on in a particular situation.  In addition, there are other words or word bubbles that pop up on screen (I’m sure there’s an official word for this) around a person, usually describing their feelings or mood – words like 민망, 고민, 걱정, etc.  Captions and word bubbles make it so incredibly easy to look up words and build vocabulary faster.  And you may even find that you don’t rely on the English subtitles as much.

I’ve realized that with dramas, I’m at that awkward stage where I understand enough Korean to be sufficiently distracted by English subtitles (they’re actually really messing with my mind) but not good enough to follow what’s going on without them.  But when I watch Korean reality shows or interviews, the Korean captions have eliminated my dependence on English subtitles.  I first noticed this when I watched 불후의 명곡2 (Immortal Song 2) without subtitles a few days ago.  I guess my listening comprehension is actually better than I thought it would be because I found that most the time I could understand what was being spoken before I had time to read the captions.  But when I couldn’t understand what was going on, I just paused the video, read the caption, and looked up a few words here and there.  It was amazing!!

I really want to watch more Korean variety and/or reality shows so if you know any good ones, please recommend them!

귀여운 노래!^^

I’ve never watched 우리 결혼했어요, but I remember I found out about the 용서 couple’s “반말송” (“Banmal Song”) through allkpop.  So when CN Blue’s Jung Yonghwa released a digital version of the song retitled “처음 사랑하는 연인들을 위해” (“For First-time Lovers”) earlier this year, I was curious to hear it because 반말송 was so popular.  It’s really one of the most adorable songs I have ever heard.

(Source:  GirlsGenerationSM)

What I love about this song is that it is so distinctly Korean.  It’s about something that you can’t really understand unless you know a little about Korean culture and it’s about something I love watching in a Korean drama – progression of a relationship in parallel with changes in speech levels.  How do you gauge when to start speaking “comfortably” to a person you’ve met?  When can you switch from 존댓말 to 반말?  What’s even more interesting (what this song is about) is how to speak to a person who’s just become your lover – how do you get over the awkwardness and the shyness, not only in feeling but also in speech?  Although most languages do have a “polite” speech and a “casual” speech, an issue like this is more significant in Korean because there are about seven distinct speech levels (excluding mixing the different types of speech).  And it’s something that English speakers can’t really understand.  I’m glad I’m at a level in Korean where I can understand both the meaning and cultural significance of a song like this.


Ahem.  Anyway.  Although it is not impossible to translate a song like this into English (the person who uploaded this video did a pretty good job), it’s best left untranslated because so much meaning is lost if you do. Besides, how on earth can you accurately translate a line like “우리 서로 반말하는 사이가 되기를” anyway? The thought makes me shudder. :)