Archive | December 2012

Failing TOPIK 중급 ^_^

429477_10151172385626818_731242903_nThis post has been sitting on my drafts for quite some time now. XD

So. There. 불합격.

But who cares? ^_^

Of course I wanted to do well, but I know right from the start 중급 is still beyond my level (especially after the exam! OTL). I’m actually surprised (and happy!) with my score, especially on the 어휘및문법 part (I passed Level 3 and maybe if I got 2 or 3 more correct answers my 어휘및문법 would be at Level 4! 신기하다!). And at least now I know how weak I still am on 읽기, 듣기 and 쓰기. I’m actually proud of my 쓰기 score even if it’s a failing score (I was expecting it to be lower). And my 읽기 score is exactly how I expected it to be. OTL.

It’s so obvious that I only reviewed 어휘및문법 and didn’t practice the rest. ㅋㅋㅋ

At first I wanted to try again for April. Aim for a Level 3 perhaps, then a Level 4 on October. But I don’t want to push it. Got loads of stuff on my hand for the next 3 months and I don’t want to lose focus. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop reviewing/preparing for it for the meantime. I just don’t want to add more pressure on myself when I’m already this stressed. So I will take the October one instead and aim for a level 4!

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 97,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

[Book] You Shouldn’t Have To Say Goodbye – Finding an old paperback novel

I’ve been a library geek since I started elementary school, thanks to our school librarian who encouraged me to keep reading.

Our grade school librarian is someone who many kids fear (and make fun of when she’s not around). She is your ‘typical’ strict-looking librarian. But that didn’t stop me from frequenting our school library since I moved to my new school in first grade. I just can’t contain my happiness with the big collection of pretty books with colorful illustrations. I vowed to read everything there is on the shelves! So from the day I learned how to borrow books, I kept borrowing children books one after the other.

Maybe our librarian was amused with the 7-year old me who frequents her library that is almost always empty (I guess I was the only one with a used borrower’s card (and I even need to have a second and third card in some years), not just among the first graders but probably among the elementary school kids). So she, without batting an eyelid, told me to stop borrowing the colorfully illustrated children books and lead me to the dusty young adult fiction section. She told me I’m ‘too old’ and ‘too good’ to be reading kiddie stuff.

I was scared with the books at first. They look scary. They were full of small text, have hundred pages, and the only illustrations were the cover (and I’m lucky if I come across books with one or two illustrations inside). But the gullible me followed our librarian’s ‘order’ and before I knew it I’ve become more addicted to reading books. I also owe my English skills to our librarian! I don’t think I’ll ever be fluent in English if not for her.

Anyway, amidst the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Sweet Valleys and the numerous Apple Paperbacks that I’ve laid my hands on, there’s one special paperback I’ve fallen in love with. I remember crying so hard while and after reading it. And I remember I borrowed it over and over and over. I have thought of having it copied before graduation (because I will be transferring to another school in High School), but as expected of me, I failed to do so. I remember remembering the title of the book, but as I grow older I eventually forgot it. But I didn’t forget that there’s this special book and still hoping that maybe one day I’ll get to find it again.

The only thing I remember about it now is that the mother of the main character died of cancer and that it was an Apple paperback and the cover has a sad picture of the mother and the main character sitting. And the color of the paperback is purplish pink. That’s all I can remember. So I actually don’t have that much hope anymore in finding it. Ever.

But while doing my part time job tonight, the book just crossed my mind and I tried my luck and google ‘young adult novel mother died cancer’ and low and behold I found THIS link. And I was surprise someone else also have the same quest of finding the book and, yes, I now remember the main character with her friend eat sandwiches her mom made on the roof. And luckily someone has answered her query too! YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO SAY GOODBYE! Yes! Yes! YES! That’s the title! That’s the book! By Patricia Hermes. Yes! That’s right! That’s the name of the author (I now remember I did a book review of this for one of my English classes then, that’s why even the name of the author rings a bell now!)!

And here’s the original cover (awww!)



(I later learned after googling some more that it was reprinted and re-issued last 2008 with a different and newer cover).

The internet is truly amazing! It only took me less than 5 minutes to find something that I’ve been wondering about for almost two decades now!

Next goal, to get hold of this book once again. I want to read it again (will I still cry as much as I did when I was 10?) and want my young friends to get to read this too. 🙂

Learning Japanese through Korean

I’m actually glad that Japanese is very similar to Korean. I seldom get confused on what particles and sentence endings to use (unlike some of my classmates). I just need time to get more familiar and comfortable with them as I go along.

I’m also glad to find some cheatsheets like THIS. So when the English explanation in the textbook baffles me, I just Ctrl+F through that document and check the Korean equivalent and everything clears up.

I also listen to NHK’s podcast lessons in Korean and it makes me feel better because I can learn Japanese at the same time test my Korean comprehension.

Learning languages is fun (Japanese verb conjugations aside lol)! 🙂

I also found Korean subtitles for my new Japanese drama, Rebound. Happy me! 🙂



I’m the odd ball in our Intermediate Japanese class. Though I “passed” my beginner Japanese class, I consider myself as a beginner. Can you just imagine how I feel sitting among intermediate learners and still can’t read anything Japanese on our first week? I also ALWAYS have mistakes when answering class recitation – a big proof that I do not understand a thing. I even greeted everyone with おはよう ございます during a group presentation despite the blazing heat of the afternoon sun (because I thought it works the same way as 안녕하세요 OTL). I nudge my seatmate for correct answers when there’s a class recitation. I leave my quizzes blanks. And can’t even check my seatmate’s quizzes properly.

I was like that for the past 4 weeks. I dread our class not because I hate it, but because I feel so stressed.

But now I’m excited to go to class because I have prepared well. I may not still know a lot of things, and may still fail my quizzes ㅠㅠ but I think I will not be so lost anymore now that I can read Hiragana (at least) and have learned all the grammar points we have discussed, we are discussing, and will be discussing.

I feel more confident now that I have gone over our entire textbook.

In our class, we have quizzes everyday and we have what we call a “5-quiz Combo”. We can get extra points if we get perfect scores for five consecutive quizzes. At first I thought, “Never mind! That is something impossible for me to achieve”. But now I’m actually up for the challenge :)! I’ll try my best to get at least one “quiz combo”. 頑張る!

My Urarachan, Aibu Saki


Heh! I never thought I’ll actually like a Japanese actor! Was it because my crush said she’s cute that’s why I like her? Nah! Haha. (Maybe we really just have the same taste XD). It’s just that her character in Kaseifu no Mita is so cute and bubbly. And she is so gorgeous yet still cheerful and bubbly in Rich Man Poor Woman. But she will always be Urara-chan to me. 🙂

It’s also awesome that the friend of one of my students is friends with her!  すごい! Haha!

I guess I found my next drama to watch – Aibu Saki’s Rebound!

Cramming Japanese

My right hand (and arm) still hurts as I type this. I’ve spent 3 days poring over my Japanese textbooks and taking down notes. I’ve finished 15 chapters!

It’s actually my fault, to begin with. Because I did not study when I was taking the beginner class, so I have to start from square one. We are currently on Chapter 9~10 of Genki but I decided to continue reading until Chapter 15 – the last chapter we will cover until the end of the semester. That way, I can focus more on my thesis later on.

I just focused on grammar lessons, so I still lack so much vocabulary and I still have to memorize learn about a thousand and a half words. But despite lacking vocabs, I did learn a lot these past 3 days.

And finally Japanese language has started taking form. When I was watching Anego, I still find Japanese language gibberish. I tried to listen well, but I only ended up catching as many Korean sounding words I can XD. With Kaisefu no Mita I started picking up expressions, especially from Mita しつれいします,  しょうちしました, それは。。。うみとさんがきめることです, あります. But since I started reading my textbook and taking down notes when I started Rich Man Poor Woman, I started recognizing sentence endings while watching that drama. I re-watched re-listened to Rich Man Poor Woman as I continue reading and not only was I able to recognize the sentence endings, but I can also recognize word boundaries now! And as my mom starts watching Kaseifu no Mita I watch with her and I can even now play my guess-what-the-character-is-about-to-say-next game (even if it’s just 分かりました, あります, ありません, 別に, ただいま, 好きです).

Seems like my cramming for Japanese is starting to pay off. I still need to learn Katakana and 200 Kanjis, but 3 straight days of writing down notes made me more comfortable in “mind”-reading (I’m still very slow when it comes to reading out loud) and writing Hiragana. I never thought I’ll have this much fun in learning Japanese. So it seems like it’s the effort and time that I really needed to jumpstart my Japanese learning. Though it’s not as fun and as comfortable as learning Korean (and perhaps will never be XD), learning Japanese is not too bad after all. I still need to exert more efforts though. 頑張る.

Liking Japanese Dramas

The only Japanese dramas I’ve seen before were 14 Year Old MotherNodame Cantabile and Power of LoveAlthough those three were good ones, they didn’t leave as much impact to me as Korean dramas that’s why I stopped watching Japanese dramas ages ago.

Of course I admit I have my huge bias towards Korean dramas. If you’ll let me chose between a really good Japanese drama and a mediocre a bad Korean drama, I would definitely pick up the Korean one without batting an eyelid. Maybe because after years and years of watching Korean dramas I feel “at home” with them. Korean dramas are oozing with Korean culture and language that I am comfortable with that it doesn’t matter whether the story is good or annoying, heartwarming or frustrating, I can still stand 16, 20, 24, 30 hours with it. After all I find every dialogue uttered in a Korean drama a learning opportunity for me (of course it doesn’t stop me being frustrated or disappointed, but my point is I’ll still watch them at any given time ^^).

Japanese dramas on the other hand screams “foreign” to me. It’s not only that I’m not ‘assimilated’ with the culture, I also have very little to no knowledge about it thus a lot of stuff feels either weird or awkward or strange. And when I start to get bored, I can’t play my usual catch-as-many-words-and-grammar-pattern-you-can-recognize or guess-what-the-character-will-say-next games because everything sounds gibberish to me.

But finding myself sooo lost while sitting in an intermediate Japanese class this semester, I decided I must exert a lot of effort if I want to survive this semester.

My main struggle is getting the “feel” of the language. All the lessons on our textbooks and classes and the hundreds of vocabulary words we need to memorize just won’t sink in. They just doesn’t make sense to me. So I ended up just being frustrated with all the conjugations and sentence endings and conjunctions; all the ru-verbs, u-verbs, te-forms, short-forms and long-forms. Everything feels like learning and memorizing random codes. And it makes me close my books and not study because I know no matter how much time I devote in studying will be futile.

And I know I can’t stay that way if I want to pass my Japanese class (and graduate). So I made an effort in exposing myself to Japanese. And what’s the best way to do it  than by watching Japanese dramas? After all I’m not a big manga and anime enthusiast. And maybe… just maybe, it’ll spark my interest in Japanese language just like how Kim Sun Ah and Korean dramas did.

What to watch then? That was my next problem. It’s a make or break decision for me XD. If I made a mistake in selecting something that I will not enjoy or appreciate, then that’s the end of it. But if I’ll make the right choice, it might “unlock my heart” and finally see Japanese language in a different light.

At first I only wanted to watch My Name Is Kim Sam Soon dubbed in Japanese. But it’ll take time for me to receive a copy. So I asked some friends for drama recommendation. My ‘drama requirements’ were so specific it’s almost funny. The main character must be this and that. The guy must be like this. The story should be about this. No this. No that. And I’m glad a good friend and fellow Kim Sun Ah fan recommended Anego.

★ ANEGO アネゴ


I’m really grateful someone recommended this to me. And I’m glad that I picked this up first. It fits my ‘drama style’ perfectly. A 30-something single woman – successful in her career, looking for ‘the one’, wanting to be loved. Marriage. Unrequited love. Love affair. First person narrations. A whole smorgasbord of the many elements I enjoy in a drama (the nay-december love story – not so =.=)..

Well, the smorgasbord thing could very well be the dramas’ weakness. There are just too many things this drama wants to say in less than 10 hours. And because of that I also sometimes can’t comprehend what Anego really wants and it annoys me. But I think that’s what I liked about it too. The way Anego struggles with every confusing thing that is going on in her life.

For the first time, I was able to relate and empathize with a Japanese drama character! I was so engrossed with Anego’s life and lovelife that the loopholes in the story didn’t bother me anymore. I just want to know how she feels and what she’s going to do and what choices will she make.

Gah! This drama even made me cry many times!

Anego is a drama that I can watch over and over. Yes, fortunately, it did “unlock my heart”.




THE drama that a lot were raving about. I’ve heard about this from a couple of my Japanese students last year and have made a mental note to watch it, but I never did.

I immediately wanted to watch another Japanese drama after Anego because I don’t want to break the momentum. But my heart is still too weak for another love story after all the heartaches in Anego. So I thought it’s the perfect time to watch Kaseifu no Mita

The drama was so engaging right from episode 1. I am no longer surprised why its ratings was so high. I loved everyone in this drama. From Mita to Kii to Urara. And even if this is not a romance drama, there’s still a little bit of an unrequited love in the persona of Urara.

Mita. I love her character so much. Yes, there are bunch of loopholes as well, but I couldn’t care less. I want to have a kaseifu like Mita!

It’s a really good family drama and I also found myself crying on some scenes. I  also have a lot of favorite lines from this drama. And I suffered from an intense withdrawal after the final episode. I miss Mita and the entire family. 😦


★ RICH MAN POOR WOMAN リッチマン、プアウーマン


Again, not wanting to kill the momentum, I picked the next one on my list. Rich Man Poor Woman reminds me so much of The Social Network. But I like the drama way better.

Though this drama may not be something that I will watch over and over, it was good while it lasted. I can’t even stop watching it even if it’s already 4:00am and I have a morning class.

I also love seeing dear Urara (Aibu Saki) in this drama again. And I actually love her character, Yoko, more than Natsui. Natsui is cute and fine, but somehow I think Hyuga and Yoko are also a good pair. Reminds me so much on how I root for Dr. Jo Eun Seong and Hwang Ji Ahn in I Do I Do. Why oh why do writers create such fine third wheels? Urgh! It seems like my second-lead syndrome extends to Japanese dramas O.o! But I can’t help it! Yoko is really really cool and pretty! And I think I’m liking Aibu Saki now! 🙂



And then there was Dramanote! THE awesome Dramanote! I’m so in love with it as much as Shanna.

At first I was put off because I definitely cannot navigate it with my (still) poor reading skills in Japanese. But I remember I used to be like that in Korean too and I somehow managed. So I just google translate/google search things to survive and found my way on the scripts of the Japanese dramas I learned to love!

I’m really glad I came across that website from Hangukdrama. 🙂


I am not watching a Japanese drama right now but I’m clipping Yoko’s scenes in Rich Man Poor Woman so that I can watch her over and over. Mom’s watching Kaseifu no Mita therefore I can hear also catch a glimpse of it every night. Planning to rewatch Anego and compile all of Anego’s narrations (and turn it into my final project for my Japanese class perhaps). And waiting for my My Name Is Kim Sam Soon DVD dubbed in Japanese and watch it right away (yey! So excited!). I am also currently downloading Aibu Saki’s Rebound リバウンド and it looks like I’m gonna like it. It’s Saki after all. 🙂

Any other Japanese drama recommendations? ^_^

[ANNOUNCEMENT] Call for Christmas Messages for Kim Sun Ah

Hello, everyone!

As we know Kim Sun Ah will be visiting Japan soon for a Christmas Party with her Japanese fans (Fan Meeting).

image (13)
In line with this, we would like to collect your Christmas greetings for Kim Sun Ah. If you have a Christmas message for her, write a comment below with the following:

  • Your message (any language but preferably translated to either Korean, Japanese, English or Chinese so that Kim Sun Ah can understand it)
  • Your name/ nickname
  • Country where you are from

All collected message will be printed by the Japanese fans in a book and will give to Kim Sun Ah in person (just like last time).

DEADLINE: 10 December 2012 (Monday) 11:59pm Seoul Time

If you are uncomfortable leaving a comment here, you can also email me your messages at

Feel free to let your other friends know. Thanks!

Goals and Motivation in Learning Japanese

Thinking about goals and motivation in learning Japanese is not as easy as thinking about my goals and motivation in learning Korean. Especially because there was no goal and no motivation to begin with.

At first I just wanted to pass my intermediate class. Doesn’t matter if I’ll just get the lowest possible grade. I just want to pass the subject to graduate. No more, no less.

But as I’m slowly enjoying the process of learning Japanese, my Japanese learning journey may go beyond the classroom.

It would be nice to get to understand Japanese dramas. Talk to Japanese with my Japanese friends. Understand Kim Sun Ah‘s fan meetings in Japan (and attend one sometime in the future?). Read the book Kim Sun Ah wrote in Japanese? Talk to Kim Sun Ah in Japanese?

Why did I not realize that the person I admire the most and my main source of inspiration and motivation in studying Korean is also very well connected with Japanese? I often fret that I never appreciate learning Japanese because I never really liked any Japanese dramas and will never understand why a lot of people enjoy mangas and animes. But I actually don’t have to look very far to find enjoyment in learning Japanese. As soon as I finish studying my Japanese grammar lessons, I’ll be watching all of Kim Sun Ah’s video clips in Japanese including her fan meeting early this year. I’m so excited to catch as many words, expressions and grammar patterns that I can.

I’m still not sure what I want to achieve in learning Japanese, or if there’s any. I’m just enjoying this for now and I might continue learning it even after the semester is over.