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Korean words I accidentally use when talking to friends

Inspired by korean words I accidentally use when talking to friends ㅋㅋ post of hanmiso. ^^

Just like hanmiso, I’m prone to using Korean expressions when I’m with friends, classmates or my co-workers especially these days because I just got back from Korea. It was even mentioned to me by one office mate a few days ago. She asked me if I’ve ever accidentally used Korean expressions when talking to our American clients. Luckily, I haven’t. However when with friends, or sometimes even strangers, Korean expressions would simply come out of my mouth accidentally.

Here’s my list for now:

뭐야?

헐!

참!

아~ 진짜!

아냐

안돼

괜찮아 / 아냐, 괜찮아

이씨~

야!

어떡해???

몰라 / 아 몰라

말도 안돼!

왜요?

갑자기야!

어머!

엄마야!

어디 보자?

가자! / 갑시다!

미치겠다! / 미치겠다 정말

자쯩나! / 짱나!

좋아 / 좋았

됐어

맛있겠다

안되겠다

아싸!

How about you? What’s on your list?

Analyzing a Korean Sentence Linguistically

One of the many long sentences I encountered while reading My Name Is Kim Sam Soon novel is this:

오늘따라 강하게 나오는 딸의 반발에 엄마는 눈에 힘을 주며 밥주걱을 들고 있던 오른손을 치켜드신다.

Again, even if I understood almost every word perfectly the problem of who did what, who did what, who did what to whom, what was done by whom clouded my mind.

Eventually, using my DIY-aka-pseudo-linguistic method again, I was able to figure out who’s who and what’s what. But a user, bonbon2023, from WordReference was able to explain the sentence awesomely in a linguistic way and I’d like to share it with you guys – especially to those who are also studying / are interested in linguistics.

For lexical explanation오늘따라 강하게 나오는 딸의 반발에 엄마는 눈에 힘을 주며 밥주걱을 들고 있던 오른손을 치켜드신다.(Mom raises her right hand, which have held rice spatula, with glaring eyes seeing daughter defiant today for some reason.) In this context, though different wording, 눈에 힘을 주다 can be otherwise expressed as 눈을 부릅뜨다 or 눈을 번뜩이다. ‘오늘따라’ means ‘왠일인지 오늘, which is today for some reason, and ‘따라’ signifies there’s no specific reason.’강하게 나오는 딸의 반발에’ suggests ‘Daughter is being defiant’

For grammar explanation, this is how I analyze the sentence by morphology or syntax.
Basically when we analyze sentences in morphology, we usually reveal the nine parts of speech in the sentence.
오늘(noun, 명사)/따라(particle 조사)/ 강하게(adjective, 형용사)/ 나오는(verb, 동사)/ 딸(noun, 명사)/의(particle, 조사)/반발(noun, 명사)에(particle, 조사)/ 엄마(noun, 명사)/는(particle, 조사)/ 눈(noun, 명사)/에(particle, 조사)/ 힘(noun, 명사)/을(particle, 조사)/ 주며(verb, 동사)/ 밥주걱(noun, 명사)/을(particle, 조사)/ 들고(verb, 동사)/ 있던(verb, 동사)/ 오른손(noun, 명사)/을(particle, 조사)/ 치켜드신다(verb, 동사).

The above is based on nine parts of speech. If I go further, ‘따라, 는’ is ‘focus particle or delimiter'(보조사), ‘의’ is 관형격조사, ‘에’ is adverbial case particle(부사격조사), , ‘을’ is objective case particle(목적격조사) in your sentence. And when it comes to word-building ‘치켜드시다’ is the complex verb(합성동사), which ‘치키다’ and ‘드시다’ are mixed by the ending ‘-어’ attaching to the stem ‘치키-‘.

Given the sentence in terms of inflection(활용), which refers to change in form of verb or adjective, ‘주며’ ‘
들고’, ‘있던’, ‘나오는’, ‘치켜드신다’ are considered.
The ending -며 in 주며 is coordinate conjunctive ending(대등적연결어미) because it links the preceding clause and following clause on grammatically equal terms.
-고 in 들고 is supplementary conjunctive ending(보조적연결어미) since it enables 있던 to modify ‘들고’, thereby adds progressive meaning in the chunk. ‘-ㄴ’ in 있던 and ‘-는’ in 나오는 are 관형사형어미 so 있던, 나오는 modify noun ‘오른손’, ‘딸’ respectively. -ㄴ다 in 치켜드신다 is closing ending(종결어미).

On the other hand in syntax, there are seven parts of sentence 부사어, 관형어, subject(주어), object(목적어), 서술어, complement(보어), 독립어 when basically analyzing the sentence.
Thus the compound sentence is analysed as:
오늘따라 강하게 나오는 딸의(관형어) 반발에(부사어)/ 엄마는(subject)/ 눈에(부사어) 힘을(object) 주며(서술어)/ 밥주걱을 들고 있던(관형어)/ 오른손을(object)/ 치켜드신다(서술어).
The subject ‘엄마는’ is the third person singular. 부사어, 관형어 are additional constituents when it comes to constituents of sentences, thus the sentence can make sense even after omitting them like the following> “엄마는 힘을 주며 오른손을 치켜드신다.” This is main sentence.

The type of compound sentence is extended sentence(이어진문장) since ‘엄마는 눈에 힘을 주며’ and ‘밥주걱을 들고 있던 오른손을 치켜드신다’ are coordinate clauses(대등절) linked by ‘-며’.
Consider the following:
오늘따라 강하게 나오는 딸의(관형구) 반발에(adverbial phrase)/ 엄마는 눈에 힘을 주며(coordinate clause)/ 밥주걱을 들고 있던(관형구)/ 오른손을 치켜드신다(coordinate clause). 
‘오늘 따라 강하게 나오는 딸의'(관형구) performs as the 관형어
 that modifies noun 반발 in adverbial phrase(부사구). 밥주걱을 들고 있던 modifies noun 오른손. 
When we look at ‘치켜드신다’. 
The ‘-시-‘ prefinal ending shows the respect to the agent ‘엄마’ and there’s ‘-ㄴ다’, which is the form of 해라체 of declarative form.
However, 
the sentence on the whole shows the sentence is not aimed for specific audience. In other words, closing ending ‘-ㄴ다’ in this sentence is not closing ending of 해라체 in 상대높임법 used for face-to-face or conversational situation(상관적장면) but neutral-register(하라체) of in declarative sentence used for writing(단독적장면). 

Given the tense, the tense of main sentence is present tense determined by closing ending ‘-ㄴ다’. If
 the ‘inflected forms performing as noun, numeral, pronoun modifier'(관형사형) are underlined for explaining relative tense based on time of event in main sentence, it is shown as the following:
오늘따라 강하게 나오는 딸의 반발에 엄마는 눈에 힘을 주며 밥주걱을 들고 있던 오른손을 치켜드신다. 
The first 관형사형, the ‘time of event(사건시)’ of ‘나오는’ coincides with the time of event in main sentence, thus it’s present tense. The second, the time of event of ‘있던’ precedes that of main sentence, thus it signifies lasting of movement precedes the point of ‘time of event’. 

FYI: Think about nine parts of speech and seven constituents of sentence when you analyzing sentence.

WOW! Like, really WOW! Not anyone can explain this sentence the way he explained it. And for a moment I even thought he’s probably one of our professors. I wish he (she?) is my professor though. Not only did I learn how to analyze the sentence, but I also learned a lot about syntax.

I’m not sure if I can do it on my own though when it comes to analyzing sentences as I go on with my reading but I will try my best.

This is one of the few moments I love being a linguistic student! 🙂

I love going to WordReference Forums whenever I have questions about Korean. The people who answer are really awesome! And I also like browsing through the questions of others because most of them were stuff I’m also curious/confused about.

—–

I was stuck in traffic yesterday for a good 4 hours. Thanks to the traffic jam I was able to finish 4 chapters of the novel I am reading :). And the more I read, the faster and easier it becomes. ^^

Finding A Language Exchange Partner

First and foremost, I’d like to thank those you left comments on my recent rant about my Korean speakings skills. I was just feeling crappy that day so I wrote my crappy thoughts down. I was surprised by the comments, especially the lengthy ones. It does made me feel better, made me think and made me want to do better. Thanks guys! I wish there’s a like button on comments too! 🙂

Following most of the suggestions, I think it’s time for me to find a language exchange partner. Actually I’m quite envious with some bloggers who have really great language exchange partners. I guess it’s a good idea to start looking for one.

Actually I have lots of Korean friends. Some were exchange students I’ve met in our university and some were my schoolmates from CNU when I was on exchange. Some were friends of friends. But most of them are from Kim Sun Ah’s fandom ^^ and they were my closest friends. Some foreigner fans of Kim Sun Ah also studied/are studying Korean so I also get to talk to them in Korean (since they claim they don’t speak English/they refuse to speak English and I don’t speak their native languages and they don’t speak mine). With that being said, I actually shouldn’t have any problems finding someone to practice my Korean with. True. And not. Yes I often contact them and I often get to talk to them through email, our fancafe, facebook and on kakaotalk. But we are not close enough to call each other regularly and I’m sure they are all busy so I don’t want to bother them. Thus my writing and reading skills keeps getting better while my speaking skill is left behind.

I’ve tried looking for a language exchange partner before via Sharedtalk. After talking to few people I deleted my account because I found a partner. A very sweet 11-year old girl XD. She’s very enthusiastic in Skype video call. She likes talking and I like talking to her as well. But it didn’t work well. She even made schedules for us but whenever it’s our schedule to practice English she’ll suddenly stop being talkative and then will start talking in Korean. I get to talk in Korean, yes, but I get bored. Well, kids are kids so she only talks about the same thing over and over. We also can’t keep time because she wants to talk longer and I only want/need about 30mins of talk time because I’m very busy. Though it didn’t work out for us when it comes to language exchange, we became really good friends until now. She’s actually the reason why I was able to go to Lotte World. She bought me tickets and keeps buying me stuff and accessories while we were there. I still talk to her if we have time. Not in a language-exchange way but just as friends. Since then I never tried looking for another language-exchange partner – until yesterday.

So yesterday I tried my luck once more in finding a language exchange partner. I made a new account in Sharedtalk again and I also went to Interpals and Iaminkorea. I browsed some members and sent a few messages to some members.

I’m looking for a female partner because I often feel 어색하다 with males. It would be nice if it’s an 언니. And of course someone willing to talk via Skype regularly and is not just looking for friendship but someone really serious in language exchange. I don’t want to just be able to practice Korean. I also want to help them. I don’t want it to be a one-way exchange.

I saw many comments online saying it’s difficult to find Korean friends online. Many foreigners said they sent messages but never gets a reply. So I was surprised that since yesterday I kept receiving messages and emails. Was it because of how I wrote my profile? I wrote it 100% in Korean. And I guess mentioning I an online English tutor gave me an edge? 😄

My first language partner is actually a guy and younger than me. Opposite of what I was looking for initially. But he is very enthusiastic about the idea of having a language exchange partner. We exchange email messages and chatted a lot before we started talking in Skype. Another good thing about him, he’s actually attending an online English tutorial – similar to where I work – so the idea of free talk via Skype is not new to him so we were able to start right away. Some Koreans I’ve talked with feels awkward in talking right away and wants us to get to know each other by email first, correcting each other’s mistake and the likes and do skype if we are more comfortable with each other. Though it’s a good idea, as I’ve mentioned I have many friends with whom I can practice my Korean writing with. I need to practice talking right away. So far I am enjoying my first partner’s talk time. We talked in English yesterday and we talked in Korean today. His Korean voice is actually very nice. It felt like talking to TTMIK’s Hyun Woo. And he is good in matching my pace and correcting my mistakes – something my 11-year old partner wasn’t able to do. He also have loads of time these days. Looks like we can hit it off. I just hope we can have matching schedule when a new semester starts in Korea next month.

I’m still getting to know and trying to figure out schedules for 2, 3 other female Koreans. I think all of them were serious too. One of them is 2 years younger than me and is also taking online English lessons so we can drop the formalities and we’ll start right away. The other one is an 언니 and fairly serious about this too. I feel very comfortable talking to her via email so I’m looking forward to talk to her. But she’s pretty new to the whole language-exchange and skype thing so we’ll take it slowly (actually I’ll wait for her to install skype). She also seems busy so we might not be talking in a regular basis. It’s okay though because I think my first 2 partners are enough. The third one is also an 언니 but haven’t replied to me again.

There are many more others. I’m tempted to talk to them too but I know I don’t have the luxury of time. I’ll send them replies and if they are really serious I’m pretty sure they’ll keep contacting me. It’s not bad to have new friends, but I might have to sign out of the language exchange websites soon before my inbox gets full.

So far, among the language exchange sites, my favorite is Iaminkorea. I’ve met a number of serious language exchange partners there. If you are looking for one, try that website. 🙂

[Audio Blog] 더 파이브

Desperately trying to improve my speaking skills, I tried doing some recordings. I still can’t do an impromptu recording in Korean, so I just read what I have written in Sunaforever a few days/weeks ago.

I’m quite proud with what I have written. I actually don’t know how I was able to write this well. I’m not saying this is something good but in my writing level it’s one of the best ones I’ve written so far. Usually when I have strong feelings over something and I wrote about it in Korean (right away) I do better than how I usually write. I wrote this just after reading the webtoon while still teary-eyed and all. The other time, I opened my heart and talked about my 짝사랑 to an 언니 and I was able to write a 5,000-character email in one sitting! And I also did well when I wrote about the snack event we prepared for Kim Sun Ah because I was so happy after meeting her again.

Anyway, this is already the corrected version. There were some corrections made by people from lang-8. My pronunciation is still really bad and I made some mistakes. Urgh! I’m just reading it and I still make mistakes! Too lazy to do it again so just enjoy picking up the mistakes. Feel free to leave comments, suggestions and corrections. I’ll appreciate them! 🙂

발음… 발음아… 우리 앞으로 잘해보자!

더 파이브 잘 읽었어요!

한국어를 잘 못하는 저는 만화를 전부 읽어본적이 없어요.
뭐… 틈틈이 시간 나는 대로 한국어 연습을 위해 어떤 유치한 만화 1, 2 장을 대충 읽은적은 있어요.
근데 당연히 저는 더 파이브에 관심이 많고 너무 궁금해서 읽을 기회 나타나자마자 곧바로 읽기 시작했어요!
자신 없는 저는 그 만화를 이해 할 수 있는지 없는지 모르겠지만 끝까지 읽어보고싶었어요.
너무 궁금해서 그래요.
생각보다 너무 어렵지는 않았어요.
물론 읽으면서 네이버 한영과 국어사전 많이 쓰는데요 ㅋㅋ
100% 이해못했지만 (특히 사전에 찾을 수 없는 사투리과 욕도) 아마 80~90% 이해했어요.
저한테는 그만큼도 너무 소중해요.
그리고 읽으면서 한국어도 많이 배웠어요.
뭐… ‘젠장’ 같은 것? ㅋㅋㅋ
ㅋㅋ 농담이에요.
욕말고 좋은 단어과 문법도 많이 배웠어요.
믿어주세요~ ㅋㅋ

밤마다 12시까지 알바를 해야 돼요.
알바끝나자마자 새벽 4시까지 읽었어요.
3일 동안 그렇게 열심히, 천천히 읽어봤어요.

처음엔 너무 슬프고 불쌍하다는 것을 느껬어요.
읽을수록 더 궁금하고 더 떨리고 떨리고 떨렸어요.
어떤 공포나 스릴러 영화를 볼때마다 아무리 무서워도 손으로 눈을 가리기까지 해본 적이 없는데
결국에 이 만화를 읽으면서 두 번 손으로 두 눈을 가렸어요! 비명이 나오는 것도 참았어요! 떨렸어요. 진짜 떨렸어요.
그리고 고은아씨를 끝까지 응원하고 싶은 마음이 들었어요.
결말을 바로 알고 싶어서 빨리 읽으면 좋겠다고 생각했어요.
그런데 10장 남았을 때 부터 계속 읽고 싶지 않았어요 ㅠㅠ
고은아씨에게 좋지 않는 일이 생기면 마음이 견딜 수 없을까봐…
그리고 빨리 읽으면 다 끝을거예요.
드라마 보는 것처럼 격한 감정이나 느낌 있어서 그리울까봐 계속 읽고 싶지 않았어요 ㅠㅠ
당연히 너무 궁금해서 못 참았어요 ㅋㅋ
마지막 회를 읽고 에필로그동영상을 볼때 눈물을 흘렸어요.
또한 동영상을 끝나고 10, 15분 지나도 눈물이 계속 흘렸어요.

이게 뭐야?!!!
원래 제 생각에는 복수에 대한 스릴러이라면 미국 스릴러 영화랑 비슷하지 않아요?
스릴러가 다 그래요.
연쇄살인범 1명 있다. 주인공은 그 미친 놈을 잡아야 된다. 물론 그건 쉽지 않다. 아무리 힘들어도 결국에 그 놈을 죽여버린다. 축하한다! 끝!
근데 이 만화를 읽은 다음에 보통 만화… 보통 스릴러아니란 걸 깨달았어요.
눈물 흐르고 너무 놀라고… 소름(이)끼치는 느낌부터 감동 까지 느꼈어요!
물론 이 만화는 2010년에 한국콘텐츠진흥원에서 우수상을 받고 대한민국에서 유명한 만화이래요.
그걸 알지만 생각보다 더 훌륭해요
읽으면서 만화 읽기아니란 걸 느꼈어요.완전 영화 같아요!
영화이라는 말이라면….
이 만화가 영화로 볼 수 있는 것 더 좋죠!
그렇게 좋을지… 아니… 더 좋을거라고 믿어요.
읽으면서 머릿속에 선아언니를 상상했는데…
현실에서 우리 김배우님이 보여줄 연기가 더 좋은것이죠!
얼마나 기다려야 돼요? ㅠㅠ
저 같은 외국사람은 누구보다 더 많이 기다려야 돼요 ㅠㅠ
영화권에 가서 볼 기회도 없고 DVD 나오기 전 까지 많이 기다려야 돼요 ㅠㅠ
뭐… 한국에 가지 않는다면….. ^^;;

제 처음 읽는 만화는 다 파이브가 돼서 좋죠!
만화중에서 명품인 것 같아요.
아직도 못 읽어본 사람들, 이 만화를 사서 읽어 보세요.
끝까지 다 못 읽어본 사람들도 빨리 읽어 보세요.
후회 안될거예요!

My Lowest Point in My Korean Learning

As I’ve said in a previous post, my “lows” over my Korean skills lack of Korean skills often happen after a good “high”. A few days ago I managed to finish reading an entire manhwa (all 52 chapters) and though I didn’t understand 100% of it, I understood enough for me to laugh, for me to cry brawl, for my skin to crawl… I even covered my eyes twice or thrice and had to suffer withdrawal syndrome after. So overwhelmed with the manhwa, I even wrote a little review (or should I say ‘reaction’) about it. The longest serious and non-prattle text I’ve ever written in Korean by myself. Yes it’s still too child-sounding and have errors here and there, but I’m quite satisfied and happy with what I’ve written. If I’m more comfortable using more grammar and vocabulary I could’ve expressed myself better but nonetheless I guess I was able to somehow convey my thoughts pretty well. Satisfactory enough for me and my level in writing.

I am happy with my recent reads (a manhwa, a novel, and a new textbook). I learn a lot each day. And the more I read, the easier it gets. I was foolishly skipping in my own little cloud nine when I was whacked in the head by my deteriorating speaking skills. And I fell flat on the ground.

Speaking has been my weakest point. I think a part of it was because I didn’t begin my study “properly”. Not thinking that I would, someday, speak in Korean I focused more on words, grammar, anything, everything but proper pronunciation. Since then and until now I usually study with my eyes and brain. Reading, thinking, writing in Korean – quietly. I seldom open my mouth and speak. And because I know I am not good, my confidence in speaking is not that great either, making speaking a lot more difficult for me.

In a place where I do volunteering, there are a number of Filipino employees who can speak Korean well. And when I said well, I mean they can carry continuous and spontaneous conversation with the other Korean employees/volunteers. I also have classmates that went on exchange in Korea who are very good in conversation. The funny thing is, they would often ask me what is X in Korean or how do you spell Y in Korean and what does Korean sentence/phrase Z (especially when they are reading/writing something). I wonder how they can speak so comfortably despite not knowing a bunch of fairly easy words/grammar.

I honestly feel bad that my speaking skills are not at par with other Filipinos I know that speaks Korean. I used to calm fool myself with the excuse that they all have studied in Korea and I haven’t. I don’t actually believe that one needs to be in Korea just to be able to speak Korean well. I believe that one can speak Korean well even if they haven’t stepped in Korea (same goes for other languages). But after I became an exchange student, even if it’s just for a month, I can no longer fool myself and use the same old excuse.

I want to believe that different people have different learning curves. That I can also improve if I will exert enough efforts. So I am patiently trying. But my patience ran out last Saturday.

Last Saturday I met a good Japanese friend who is good in Korean. Since my Japanese skills is almost non-existent and she “claims” she’s not good in English and refused to speak to me in English (She’s been like that since the first time we’ve met, but I know she can speak and understand English because she speaks to others in English. But she never speak a single English word to me. Not a single one! And I love her all the more for that!) we talked in Korean. I showed them around Manila – mostly on historical places. Lacking knowledge on historical terms in Korean, it was difficult to explain the different places and different events that occurred in our country in Korean. But it’s not only that that I was frustrated about. I can’t even fully express myself even if we were just talking about random things. There were so many things I wanted to tell her, ask her, things I want to talk about. She asked me lots of things and I want to tell her exactly what’s in my 마음속. But I failed. I just can’t. I can’t find the right words and the right sentence ending that can convey my feelings well. I didn’t know where my -더라, -더니, -듯, -바람에, -수록, -도록 went. All I know they all left me and only the -이에요s, -죠s, -잖아s, -는데s, -아/어서s, 갓같아s that stayed! 개다가 has visited me once along with my favorite -자마자. And as always all the -가다 and -오다 verb combination confused me to hell! I was both tongue-tied and mind-tied. Most of the time I can’t even finish my sentences. The moment she shows understanding of what I was about to say I stop without  finishing my sentences. My word choices were not that great either! And don’t ask me about my pronunciation either.

I was frustrated and very tired as I try to rack my brains. But she said one two things that snapped my patience with myself. She saw my My Name Is Kim Sam Soon novel and I told her I am reading it now. She said she gave up reading it a long time ago because it was so difficult and there were so many words she doesn’t know. She also asked me to tell her the story of the manhwa we were both reading because she still can’t finish it because it’s difficult so she just quickly scan through it and look at the picture.

W.T.H?

WTH?!!!

She’s so fluent in Korean. She can talk to our Korean friends without any trouble. She can perfectly blend in as if a native speaker. Just like my co-workers. Just like my classmates who went on exchange. Comfortably.

What the hell is wrong with me? Why can’t I speak like them? I can read a novel. I can finish a manhwa. I can pour my heart on writing. But why does my stupid mouth won’t open properly. Why do words just won’t come out of my mouth. Why do I feel so 긴장하다 and my thoughts turn into a bowl of 비빔밥 whenever I need to speak up.

And for the first time I cried over my Korean skills.

I must be doing something wrong. Why am I the only one like this? I should do something about this. But until now I don’t know what to do.

I tried convincing myself that I’ve improved a lot already. 2 and a half years ago, when I first met her, my Japanese friend, we barely talk. A few words. A few short sentences. Some signs. And a lot of smiles. And now we were able to finally talk. I should be grateful. I should be happy. Well I am. But that was 2 and a half years ago! Yes I’m glad I made an improvement. But if that was 2 years ago, I should’ve been way better than how I was last Saturday!

I felt so sad sending my friend away. I’ll miss her. And I also hated myself because there were really lots and lots and lots of things I wanted to tell her. We talked about many things and I discovered that we have similar opinions on several issues we are both facing. I want to tell her my experiences and my feelings. I really wanted to open my heart to her the way she did to me. But I wasn’t able to. I wanted to hit my stupid mouth!

But no, not giving up of course! Darn, no! After crying last Saturday on my way home, I promised myself that the next time I’ll see my friend, I’ll be able to express myself well! Although I don’t know yet how I can improve my speaking skills, I’ll find a way. Maybe I should start listening to radios? Korean podcasts? Start an audio blog? Get a language partner?

아는 방법을 알려주세요~

[소설 Translation] My Name Is Kim Sam Soon Prologue

DISCLAIMER: I’m still not good in Korean. Please take my translations with a grain of salt (might as well take the whole salt shaker with you). I am just translating directly with no proof-reading. If you found errors in the translations (in case you have a copy of the novel) and/or my English I’d appreciate if you can give corrections by leaving a comment below. I’m just doing this for fangirling purposes and I find reading and attempting to translate the novel as another opportunity for me to learn Korean in a fun way. Also blogging the translations might push me to finally finish reading the novel within the year. 

——-

The life of a Korean old maid

It’s easier to get hit by an atomic bomb than to find a man at the age of 30.
[Fanny Fink*]

“Mom! This is my lifelong wish! I definitely certainly absolutely MUST do this within the year!”

“Hmph! Fat chance! Just drop it, you brat!”

That was Sam Soon’s mom initial reaction as she heard, yet again, her youngest daughter’s objective for the year.

“And why EXACTLY can’t I?” asked Sam Soon with furrowed brows to her mother who had, once again, ruthlessly got in the way of her rosy dream.

“This is the thousandth time I’m telling you this, you brat! Do I have to remind you who gave you your name? Your grandfather did! So how can you change it as you please?”

“This is also the thousandth time I’m telling you this, Mom! You too should actually take responsibility. Was I born as your third daughter just because I wanted to? Why am I the only one given such a tacky and old-fashioned name?! Kim Sam Soon? What on earth is Kim Sam Soon?!!!”

“You… you..! Watch your mouth!”

Of all days, Sam Soon is showing quite a strong attitude today. Her mother glared at her and raised the rice spatula she has been holding – looking all ready to hit her as soon as she blurt out just one more wrong word. Usually Sam Soon would back-off with that kind of threat. But today was different. Of course, just to be on the safe side, she sees to it to take a step back for every step her mother made towards her. But she kept her head high and continued saying what she wanted to say.

“Is that so, Mom? If I was named Sam Soon then my sisters should’ve been named Il Soon and Yi Soon too, right? But why is it that eldest sister is named Il Yeon, second sister is Yi Young yet me, the youngest… ( – deleted sentence -) Why am I the only one named Sam Soon?”

Her mother was a bit startled with Sam Soon’s latest and incontestable argument. Seeing her mother soften a bit, Sam Soon gained more courage and spoke in a slightly higher tone.

“Right, Mom? Hurry up and get married within the year, you said? Huh! What to do? Every man I met struggles not to burst out laughing upon hearing my name. Why are you being like this to me and me alone? Am I adopted? Is that so? Is that so?!”

For 29 years, she carried the name Kim Sam Soon and suffered all the burden that comes along with it. Every time she introduces herself and says, “My name is Kim Sam Soon,” for sure 6 out of 10 people will burst out laughing. The other 4? Well, they were able to successfully suppress it.

Since she’s been suffering for almost 30 years now, Sam Soon just let it pass for the most part of the year. However there will be at least a month in every year where she hated her name the most. And it happens to be that month right now. She has a haunting feeling that the root cause of all the misfortunes and difficulties she’s been going through is none other than her unlucky and hideous name.

Suddenly, Sam Soon remembered the last phone call she received just last Christmas from a guy she used to love. The beginning of the string of misfortunes.

[Merry Christmas. Let’s break up.]

For someone who bakes cakes, Christmas is the busiest season of the year. Sam Soon was only able to endure the heavy works on her shoulders that season with the thoughts of seeing her boyfriend again the soonest. That call was something she least expected. At first Sam Soon wanted to believe that she’s just having hallucinations from exhaustion. Or, if not, maybe he’s just joking.

“Is that some kind of a joke?”

Yes, must be a joke. But still does he really have to ask this kind of strange things at Christmas? She was in the middle of this train of thought when she heard a heavy sigh on the other line. The guy on the other line continued talking.

(I have never been more serious as I am now.)

And that was how her 28th Christmas became her worst Christmas ever. ( – deleted sentece – )And that’s how, up to this date, she is a lonely 29-year-old single. She thought, “To hell with this corny name!”  If only her name is at least along the likes of, say, Kim Hee Jin, then these ill-fated things wouldn’t have happen, she thought.

While in the middle of her mutterings, Sam Soon entered the room she is sharing with her second eldest sister.  Her sister was watching a foreign movie and there on the screen was a really gloomy-looking woman. The woman said, “It’s easier to get hit by an atomic bomb than to find a man at the age of 30.”

At that exact moment, that unknown woman’s words pierced Sam Soon’s heart. And she also felt a pang of panic. Of course, no one can really tell, but the chances will be slimmer when she turns thirty.

So on that night, she made an oath in front of her sister.

“Sis, I made a oath in the name of heaven.”

“And what is it?”

“I solemnly swear that within the year I will definitely apply and have a successful name change and I will meet and date a guy a million times more fabulous than that jerk who cheated on me!”

Her sister giggled upon hearing her oath.

“Ah? Reeaaally now, my dear little sister?” her sister said in a sarcastic tone.

“And also, if I end up dating a good-for-nothing-jerk again, I’m a Dutchman,” Sam Soon said in a determined voice. “Got it, sis? You stand as my witness, okay?” she continues. “So, the moment you see signs that I’m about to get tricked again by a good-for-nothing guy you must whack my head and bring me back to my senses, okay?”

“You are you saying that this time you’ll never fall for just looks and will date a really fine guy?”

Sam Soon nodded without batting an eyelid.

“Of course!”

♡      ♥      ♡      ♥

To escape the cursed singlehood, Sam Soon went to a matchmaking agency. The agent was reading Sam Soon’s bio-data and creased his forehead when he reached the section about body measurements.

Name: Kim Sam Soon
Birth date: July 25, 1975.
Zodiac Sign: Leo.
Blood Type: B
Family:
Father: Kim Bok Man. Self-employed
Mother: Park Bong Sook
2 older sisters
Occupation: Patissier (pastry chef)
Specialty: Making delicious cakes
Hobby: Eating those delicious cakes
Body measurements: ……

“Height 159cm. Weight 63kg. Hmm… hmm… this is a bit… …. No properties… savings is somehow…. Father is self-employed.”

Her body measurements has always been like a top secret and it has never been exposed like this to any guy. Now this agent mercilessly analyzed it just like how a butcher sorts out rotten from fresh meat. He looked up and Sam Soon met his eyes wiith furrowed brows.

After they exchanged piercing stares with each other, the agent eventually surrendered and looked again at Sam Soon’s documents and in a casual tone asked, “If you were born in 1975, how old are you then?”

Does he have to ask something so obvious and can easily be calculated? Nonetheless it leaves Sam Soon no other choice but to answered right away.

“Well, 29,” she said in a low tone.

“Hmm, age 29, occupation patissier, annual income… okay, body measurements…. uhm, uhm… ehem, ehem.”

 The agent keeps coughing as he scanned through Sam Soon’s personal details – age, height, weight and finances – making Sam Soon all the more uncomfortable.

“As you know it, in this not go great economic situation, female university students who can’t get jobs are flooding the marriage market. For every 100 female members, there are barely 60 male members. It’s highly competitive than college admissions.”

“So, is he saying that if those spring chicks can’t get married easily, it would be way more difficult for me?” Sam Soon muttered to herself.

“Fortunately you have a secured job and that’s a strong point. However, frankly speaking, your age, educational background, body frame, etc, etc puts off your chances in meeting a pair. That’s why…”

“That’s why what?’ Sam Soon thought. “Although I gained 12kgs while nursing a broken heart for 2 months, I’m not that ugly looking, and, as you’ve said, I have a stable job. So, what’s the problem?” Sam Soon continued her trail of thought.

But what the agent said next felt like a bucket of cold water poured over her strong self-confidence.

“How about being a special member until we find you a pair?”

The agent’s voice was one notch politer. He suddenly gives off an aura of a salesman who is hard-selling his products. She is 29 years old. And she haven’t heard of anything “special” that doesn’t come with a “special” price tag. But as was told by the agent earlier, she’s not that bad anyway. Sam Soon, also in a more polite tone, asked.

“If it’s a ‘special membership’, how much will the membership fee then?”

Well, even if the fee will be expensive, if this is the way for her to meet a nice guy then Sam Soon thought she shall take this challenge. But that thought only lasted until the middle-aged agent’s next words.

“It will be 7,900,000 won.”

“What did you say?”

Sam Soon’s eyes grew even wider and her mouth fell open. It’s as if the agent said that tomorrow’s the end of the world. The agent casually repeated what he just said.

“7,900,000 won.”

“7,900,000 won? Not 790,000 won? If meeting one guys is at 10,000 won… it’s 790 times more? Are you perhaps gonna introduce me to Bae Yong Joon, Jang Dong Gun and Won Bin?” Sam Soon shivered.

The agent gave Sam Soon a lousy smile and said, “Although we don’t handle celebrities here, in this time of adversity and the stiff competition to the altar…….”

Sam Soon suddenly stood up even before the agent finished talking. As she started walking towards the exit, she suddenly turned around, sat down, and snatched away her bio data from the agent’s desk. All the information about a woman named Kim Sam Soon is written on that information sheet. That place is not to be trusted with that kind of document.

Sam Soon tear the document apart and shoved it inside her bag. And in a chilly tone, she angrily snapped at the agent.

“Even if I starve to death I will never have that kind of money! Even if you ask anyone out on the streets they’ll say there are no deadlines in marriage. And 7,900,000 won can already cover the entire cost of a wedding ceremony!”

With no intentions of yielding, the agent snapped back at her.

“What you said may be true but, Ms. Kim Sam Soon, with your age, your body, and your face, baiting a guy off the streets will not be an easy feat either. Ah, not to mention that rustic name of yours! Ah, have you seen that German movie “Fanny Fink?”

Oh, how much she wants to strangle this ahjussi who keeps mocking her. But she shut her mouth and waited for what he was about to say about the movie that he suddenly brought up. After a few beats, the agent said, “It’s easier for women in their 30s to get hit by an atomic bomb than to date a guy. The honestly of that line was very impressive for someone like me who works in the marriage industry (?).”

It feels like the agent stabbed her chest with a kitchen knife. She imagined herself force-feeding him with a cake peppered with poison. Realizing it was impossible to do so, Sam Soon left the marriage agency office and banged the door shut. She’s just 29. Still single. Still a promising age. She can’t commit murder.

——–

Footnotes:

*Fanny Fink the main character in a 1994 German Movie Keiner liebt mich (Nobody Loves Me)

Korean Learner Comments:

IMG_4230

Three days. It took me three days to translate 15 pages. Well, not 3 full days. If translated into hours maybe 15 hours? It’s a good start. I hope to improve my speed in reading and translation soon. It was very difficult, yes. But I enjoyed it so much! It’s the first time I read something and understood it almost 100%. Almost. There were a couple of sentences that I just can’t understand no matter what I do. I used the dictionary a lot as I read and translate. I’ve highlighted new words and marked confusing sentences. I input new words to my new anki deck.

The drama watcher me is more comfortable with conversational Korean. Thus the sentences in the books inside quotation marks were the easiest parts for me. The rest of the narration and descriptions are still very difficult. It’s also difficult to translate. Even if I understood a sentence already, sometimes it just doesn’t translate well to English. That, plus the fact that I’m not an expert in English either. There were many times I can easily translate some sentences into my native language, but not in English.

I enjoyed reading because I am not finally exposed to the “written Korean”. The style, most especially the unending embedding of modifiers, is still new to me and it takes time before I can fully absorb a sentence. After 15 pages, I can feel getting used to it YET I don’t think I can ever produce something like that if I’ll write. I hope now that I am starting to read more, I’ll be able to go out of my “conversational writing style” someday.

Words. Too many new words. And a number of them were pair words (uhm, how do you call them?) – words that can’t stand alone and can/must only be used with another word. I’ve used the 국어 dictionary a lot because there were many words that are not in the Eng-Korean dictionary. There were even words that are not in the 국어 dictionary that I have to google. Some were even have to be explained to me by The Korean Crush.

NOTES:

어림 반 푼 어치 없는 소리! – Not a chance!
인정사정없다 – ruthless, without mercy
모친 – mother
부친 – father
마른하늘의 날벼락
부들거리다 – 자꾸 몸이 부르르 떨리다. 또는 자꾸 몸을 크게 부르르 떨다
한이 없다
멋지구리하게 – 멋지게
나만 어디서 주워왔어?

Fangirl Comments:

Ekkk!!! Finally! Finally finally finally! After sitting in my bookshelf for 6 years, finally I get to read AND understand one section (one out of 22)! These scenes were not in the drama as they were. Her arguments with her mom about how tacky her name was were scattered on many “dinner scenes” in the drama. The scene in the marriage agency was just Sam Soon’s dream (well, was it?) in the drama. And as what novelist Ji Soo Hyeon said, Sam Soon seems more feisty in the drama. But both are lovable. In the drama her annual income is zero because she got fired after skipping work on Christmas because she had to stalk her cheating boyfriend – which was used as a strong opening scene of the drama. I love the funny tone of the novel. And I must comment writer Kim Do Wo and Director Kim Yoon Chul for carrying it all the way to the drama. Can’t wait to read the next chapter, but it may take time… loads of time.

My Korean is better in the morning!

My Korean is always better in the morning!

I’ve noticed this a few times now, but somehow I speak better and comprehend better in the morning XD.

When I was preparing a small event for I Do I Do in Korea last summer, Kim Sun Ah’s manager will always call me to update me or ask me for updates or give me instructions. It’s always a challenge for me and I felt really stressed to a point that I dread hearing the sound of my ringing phone and I wouldn’t want to press the receive button whenever I see x매니저님 or xx매니저님 on the caller ID. Don’t get me wrong, Kim Sun Ah’s managers were really nice and accommodating. But, of course, they speak Korean. Speaking is still a challenge for me (then and until now). And anyone learning Korean and have made a phone call in Korean would know how stressful it is to have a phone conversation if one is still not very good in Korean – like me.

Anyway, among the many phone calls we’ve had there was one call that happened in a bright early morning. And it was the smoothest phone call I’ve had with one of them. I was surprised I managed to finish the phone call with ease. I understood him 100% and I was able to express myself the way I want to with no awkward silence and no stuttering. After the phone call I told my friend, “I hope it’s always morning!”

Yesterday I spent most of my Saturday reading Kim Sam Soon. From morning to evening (in between work). I’ve highlighted words I do not know and marked sentences that I just can’t comprehend no matter how much I try to analyze them. This morning, before I resume my reading, I checked back the sentences I marked last night and I ended up understanding most of them now. And I realized that some words that I highlighted were words I already know. I didn’t do anything last night. I just had a good night’s sleep. 😄

But I guess a good night’s sleep made a difference? Usually after a few hours of straight Korean practice (be it textbook reading or writing or whatnot) I’ll feel really drained and my “Korean brain” will turn gooey, making it all the more difficult as hours pass by. But in the morning, everything feels so fresh and I can comprehend better.

Is there anyone out there like me?