Tag Archive | 토픽 중급

Please Teach Me Korean: 27회 TOPIK 어휘 및 문법

I just finished going through the 어휘 및 문법 section of the 27th TOPIK and there are some things that I still can’t understand. So I’m putting them up here so that I can go back to it later. Hopefully also, some good souls would come across this and answer my questions. 🙂

EDITED: Received answers from Shanna and 2 good souls (reineblanc, Superhero1 & bobon2023) from Wordreference. I am a happy girl because I can now clearly understand! Thanks everyone! 🙂

Do check the comments of Shanna below. Thanks Shanna! 🙂


공연이 늦게 끝나 밤 열한 시가 넘어서 집에 도착했다.

* Why is there no conjunction between 공연이 늦게 끝나 and 밤 열한 시가…
Why not 늦게 끝나서 or 늦게 끝나고. How can this be translated in English? The performance ended late so I got (arrived) home at (when it turned) 11pm (?)


– In this sentence, the ending ‘-아’ (like in 끝나) has almost the same role as ‘-아서'(in 끝나서). It can refer to time order or cause-and-effect relation.
These pages may be of help : ‘-아’ http://krdic.naver.com/detail.nhn?docid=24566100 , ‘-아서’ http://krdic.naver.com/detail.nhn?docid=24758100

– 끝나고 doesn’t work here

– Best translated as “I arrived home after 11 p.m because it (공연) finished late. 넘어서 – after (in this context) 

– “I arrived home late after 11 at night because the gig finished late.” is another possible translation (bonbon2023)

‘끝나’ in your sentence has – 아10「2」까닭이나 근거 따위를 나타내는 연결 어미.
The reason why you can’t see ending -아 is 한글맞춤법.
Article 34 of section 5, chapter 4: It is written as the shortened form if ‘-아/-어, -았-/-었-‘ combines with vowel ‘ㅏ, ㅓ’.
e.g 가아 >가, 나아> 나, 가았다>갔다

-고, -아, -서 are conjunction-endings that attach to verb or adjective stems. The conjunction 그리고, 그래서 don’t attach to stems.

I don’t see any difference if ‘나’ is changed to ‘나서’ in meaning, but it seems clumsy because of the repeated ‘-서’, 끝나서 and 넘어서.
(The reason why it clumsy is since we avoid using same endings, josas if possible.) But, there’s some difference if you use ‘끝나고’ conjunction-ending ‘-고’ relates ‘공연이~고’ clause and ‘밤~도착했다’ clause.
공연이 늦게 끝나 밤 열한 시가 넘어서 집에 도착했다. (fine)
공연이 늦게 끝나고 밤 열한 시가 넘어서 집에 도착했다.(fine but different from two)
공연이 늦게 끝나서 밤 열한 시가 넘어서 집에 도착했다.(no error but a bit clumsy) – bonbon2023


짐을 ( ) 밖으로 나왔다.
책상 위에 신문을 ( ) 두었다.
아들의 전화를 받고 마음을 ( ).
① 들다 ② 풀다 ③ 놓다 ④ 펴다

* I know the answer is 놓다 but some of the choices can be used on some sentences while not on some.

짐을 ( ) 밖으로 나왔다. You can say 짐을 들고 밖으로 나왔다, right? 짐을 풀고 밖으로 나왔다 is also possible, right? Of  course 짐을 놓고 밖으로 나왔다. I googled 가방을 펴고 and I saw the phrase 구겨진 가방 펴는 방법. So I guess it’s possible but not often use. So one can carry a bag and go outside, unpack a bag and go outside, put down a bag and go outside and well yeah, unfold a bag and go outside.

책상 위에 신문을 ( ) 두었다. Is it correct to say that 놓다 and 두다 comes in pair? 책상 위에 신문을 놓아 두었다. 놔 뒀어다. 신문을 들고 있다 is possible but not with 두다? And I guess 풀다 just doesn’t go with a 신문. But 신문을 펴다 is commonly used but does 펴다 go with 두다. Can one say 신문을 펴고 두었다?

아들의 전화를 받고 마음을 ( ). 마음을 들다 is a very common idiom(?) which means to like something/someone but I don’t think it works in this context. 마음을 풀다 is also an idiom which means to ease one’s mind so I guess it could work. 마음을 놓다 also means to be at ease. When I googled 마음을 펴다 I didn’t get any results.


– 짐. Although 짐 can mean bag – as in luggage it may not necessarily be a bag, even on this context. Because it could also mean box/es, cargo, freight. So it’s almost impossible to use 펴다 here. Unless your luggage is a foldable one like this: http://www.theminichina.com/UploadFiles/facep/foldable-canvas-luggage-bag_aprqvh1319691407844.jpg XD

– 신문을 펴 두었다? 신문을 펴 두었다 or 신문을 펴 놓았다 (I don’t know why I have so much affinity with the -아/어/여서 and 고 conjugations!!! Well, I just learned that 아 is sort of a conjugation on it’s own ㅠㅠ)

– No such this as 마음 들다 because it’s supposed to be 마음에 들다 .

– When a mother was angry about her son’s rudeness (so they might have a trouble), but after son’s ringing, she reconciled with him. We describe this situation as 아들의 전화를 받고 마음을 풀었다 (superhero1). It’s usually used when you are worried about someone misunderstanding you but the misunderstanding is resolved (Shanna).

– When one’s young son enlisted to the army, one might worry about his being safe. After getting phone call from one’s son, one would say 아들의 전화를 받고 마음을 놓았다.


집을 ( ) 뒤에 다시 생각해 봅시다.
그는 의류 사업으로 많은 이익을 ( ).
어머니의 상태를 ( ) 입원을 결정하려고 한다.
① 보다 ② 내다 ③ 구하다 ④ 살피다

* So the answer is 보다 but…

집을 ( ) 뒤에 다시 생각해 봅시다. You see (보다) a house and you can think about it after seeing it. You can find (구하다) a house but does it make sense to think about it again after already finding one? You can vacate a house 집내다 and think about it after (but what else can you do?). I guess you can also 살피다 a 집 but again, why think about it again?

그는 의류 사업으로 많은 이익을 ( ). 이익을 보다 is to make/see a profit. 이익을 내다 is to make a profit. I think obtain/getting a profit 이익을 구하다 can also work. 이익을 살피다 I’m not sure. But naver has this sentence 그는 자기 자신의 이익을 살피는 데 능하다. However I don’t think it’ll work in the context of this question?

어머니의 상태를 ( ) 입원을 결정하려고 한다. Once can look 보다 at a 상태 before hospital admission. I saw some 상태을 내다 but I don’t think it’ll work on this context. I’m not sure if 구하다 works for 상태 but do we need to 구하다 a 상태 before deciding hospital admission? Of course one can also evaluate 살피다 first a 상태.


– You can say 집을 구한 뒤에 다시 생각해 봅시다. When you tried to get a house, for some reason, you did not have time to look around many houses, therefore, you had to rent a house for a month in a hurry, and then, you could search other places to live, staying at the house rented for 1 month. In 집을 살핀 뒤에 다시 생각해봅시다., suppose that there are two detectives. One said to the other, ‘I’m not sure he is the culprit. After combing through the house, let’s think again.’ (Superhero1).

– We very occasionally use the verb 구하다 (which means 좇다 here) with the objective 이익. e.g. 눈 앞의 이익만을 구하지 말고 멀리 내다 보아라. You should weigh short-term gains against long-term consequences.(Do not follow the immediate profit.) Look further (Superhero1).

– 이익을 살피다 is a different meaning altogether. it’s a figurative use (Shanna)

– In “그는 자기 자신의 이익을 살피는 데 능하다. ” ‘이익을 살피다’ is ‘to manage profits’ (bobon2023)

alodia: 헐! Really my most hated part in the TOPIK paper! Very difficult!!! But thanks for all the answers, it’s clearer now but I’m not sure if I can remember this well. 


① 사회가 너무 빨리 변해 가서 적응하기 힘들다.
② 어려운 일을 끝내고 나니 기분이 매우 좋았다.
③ 아이들이 너무 떠들어 대서 일을 할 수가 없었다.
④ 지금까지 힘들게 운영해 버린 가게를 닫기로 했다.

What is the 대서 on ③? 대다? Can’t you just say 떠들어서 일을 할 수가 없었다. How is 떠들어 대다 differs from just 떠들다?

*Just a reminder to myself, ④ should be 버리는 가게 because it’s not in the past. The 했다 at the end made me confused at first then I realized that -기로 usually takes the past form because you already planned on doing it (even if you haven’t done it). And the 지금까지 is obviously something that is NOT in the past.


–  x + 대다 is a grammar structure meaning ‘repetitively doing something’  (Shanna)

TOPIK Study plans

So, this time I’m serious I want to be serious! Since there’s still 168 days before the next TOPIK, I want to use these remaining days wisely. I came up with a 15-day study plan for every TOPIK paper.

  1. 어휘 맟 문법. Input all unfamiliar words to ANKI; Review ANKI
  2. Study 어휘 맟 문법 1 – 10; Review ANKI
  3. Study 어휘 맟 문법 11  20; Review ANKI
  4. Study 어휘 맟 문법 21 – 30; Review ANKI
  5. 쓰기. Input all unfamiliar words to ANKI; Review ANKI
  6. Study 쓰기 31 – 40; Review ANKI
  7. Study 쓰기 41 – 44; Write essay; Review ANKI
  8. 읽기. Input all unfamiliar words to ANKI; Review ANKI
  9. Study 읽기 31 – 40; Review ANKI
  10. Study 읽기 41 – 50; Review ANKI
  11. Study 읽기 51 – 60; Review ANKI
  12. 듣기. Input all unfamiliar words to ANKI; Review ANKI
  13. Study 듣기 1 – 10; Review ANKI
  14. Study 듣기 11 – 20; Review ANKI
  15. Study 듣기 21 – 30; Review ANKI

Repeat for the next TOPIK paper.

At this rate, I can study at least 10 TOPIK papers before the 30th TOPIK – or more, if I have more time.

Yes I’m back with ANKI. Just to review and help me NOT forget the words that I’ve encountered on the TOPIK papers. But I don’t memorize the words. I still use Naver Dictionary, Google search and my drama transcripts to learn new words. I also just recently compiled lyrics of my favorite songs into one html file and added it to my drama transcripts html files so that I can also CTRL + F my way through song lyrics! 🙂

I would like to stick to this plan. After all it’s not that time consuming anyway. Of course it’s not the only things that I’ll be studying for the next 168 days. I’ll pair it with other lessons or textbooks if I have time (for now I’m working on TTMIK lessons). But will make sure to study the ‘required lessons’ of the day even if I will be very busy.

28th TOPIK experience

After ditching many TOPIK exams in the past, I finally took the Intermediate TOPIK last Sunday, all thanks to our persistent 선생님 who wouldn’t take no for an answer (and to Kim Sun Ah who decided to stay in Korea). It was both difficult and easy. Difficult for my level still. Sitting on the exam with my stored knowledge alone is not enough for me to pass it. But for someone who’ve prepared a lot the exam will be easy. Because of our review sessions, I was able to go through all sections of TOPIK 18th, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th and have read all the essay questions from the 10th. And the vocabularies and grammars from those papers were basically the same ones that appeared on the 28th. That made me regret not preparing well. Because I’m positive I can get a level 3 if I only found time to review all my notes on all the papers I’ve tried.

The first question on the first part (vocabs and grammar) was such a downer though! I understood the sentence, but only understood 2 out of the 4 choices and I’m sure the answer is between the two that I do not know. I had to just guess (and luckily I guessed correctly). What kind of first question it was? The first question’s supposed to be a give away, right? Hahaha! The rest were okay, but, just like on the first question, I’m often torn between 2 answers.

Listening was okay. The first few questions, as expected, were fairly easy. But from the middle onwards, I was sometimes too slow and the next sound clip is already being played before I can even answer the previous question/s.

Writing was a bit frustrating. There was a question that I was so happy I understood everything except for the last sentence. But the question was based on THAT last sentence! The essay too almost caught me off guard. I’m glad I browsed through old essay questions thus I learned 단점. What if I didn’t? I would have nothing to say on that essay. 장점 was also a new word for me. In fact, at first, I just guessed its meaning from context. Though eventually I remember an expression of Kim Sun Ah from City Hall “사소한 말도 귀담아 들으시는구나. 되게 장점이다” and a vocab question from the 18th TOPIK that confirmed my understanding of the word. The thing is, it falls under the ‘personality’ category. The category I wasn’t able to practice at all. I prepared some possible answers about weakness and how to improve/change it but I haven’t wrote an essay about it. But I still attempted to write something and it was so much fun because I ended up writing lines from song lyrics and dramas here and there! I was even humming a song trying my best to remember the words from it. Does plagiarism apply in answering TOPIK essay?

Reading was a suicide! The text were so long and difficult. There were lots of words that I do not know. If one concentrates, even with new words, one can somehow make intelligent guesses. But I didn’t. I just read the paragraph once. Then guess. Read the next. Then guess. Until the time ran out.

It was loads of fun. Especially having to take it with lots of friends. Usually the intermediate exam room was dominated by kyopos. But this time we dominated them! Mwahaha! And no one ditched a TOPIK exam this time.

And even if I wasn’t able to really study and prepare well for the exam. I did learn a lot and it makes my heart flutter whenever I watch a drama or read stuff from Korean blogs or fan cafes and I can understand most of them now, all thanks to the things I’ve learned from reviewing for TOPIK. 🙂

I’m now more excited to take the next one (30th) on April. I’m not sure how heavy my load will be next semester, but I want to start studying for the next one right away and be consistent with it. We have 172 days before the next one! 화이팅!

By the way the 28th TOPIK papers and answer keys are now up on TOPIK’s official homepage and at Topik Guide.

Intermediate TOPIK Essay Questions

NOTE: Post edited to include the 31st TOPIK question.

I’ve compiled all the essay questions for the Intermediate TOPIK from the 10th to the 21st (the most recent one). I noticed that there are 3 types of questions (so far):

1. Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams

What hobby would you like to learn (31st)

What kind of house would you like to live in (25th)

What kind of life would you like to live 10 years from now (24th)

What kind of job would you like to have (23th) & (10th)

Who would you like to be (19th)

Who would you like to meet (13th)

How do you see yourself 10 years from now (12th)

2. Experience, Favorites

The time you want to return to (29th)

Most priced possession (27th)

Most memorable trip (26th)

Most memorable gift you’ve received (21st)

My favorite book (20th)

Favorite place/city (18th)

The thing that you need the most (17th)

My happiness (16th)

Unforgettable memory (14th)

3. Personality

What abilities/skills would like to have? (30th)

What are your strength and weakness? (28th)

What’s your weakness (22nd)

Your (bad) habit that you want to change (15th)

My personality (11th)

So I guess for the first category it will be helpful if we can familiarize ourselves words and with grammar that expresses the future, someone’s wants, desire, wish plans, dreams; grammar for reasoning; tons of adjectives. For the second category it’s will be good to review grammar that expresses past experiences; superlative/comparative adverbs (the best, the most); comparative words and tons of adjectives. And for the third character, it’ll be helpful to be more familiar with adjectives and vocabularies related to positive and negative personalities, characteristics, and habits.

I find the third category the most difficult. I hope the question on Sunday will not fall on that category. Well, I hope that the question on Sunday won’t be from a new category.

Here are the essay questions from the 10th to 28th Intermediate TOPIK papers:

10 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
11 Personality
12 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
13 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
14 Experience, Favorites
15 Personality
16 Experience, Favorites
17 Experience, Favorites
18 Experience, Favorites
19 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
20 Experience, Favorites
21 Experience, Favorites
22 Personality
23 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
24 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
25 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
26 Experience, Favorites
27 Experience, Favorites
28 Personality
29 Experience, Favorites
30 Personality
31 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams


여러분은 취미로 무엇을 배우고 싶습니까? ‘내가 취미로 배우고 싶은 것’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오.단,아래에 제시된 내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다. 취미로 배우고 싶은 것은 무엇인가? (※ 한국어를 배우고 싶다는 내용은 쓰지 마십시오.) 왜 그것을 배우고 싶은가? 그것을 배운 후에 무엇을 하고 싶은가?


여러분은 다른 사람의 능력 중에서 가지고 싶은 능력이 있습니까? ‘내가 가지고싶은 능력’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두 포함 되어야 합니다. 어떤 능력을 가지고 싶은가? 왜 그 능력을 가지고 싶은가? 그 능력이 생기면 무엇을 하고 싶은가?


여러분은 살면서 다시 돌아가 보고 싶은 때가 있습니까? ‘내가 돌아가고 싶은 때’
라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용이 모두 포함되어야
합니다. 언제로 돌아가고 싶은가? 그때로 돌아가고 싶은 이유는 무엇인가? 그때로 돌아가면 무엇을 하고 싶은가?


여러분은 어떤 장점과 단점을 가지고 있습니까? ‘나의 장점과 단점’이라는 제목
으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.
장점은 무엇인가? 장점이 있어서 무엇이 좋은가?
단점은 무엇인가? 단점을 고치기 위해서 어떻게 해야 하는가?


여러분이 소중하게 생각해서 사랑하는 물건은 무엇입니까? ‘내가 가장 아끼는 물건’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.

가장 아끼는 물건은 무엇인가?
왜 그 물건을 아끼는가?
어떻게 그 물건을 가지게 되었는가?

여러분에게 가장 기억에 남는 여행이나 소풍, 나들이는 무엇입니까? 왜 가장
기억에 남습니까? ‘가장 기억에 남는 여행(소풍, 나들이)’이라는 제목으로 글을
쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.

가장 기억에 남는 여행(소풍, 나들이)은 무엇인가?
왜 가장 기억에 남는가?
여러분은 어떤 집에서 살고 싶습니까? 그 이유는 무엇입니까? ‘내가 살고 싶은
집’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두 포함되어야

살고 싶은 집은 어떤 집인가?
왜 그런 집에서 살고 싶은가?

여러분은 10년 후에 어떻게 살고 싶습니까? 그 이유는 무엇입니까? ‘10년 후의
나의 계획’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두
포함되어야 합니다.

10년 후에 어떻게 살고 싶은가?
그 이유는 무엇인가?
무엇을 준비해야 하는가?

여러분은 갖고 싶은 직업이 있습니까? 그 이유는 무엇입니까? ‘갖고 싶은
직업’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두 포함되
어야 합니다.

갖고 싶은 직업은 무엇인가?
그 이유는 무엇인가?
무엇을 준비해야 하는가?

여러분은 단점이나 고치고 싶은 점이 있습니까? 그 이유는 무엇입니까? ‘내가
고쳐야 할 점’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두
포함되어야 합니다.

고치고 싶은 점은 무엇인가?
그 이유는 무엇인가?
그 점을 고치기 위해서 어떻게 해야 하는가?

여러분이 받은 선물 중에 가장 기억에 남는 것은 무엇이었습니까? ‘기억에 남는
선물’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용이 모두 포함
되어야 합니다.

어떤 선물입니까?
그 선물은 누구한테서, 언제 받았습니까?
그 선물이 왜 기억에 남습니까?

‘내가 좋아하는 책’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용이
모두 포함되어야 합니다.

가장 좋아하는 책은 무엇인가?
그 책은 어떤 내용인가?
그 책을 좋아하는 이유는 무엇인가?
여러분은 어떤 사람처럼 되고 싶습니까? 왜 그 사람처럼 되고 싶습니까?
‘내가 닮고 싶은 사람’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용
이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.
닮고 싶은 사람은 누구인가?
왜 그 사람처럼 되고 싶은가?
그 사람처럼 되기 위해서 어떻게 해야 하는가?

여러분이 좋아하는 도시는 어디입니까? 왜 그곳을 좋아합니까? 여러분이 좋아
하는 도시나 지금 살고 있는 곳을 소개해 보십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용이
모두 포함되어야 합니다.
도시의 이름과 위치, 유명한 것, 소개하는 이유

여러분에게 가장 필요한 물건은 무엇입니까? 어떤 물건이며 왜 그 물건이 필요
합니까? ‘가장 필요한 물건’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된
내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.
가장 필요한 물건이 무엇인가?
왜 그 물건이 필요한가?
그 물건을 얻기 위해 무엇을 해야 하는가?

‘내가 생각하는 행복’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오
언제 행복하다고 느꺼는가?
행복은 무엇이라고 생각하는가?
행복을 위해서 어떤 노력을 하는가?

여러분은 늦잠을 자거나 누워서 책을 보는 것과 같은 고치고 싶은 생활 습관이 있습니까? ‘고치고 싶은 나의 생활 습관’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오.
나의 나쁜 생활 습관
습관 떄문에 생기는 불편하거나 안 좋은 점
습관을 고치기 위해 해야 할 일

잊지 못할 추억
어떤 추억인가?
왜 지금까지 기억에 남아 있는가?
언제 그 추억이 떠오르는가?

꼭 만나 보고 싶은 사람
만나고 싶은 사람 소개, 만나고 싶은 이유, 만나면 하고 싶은 말이나 일

10년 후의 나의 모습’이라는 제목으로 글을 써 보십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된
내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.
일의 내용, 일의 의미와 가치, 현재의 나의 노력

‘나의 성격’이라는 제목으로 글을 써 보십시오.
성격의 특징, 장점과 단점, 고치고 싶은 부분과 그 이유

갖고 싶은 직업
직업명, 하는 일, 그 일을 하려는 이유, 그 일에 필요한 조건

TOPIK Essay Writing Strategies

A lot of those who’ve taken the Intermediate TOPIK said that the writing part is the most difficult is usually the sole reason why they fail. I’d still say that the reading part is still the most difficult for me however, on worst case scenario, I can always guess my way out of the gruesome reading part if my brain decides to shut down due to highfalutin word overload. But one could not do a “어느 것을 고를까요? 알아 맞춰보세요. 딩동댕!” on the blank squares of the essay writing paper.

My weakest points in answering the intermediate essay are 1.) staying away from the safe beginner grammar; 2.) time management; and 3.) making the essay long enough to reach at least 400 characters. For #1 and #2 I know it needs practice, practice and more practice. But for # 3, I’ve come up with some strategies that I would like to share. Please note though that I have no idea whether these strategies would work in terms of scores since it will be my first time to take the intermediate exam. But I think it’s also important to be able to write at least 400 characters. I hope that I can help those who are also struggling in filling out all the blank squares on the essay paper or maybe others can come up with their own strategies as well after reading mine.

How I prolong my essay for TOPIK Intermediate:

1. Kim Sun Ah. I relate everything with Kim Sun Ah. I always attempt to find a connection with Kim Sun Ah. Most memorable trip? A trip to Taiwan to meet Kim Sun Ah. Most prized possession? A gift from Kim Sun Ah. Dream job? To be a drama director and work with Kim Sun Ah. Favorite book? My Name Is Kim Sam Soon. Who I want to be like? Kim Sun Ah. Happiest moment? When I met Kim Sun Ah. Why? Well of course being her fan, it’s more interesting to write about her. But the real reason – it’s worth about a hundred characters already in introducing Kim Sun Ah, saying I’ve been a long time fan and why I like her. I’ve already prepared canned sentences in correct grammar (and words with correct spelling) explaining things about Kim Sun Ah.


My most prized possession is a pair of gloves I received from Korean actress Kim Sun Ah. Kim Sun Ah played the lead character from the phenomenal drama My Name Is Kim Sam Soon that aired in Korea last summer 2005. I’ve been a fan of Kim Sun Ah for a long time now not just because she is pretty and versatile but also because she has a warm heart and she treats her fans well. I received the gloves from her during….

My most memorable trip was my trip to Taiwan two years ago. I went there to attend a fan meeting of Korean actress Kim Sun Ah. Kim Sun Ah played the lead character from the phenomenal drama My Name Is Kim Sam Soon that aired in Korea last summer 2005. I’ve been a fan of Kim Sun Ah for a long time now not just because she is pretty and versatile but also because she has a warm heart and she treats her fans well. So when I heard that she’ll have a fan meeting in Taiwan, I decided to go…

My happiest moment is when I met Korean actress Kim Sun Ah. Kim Sun Ah played the lead character from the phenomenal drama My Name Is Kim Sam Soon that aired in Korea last summer 2005. I’ve been a fan of Kim Sun Ah for a long time now not just because she is pretty and versatile but also because she has a warm heart and she treats her fans well. I met her for the first time in…

I think this strategy could work well on questions regarding past experiences.

2. When I was a kid… and Recycling I actually learned this from a good friend and a fellow TOPIK taker. He often starts with “When I was a kid”. I usually use this strategy for questions about things you want/desire in the future (and I think it could work well with personality-related questions). What I do, I’ll usually start by describing what it was like when I was a kid – “…we are not well-off”. Then “…because of that I have vividly pictured what kind of house I want when I grow up/what kind of job I want/what I want to be.” Then I will describe what I want in detail. Then I’ll say “…but when I grew older I realized _____ is the most important thing”. Then I will “recycle” the previous sentences I’ve composed by repeating the details mentioned at the beginning and say that I don’t care about them anymore and restate what I want now.


I grew up from a poor family. Our house is old, small and I have to share my room with my brothers and sisters (big lie!). So ever since I was a kid I’ve already vividly pictured my dream house. Of course I want a really big two-storey house with a garden an attic and a garage for my own car. The ceilings will be high and it’ll be bright and colorful. It would be really nice if the sunlight and the breeze can enter well (sic). And I can enjoy a breathtaking view whenever I look outside the window. I will also have a big room of my own. But when I grew older, I realized that the most important thing is being able to live with the people you love under one roof. (recycling starts here!) So now it doesn’t matter if I’ll only have a bungalow in the future. Even if there’s no garden or attic or a garage it’ll be just fine. I can always share my room to anyone. No matter how simple our house will be as long as I am with my loved ones it’ll be the best house for me. (For how can you write about your dream house in 400-600 characters!!!)

Ever since I was a kid I have already pictured what I want to be in the future. I want to have a good paying job that I enjoy. I want to have a big house of my own. I will drive my own car. I’ll meet a really handsome, rich and gorgeous man and marry him. But now that I’ve grown older, I realized that the most important thing is blah blah blah. So it doesn’t matter whether I’ll have a good-paying job or not. A small apartment would do. I can take public transportation. And even if I won’t meet a rich handsome gorgeous guy it will be okay. As long as blah blah blah blah.

I also remind myself that truthfulness is not part of the score. I’m always tempted to answer the essay questions as truthful and honest as possible because the questions are almost always all too personal. But how can I compose a 400-character essay on how I see myself 10 years from now if I don’t even know what I want to do uhm… next year? The essays actually don’t have to be true. You can always make up stories anyway. So be creative.

Cramming for TOPIK

About 36 hours before my TOPIK Intermediate exam and I still think I am not ready for it. Although I attended a weekly review session with our dear 선생님 along with fellow 중급 takers, I wasn’t able to study much on my own outside those review sessions. I thought I could do some serious studying a week before the exam (after all it’s our 방학) but I ended up having to do remaining works on my subjects despite the supposed ‘vacation’ time.

So here I am, trying to cram everything in the next 36 hours. Of course I have to sleep, eat (okay, I can review while eating), do some volunteer activities, meet a friend, revise a wedding invitation, watch my dramas, memorize my new favorite 짝사랑 song, think about (and hopefully talk with) my crush and finish my readings on Korean linguistics (in Korean!!!) within those 36 hours too.

Yesterday I almost gave up. Not the i-will-not-take-the-test-anymore kind of giving up but a i-know-i-will-never-ever-pass-who-am-i-kidding kind of giving up. But we had a mock exam and I managed to pass Level 3 somehow (though there were some ‘cheatings’ involved like a previously reviewed section and an extended writing time plus a lot of luck on my guesses). My scores were too low that one or two mistakes could easily make me fail Level 3 but it kinda gave me some hope that, maybe… just maybe, if I study a bit more in the remaining hours I might be able to pass Level 3 at least.

Actually aside from personal satisfaction, there are really no pressing and urgent reasons to pass the exam. It’s not like I will not graduate if I’ll fail. It’s not even required if I will be applying for a scholarship. 그래도 성공하고 싶어요. Also I want to make our dear 선생님 happy. She exerted so much effort in reviewing us despite the fact that she is not getting paid for it and she’s equally busy with her work, study, volunteer activity and her upcoming wedding (and despite the fact that most of us, at one point or another, have ditched a review session, or dozed off during review, or pretended understanding the discussion even if our brains have shut down). I know that all she wants is for us to do our best and try taking the exam and passing or failing is not important. But still, I’m sure she’ll be happier and proud if we’ll pass.

So, I’m gonna cram as much as I can in the next few hours. Good luck to everyone taking the exam on Sunday! A shoutout to sydneytoseoul who’s currently cramming for TOPIK as well. 우리 화이팅!

My Highs and Lows in Learning Korean

There are times when I feel so happy and “fulfilled” with my Korean. Like when I was able to successfully organize an event using only Korean. Or when I managed to have a decent, spontaneous and continuous conversation with Korean friends. Or when I can translate the things I read. Or when I can understand big chunks of my dramas or movies without realizing that my subtitles were turned off. Or even the simple things like recognizing a word I recently learned from something I read or heard. Just like a few days ago. I was watching a Korean movie in a cinema (during the Korean Film Fest) and I picked up 자세한 from the dialogue. 자세하다! 자세! I know that word! I just learned that from the TOPIK paper I was answering. I want to shout out loud that I know that freakin’ word!

But there are also times when I feel so frustrated it feels like (1) my efforts are going nowhere OR (2) that I will never ever improve OR (3) BOTH! And it’s usually something that will surface after a good “high”. Like last summer, just when I thought I was improving big time, I sat down in a drinking session with Korean friends and I ended up not understanding a thing they were saying. I barely talked that evening and just munched on the 안주 and drink all night but I was so tired afterwards because of my failed attempts of understanding the conversation. When will I be able to understand such kind of “free-conversation”?

And today, I am at my lowest perhaps. I spent hours each day for the past couple of weeks untangling TOPIK papers – learning new words and grammar points every day. Yet when I sat on our TOPIK review class today I barely understood anything from the 26th TOPIK paper! I highlighted words that I do not know and underlined all grammar points that are not familiar with me. Unknown words appeared one after the other until I almost highlighted the entire paragraph. As expected, I can’t understand anything. Our professor explains to us difficult words and grammar points but the thing is there are more words and grammar points on the material that I do not know so I still end up not understanding anything. I am also overwhelmed with the so many words I don’t know yet that even if words I have learned already appears, I can’t recognize them any longer. The fact that most of the members of the review class were really good since most of them have studied and stayed in Korea for at least a year doesn’t make it any better. It makes me feel all the more frustrated because they can understand more than what I can and they can express their thoughts verbally. I feel exasperated looking at my TOPIK papers. Will I’ll be able to learn all these things?

Times like this, I’d like to remind myself that a few years ago I can’t even read Hangeul; that a couple of years ago I can’t even introduce myself properly; that  last year I can’t even get more than 50 points in the vocabulary & grammar section of TOPIK.

Nonetheless, being lost in our review class and seeing my TOPIK papers almost covered in pink highlights makes me frustrated. I know I must work hard. Harder. But first, I need to get myself out of this 한국어 depression.

Unlocking Intermediate TOPIK Papers 2: Plus my newfound way to study grammar and vocabs

As I’ve mentioned on my previous post Unlocking Intermediate TOPIK Papers, I’ve changed my TOPIK review style and now I don’t just read the questions and correct answers and settle with the list of new grammar patterns and vocabs I encounter. I now search each item on Naver dictionary and read (and note down) many sample sentences per grammar pattern/vocab. And then I review them.

It’s not too long ago since I started doing this strategy and I’m terribly busy with school so I actually haven’t progressed a lot – as far as the number of pages of TOPIK exam is concerned (I’m just on the 6th page of my first paper!). But I did progress a lot! When I review the pages I have studied, I can perfectly understand everything now. Unlike before when all I can do is pinpoint the correct answers just because I have memorized what’s the correct answer. I also find the succeeding pages easier to answer because I have learned a lot from the previous pages/items.

And today, out of boredom (and probably missing my Suna Unnie) I discovered a little crazy idea. I thought why not try googling 김선아 and the new grammar pattern / vocab I’m learning.

And low and behold! News articles about Kim Sun Ah appeared on the search result one after another – with the new pattern/vocab I’m studying highlighted!  And what’s making it more fun is the fact that almost all of the articles (or at least the top 5 or so results) were articles I have opened/read before; or articles I’ve read translated in English on some fan sites; OR articles I have translated myself (or at least attempted to translate) for Suna Unnie’s English-speaking fans. It makes the recall easier!

I don’t have any worries that it will distract me either. Though I’m a big fan of Kim Sun Ah, long Korean articles scare me since I probably can’t understand more than half of it anyway. Plus I don’t really have to open the articles all the time because almost everything I need is already in the short excerpt appearing on the search result page.

Then, I thought why not do it on Kim Sun Ah’s dramas too? So, I compiled the scripts of my top 3 favorite Kim Sun Ah dramas into one html file (color-coded by drama) and open it on my browser and Ctrl+F my way to the grammar pattern/vocab I’m learning! I’ve been doing this for quite sometime – looking for words in Kim Sun Ah’s dramas, but only when I recall a particular scene where whatever I’m studying was used. And it’s quite time consuming to search one episode at a time. Ha! Why have I not thought of compiling it into one file before?

Anyway I’m glad with these two new strategies! And will definitely gonna stick with it – not only for TOPIK preparation!

*Urgh! Don’t know what’s wrong with me today, but I think I wrote quite sloppily on this post… probably due to tons of papers I’m trying to finish writing – all my writing skills (if any) seeped out of my system. But anyway, I’m just eager to share (to anyone who stumbles upon my blog, if there’s any) and hopefully can give ideas to other Korean learners looking for new learning strategies.

Unlocking Intermediate TOPIK Papers

I took the beginner TOPIK last 2010. Despite getting a grade 2, the intermediate TOPIK is still difficult for me. Unlike for the beginner TOPIK, I don’t have a textbook for the intermediate TOPIK. I borrowed one book before – KLPT Intermediate (and I liked it), but I think I’d rather go straight to the TOPIK papers instead. When I attempted to take the intermediate TOPIK last year, all I did was:

1.) answer the questions on my own

10% of the questions I understood perfectly; 40% of which are guesswork (relying heavily on context clues and the process of elimination); 50% of which were based purely on luck (♬ 어느 것을 고를까요? 알아 맞춰보세요. 딩동댕! ♬).

2.) check and mark the correct answers

3.) look for unfamiliar words in the dictionary and jot down the meaning.

4.) read the questions over and over (urgh!).

I think I end up not really learning anything. So this time I changed my TOPIK study style.

1.) Answer the questions on my own (still relying heavily on guesswork and luck O.o).

2.) Check and mark the correct answers.

3.) Go over each item and note the grammar patterns and words that I am not familiar with.

3.a) For unfamiliar words: I wrote them down, then search it on Naver Dictionary and now, I don’t just stop on checking the definition, but I also read and copy as many sample sentences as I deemed enough, and then write sentences on my own. And as I review the words on my notebook, I don’t just read the definition, but I also read the sentences I wrote and I try creating impromptu sentences using that word.

3.b) For unfamiliar grammar: I search the pattern first on Korean Grammar Database. I wrote down the explanation and the 2 or 3 sample sentences. Since Korean Grammar Database is not a textbook, there’s not much explanation about the grammar and the sample sentences are very limited. So, afterwards, I go to Naver Dictionary and search for the grammar pattern (and sometimes I pair it with words), then sentences that will appear on the search result. And I write them down and I also try creating sentences on my own. Sometimes I also freely google the patterns/words just to see how people use them on say news, or personal blogs, or twitter.

I’m learning a lot with this method and I find it easier to remember the words and grammar patterns. I even find it addicting to “unlock” those difficult sentences on the TOPIK exams! 🙂 I’m also loving Naver Dictionary more now.

*Nibbling on some chocolates to keep myself awake! Too sleepy today, I don’t know why… O.o

Cramming for TOPIK

Due to unexpected HEAVY load this semester, I didn’t get to prepare for the upcoming TOPIK. Nonetheless, as advised by my dear 선생님 I’m still gonna take it – for the sake of taking it. LOL

I’m not expecting – and not even wishing to pass the 조급 level 3.

So far I’ve only reviewed 2 pages of the grammar part of a previous exam. And has joined one review session completing one listening and listening to explanation on chosen numbers of the grammar part.

I feel bad because I realized that I really really wanted to prepare for it. But I really don’t have time either…

But during the one and only review session that I attended, I was so happy. There were items that I get to answer correctly because of words, expressions and grammar I learned while watching my current drama addiction, Scent Of A Woman. There were also new words that I learned during the review that I have encountered on the drama as well. And it does makes me feel so excited!

I know one week wouldn’t make much of a difference. I’m sure I won’t pass (though I passed the listening part during our review class – but I swear I just guessed most of it). But I’ll try to learn as many as I can this week. I borrowed a book (KLPT Topik 대비서 – 중급) that I’ll be “browsing”. But I’ll be taking a copy of it because I find it a really fun book to read and study. It’s my first time to study a Korean book without any English (apart from the few grammar explanations).

I’m so excited and so happy. I don’t know why Korean makes me feel this way.