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Not Speaking Korean in Korea

January 21, 2013


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So we know this video was about people who don’t speak Korean at all, but we’re going to use the blog post as a chance to talk about our feelings of how much Korean we speak and where we want to go from here. Basically, we’re really torn about where we should take our development of the Korean language from this point. It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time and maybe having some of your input would be beneficial:

Basically, our Korean now is at the point that we can get by in this country perfectly fine. When we leave our apartment and interact with the world, we don’t speak English unless someone speaks English to us. Oftentimes it’s a Korean person who will speak English to us, but we insist on speaking Korean back so they don’t feel uncomfortable and forced into speaking English. We want to keep on practicing our usage of it in the real world. We appreciate people’s consideration for speaking English to us, for sure, but the irony is we’re trying to practice our Korean while they’re finally getting to use English after being forced to study it in school. It’s almost like being a Canadian in that sense. We both grew up learning French since we were little kids, but it felt so awkward since there was no conversations taking place in French outside of Quebec. It often felt like, why am I learning to speak French? And then your teachers and parents would insist that it’s because it will help you get a better job, like with the government where everyone MUST be bilingual. So once you finally go to Montreal (or somewhere in Quebec) you’re so damn excited/horrified to finally use your 10+ years of French–only to be greeted by French-English speakers that can see your horrific French accent so decide to switch to English. NOOOOoooOOOoooOOOoooOOOoooOOooo! I failed you French language learning! Anyhoo, the long point is, we understand when our Korean friends don’t want to speak Korean with us because they really want to practice their 10+ years of English studying.

We’ve digressed here. The point is, we think the whole reason why someone should learn the language in a country is for communication. It’s so that you don’t go into a shop and expect everyone to speak your foreign language. It’s so that you can go to a restaurant and easily read and order what you want, and hold light friendly conversations. The more of a language you learn, the easier it is for you to communicate, and the more ideas you can get across to someone else. In our case, we have basic communication down. We can order anything we need at restaurants, ask for everything we need at supermarkets and shops, tell taxis where to go, ask for directions, all that. But we can’t have deeeeep discussions. We can’t talk politics or religion. We can’t tell you what Spudgy did to that teddy bear in the park (you don’t want to know what he did to that teddy bear in the park). We’re not fluent or 100% conversational, but we’re perfectly functional to the point that our local shops think that we ARE fluent speakers. It also helps that we can understand Korean, so even though our responses are basic, we’re still communicating.

So, the question we often face is why don’t we learn MORE Korean. We live in Korea, we plan on living here more, so why not become super fluent? Well, there are a few factors for us to consider.

From a very honest personal standpoint, we don’t need to. Totally honestly, majority of the people that we know that have become or are trying to become fluent in Korean have a Korean love interest, or want to have one. NOT THAT THIS IS TRUE OF EVERYONE. Everybody has their own reason for learning Korean, but the reasons that we see most predominantly in people’s attempt to learn the language don’t apply to us. If learning a language is to communicate, we are not interested in communicating deeply, as one would in a significant relationship. The communication we want to do we can do perfectly fine.

Don’t get me wrong: if we were single and trying to get a significant Korean other, then we’d be all about learning Korean. But, we’re already married and we don’t go out that much, because we spend so much time editing and filming. We’re with each other all the time, talking to each other all the time. More importantly, our Korean friends speak English as well, and want us to speak English with them all the time, because this is their chance to practice it when they otherwise don’t have many opportunities to do so. So from our personal perspective, learning Korean won’t really do that much for us.

There’s something special about being in a language bubble. Seriously: when we go back to Canada, we’re overwhelmed by everything around us. The first couple of days back our eyes dart from side to side to read all the signs. Every conversation that passes us by we think is directed at us, and we turn around. It’s amazing how overwhelmed we get. We get headaches from it, really. But coming back to Korea, even though Seoul’s such a bustling city, we feel a sense of calm and peace. We can appreciate it in our silent bubble, in our thoughts. We’re not drowned out by noise and advertising. It’s really a state of being that we’ve come to love.

I feel cheesy in saying this, but the movie “Lost in Translation” kinda captures a glorious experience of not being fluent in a language. To us, there’s nothing wrong with feeling lost. There’s something special in the experience of confusion. It’s hard to explain, but it’s enjoyable. We’ve become adequate in Korean while we’ve been here, but the couple of times we’ve been in Japan, we remembered just how great it is to be totally lost like we were when we first moved to Korea. Going to a counter, not knowing whether to say yes, hai, neh, or tak, oui, si: there’s a thrill in that. It’s not a thrill like hang-gliding, but it takes you out of your comfort zone, and – in doing so – makes you rethink you comfort zone, and appreciate the fact that there’s a whole world happening around you that you not only know next to nothing about but also doesn’t revolve around you and your experience, and that’s a very worthwhile experience to have.

Ok, that might have sounded weird. But those are some points that really keep us from wanting to learn any more Korean. There are a couple more things that get in our way as well, mainly, learning Korean is really bloody hard. Really really FREAKING really. We know people who have taken the intensive Korean study program for over a year. Intensive, as in, full-time course-load. Going to class and doing homework everyday. Not having any other job. Just…studying. And they got very proficient in Korean, but still not fluent. And it’s frustratingly difficult for them to get to the point of fluency. Not that it’s impossible, mind you, but – from our perspectives – they put in very much work into it and aren’t fluent.

So our question is this: how much time do we have to put into studying Korean until we’re fluent? We run a site that calls us into work everyday. We don’t have days off. We work from morning to night. When can we fit in an intensive language study program, really? How long will it take for us, giving up our few precious spare moments of time when we just want to shut off after working all day, where we want to just relax and not strain ourselves anymore—how long will it take for us to sacrifice those few moments for us to achieve fluency in Korean? Is it worth it for us to sacrifice those moments for years? Will what we gain from Korean fluency be worth the sacrifice?

This is a hard post to write. People will combat by saying “But you should be perfectly fluent or make the effort to do so out of respect for Korea!” But aren’t we doing a lot of that already? We made a website out of it. We’ve provided jobs for others out of it. Aren’t we already trying everyday to show the world, through our videos, how much fun we’re having here, how much we like the place, how you should come here too, how fun we find the music, how interesting we find the indie scene, how much we like the food? Aren’t we already paying our respects to Korea everyday?

Oh God, this post is getting too long. I’m sorry for rambling for so long. This is just something we feel really guilty about, and it’s something we grapple with every week. We come home after a late night, and think to ourselves that this is when we should study Korean so that we could stop feeling guilty, but we really just want to say “guilt be damned! Let us rest!” Let us know your thoughts. Is there something we’re missing out on here? This post is highly personal, we know, and it doesn’t apply to everybody. There are paragraphs we wrote and paragraphs we deleted, but there’s so much more we can say about this. People learn languages for different reasons, we know, than just the ones we listed above, and I’m sure there are good reasons to learn the language, and – no – we’re not telling you to not learn Korean. Learn Korean if you want to. Don’t learn it if you don’t want to. We, personally, are just torn as to what we want to do.



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Not Speaking Korean in Korea


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  1. I’ve found that many people in Korea act rudely towards English speakers. Have you guys ever had experiences with having to deal with old grumpies?

    7 years ago
  2. i’ve heard from japanese friends that korea is really japanese-friendly and that there are a lot of shop, hotels, este places etc. that actually speak japanese. cuz so many japanese people don’t even speak english at all when they go abroad… faaaaaail…. T_T

    but as for what you were talking about in the post, it’s pretty much the same here in japan, except for the fact that kanji is $%&$%’%@$!!! difficult to learn so you can learn to speak japanese well enough to get by, but reading’s another story. even now after living here 4 years, i’ve got the literacy skills of a 1st grader, which is really sad. i can chat away with any shop clerk that decides to strike up a conversation with me, but ask me to read a magazine or something? forget it… -_-

    7 years ago
  3. I have to say, this TL;DR hit a little close to home for me.

    I’m currently living and working Japan as an english teacher, just like you guys. This is my second time around (thank you very so much Great Recession) and one of my goals before I came back was to finally ‘master’ what I call ‘Pretty Japanese’ i.e. grammatically correct and properly pronounced. Like you, I am pretty dang functional in daily life. I can go about my daily life with little hassle, communicate with my students if I need to (even though I’m not really supposed to) and talk to my co-workers and boss about anything I need or any questions I have. I consider myself functional in Japanese in that I my daily life is not egregiously effected by my lack of skills.

    But I am in no way fluent. I know a total of 200-300 kanji. I cannot properly use particles to save my life. My vocabulary is terribly lacking and don’t even get me started on my ability to read. >_<# I really thought that this time (because I live in literally the smallest village in Hokkaido with less than 800 people.) I would be forced to become fluent because no one would speak any english. And to my disappointment, that hasn't happened. My co-teachers are excellent english speakers and since there's nobody in the village under 65, there's not a lot of things to do. Sure, I could spend all my free time trying to learn japanese but is that really what I want to do? Do I really need to learn the proper way to conjugate keigo?

    Of course the upside of what I call 'functionally fluent' i.e. you have no problem reading magazines, advertising and carrying a conversation, even a deep one, is that Japan and her culture would open up to me in a way that I just can't make it with my 200 piddly kanji and my inability to properly connect two sentences together with 'ga'. I would be able to understand song lyrics, magazines and so many things that just look so cool and interesting and are just sooo out of reach. I know the 'silence' that you're talking about, when your brain shuts off the language center and things cease to be words and letters and just become graphic shapes. And I can understand the loud cacophony of returning home and suddenly ENGLISH IS EVERYWHERE and the desire to keep Korea free of that. The 'silence' can be lovely.

    In the end, I applaud you for the bravery and guts it has taken to put something so honest and raw out there (i'm referring to your blog post here. The TL;DR is in this same vein but not quite the same issue.). Only you two can decide how far you want to take your learning. I'm going to do my best to chase down 'Pretty Japanese' and beat it into submission with my clumsy particle use but that's my choice. If you are happy where you are, stay there. But if you're not, if you really do feel that you need a higher level of korean fluency for your personal happiness and the financial success of EYK (which I would not disagree with) then I think you need to treat it not as a hobby, something you do in your precious and rare free time, but it should be scheduled into your working hours. I know you're busy filming and editing and writing but this is why you hire employees. They take some of the load off you so that you can pursue other goals that will help your business expand. Add Korean lessons into your work schedule, budget that time and budget the money for them (or if you're the self study sort, then just budget the time). You might even be able to include it as a tax write up since it's integral to your work, which is talking about songs and videos sung in Korean, by Koreans, for Koreans. Yes, their audience is global but until they come out with EXO-E and Super Junior-E for English I can't see how upping your Korean language skills could hurt and I think in the end, it can only help.

    Obviously you cannot become fluent by next thursday and probably not even by next year and I really don't think it's something that needs to be done RIGHT NOW but I think it's something that you should consider for your future and the future of EYK. I love your work and I admire chutzpah it takes to start up a business in another country where you are not bi-lingual in or even at a college level of fluency. Those are some cast iron…bananas. I think your entrepreneurial spirit should be applauded. EYK is a wonderful site and it keeps improving day by day. I can't wait to see what it turns into a week, a month, a year and even a decade from now. EYK FIGHTING!

    7 years ago
  4. that’s awesome! :D i would have freaked out too (i also speak Spanish) It would probably make me cry because then I would get homesick lol

    7 years ago
  5. It has always been my belief that if you choose to live in another country you should learn the language. I’m not speaking about knowing the mother tongue fluently. I’m talking about being able to go out and function on a daily basis. Getting around town, shopping, eating, you know daily use conversation. I personally think it is respectful of the community you live in, exactly the way you guys have described your Korean fluency. I applaud that greatly and hope that if I ever choose to move to Korea or Italy like I dream of, then I would learn the language of that country. I wish everyone who moved to a new country had that mentality. It’s okay to move to a country and not know the language, however, I only think this is okay if you plan to learn enough of the language to function once you arrive their.

    It should never be presumed that everyone speaks our language, and no one should ever insist that they should speak our language when we can’t speak theirs in their own country. Hope that wasn’t to preachy.

    7 years ago
  6. If you’re in touristy (or just Itaewon) places not speaking Korean isn’t much of an issue as there is always someone who will want to speak English.
    However there are some situations where English is not a gimme such as; at the hair salon, at the bank and as you mentioned in taxis. These situations 9 times out of 10 require Korean, unless you research places before hand that speak English (Facebook, Couch surfer & Waygook are good places).
    Also many Koreans can understand English but can’t speak it, so if you speak slowly and clearly you should be OK.

    7 years ago
  7. When I was in Seoul over the summer I noticed that there were a lot of foreigners. Even though I’m Korean, I was born in the United States so I’m not completely fluent in the language… buuut I still got by because like Simon & Martina said, there’s English translations on a lot of signs/places. :)

    7 years ago
  8. I think I’d have to agree with you guise here – the time required to become fluent Korean speakers is a bit intense. (I’m a first year Korean student >.< 화이팅!) However, I do think there are many…*unique* words that your quirky, awesome selves may be interested in learning or even sharing with us as you guise look into expanding upon your Korean abilities. For example, false cognates such as "복잡하다" (to be complicated, complex or crowded); unfortunately, it doesn't have anything to do with a "pork chop". :)

    7 years ago
  9. i was just in Korea not to long ago for winter break and I thought that Seoul was very English friendly. I loved it but I did spend most of my time in Mokpo which is way south and I did have a hard time. If it wasn’t for my Korean boyfriend I would have died. The smaller the city the less English is used, although I did still find signs and stuff in English but no one working there really knew English. Either way it was a great time and I just love Korea

    7 years ago
  10. Hi Simon & Martina,

    I really like the video and the blog post – I think languages are really important, especially in the way that they allow you to communicate with a whole other set of people with a different culture. Having said that, I don’t think you need to be university-level in terms of your grammar or be able to discuss politics in that language. I’ve lived in another country as a 17 year old for a year (on exchange) and I learnt Finnish to a level that could probably be described as functional, but the good thing is that when having a conversation I can always stop and ask how to say something. However, I’ve also studied Italian at university for two years. My Italian grammar is pretty good (it’s also a lot easier than Finnish) but actually stringing a conversation together is really difficult because all we get taught is the grammar really. So in many ways I would say my Finnish is well in front of my Italian in terms of fluency and actually being useful. So, I guess my advice is not to stress and just pick up the language day-by-day when you’re out talking to people – and don’t be guilty! :D

    7 years ago
  11. Hi~ I was wondering what the medical world was like in Korea. I was looking for overseas jobs as a nurse but there aren’t any in Korea because apparently the social structure of the medical world is different. Also, do hospitals/clinics work the same as they do in North America? I watched a drama where a girl got her appendix out and she had stitches, but we don’t really do stitches for an appendectomy in America anymore. I know you two don’t work in a hospital or anything, but maybe you know someone who does or can talk about your experience with hospitals/clinics. Sorry this is so wordy! ^^;;;

    7 years ago
  12. Right this might seem very lazy but it seems like this might be the right place to ask: Is there a guide, like a lonely planet or what have you for Korea. I really want to visit South Korea but I want to know where I am going and what I am doing. So I would like to know of places that are friendly for English speaking people.

    I will be going alone and I wouldn’t want to end up in a gutter in the middle of nowhere in either the country-side or somewhere in Seoul suburbia. Crying until a Korean family would adopt me and raise me as their way too old son until I had such a grasp of the language that I could finally return (or get directions to the Dutch embassy) And I would like to know what food I would be ordering instead of pointing at something on a menu and hoping it will be good.

    So if anyone has a good link for me. And I know Simon and Martina did a lot of W.A.N.K.s and FAPFAPs but I would feel more secure with somewhat of a map and/or knowing if it is foreigner friendly. If I ended up in the forest like they did when they were looking for the coffeeplace I would be screwed lol. And it would allow me to plan ahead.

    I would rather have one good link and/or book than having to go through a lot of crappy ones.

    7 years ago
  13. I think that, since you are living there and immersed in the culture, listening to Korean music and using the language every day, you are past the point of having to consciously try to improve your language skills. In my oppinion, it is impossible for you NOT to pick up new stuff, be it vocabulary, expressions and so on. You already work your buts off and you deserve each moment of rest you have. I think that, as long as you go outside once in a while, your Korean will improve on a natural acquisition-through-immersion basis.

    7 years ago
  14. I only went to Korea once, with my Japanese bf for a 3-day-vacation. I remember sitting in the underground when the door opened and two middle-aged ladies stepped in. They saw me and came over to me immediately, standing in front of my seat. They were talking to me in Korean for about twenty seconds when they noticed the uncomprehending dumb expression on my face and showed me a card they had around their necks. It was an invitation written in English for an international party that weekend. I somehow was really touched being invited to a foreigner party (although also a tiny bit freaked out), but when I tried to tell them that we couldn’t come because we were leaving the next day, they couldn’t understand it (neither in English nor in Japanese) and left disappointed when I was just shaking my head. So I felt I really have to learn a bit Korean before the next vacation :)

    7 years ago
  15. Are Korean dramas popular in Korea? I know that there are a lot of K-dramas that air in a week’s time, and I was like~ do people in Korea even have time to watch all those? Coz like one episode usually takes one hour to watch. I watch kdramas and sometimes it’s really hard to keep up with all the new dramas coming out. There are K-dramas that become really popular outside Korea and on the internet, but how do Koreans really respond to K-drama?

    7 years ago
  16. Hi Simon and Martina! :) I would love the “Cheese Lady’s not a STRANGER!”T-shirt too! :D
    Anyhow…I can’t really give you advice about korean language. I just started to learn a little bit, I don’t know how difficult it is…but I did studied quite a few languages(4/5)….What do you mean by getting fluent? From your blog I have understood you would like to be as much as korean pro, not native but almost…..From what I know and experience…maybe if a person is in Korea, for like a year and he/she speaks korean all day long, not speaking his/her native language at all. Ok, probably he/she is gonna be ALMOST native. But one of my friend that did that for a year(and arrived to the point of changing accent on her mother tongue!!) as she passed a few months back in Italy(home),she already felt like losing the fluency she reached.

    So from my point of view in your shoes, I would like to learn more, and I think that probably you would like too, if you feel guilty sometime. So…..
    1. one thing that helps is having a diary( I CAN NOT imagine Simon writing a diary!!), trying to write stuff you actually don’t know how to talk about yet(and then you can ask your korean friend to check it). For example write your opinion about something, or try to talk about it together in korean. But doing a little amount everyday is what works best(that’s what my professors ALWAYYYYYYS tell me).

    2. maybe during lunch? You can talk about different topics. Try to challenge yourself about thing you don’t know.

    But of course that’s what I would do…and I don’t really know what you feel is more problematic for you….you were teachers so of course you are much more qualified to give tips about language learning!

    I just think that you probably are too busy to get full-time course and that it may just discourage you to learn more….and plus you learned already a lot without a course so, go on! Small little things everyday work the best!! Fighting!!

    7 years ago
  17. Simon and Martina, obviously you are making the most sensible decision. We already know how long and hard you guys work and it is not fair for you to have to use what little free time you have to learn a difficult language, which as you already pointed out you don’t even have to. I can’t believe people would say you have to learn the language out of respect for Korea. I’m korean and I am so thankful to you guys for making these videos about Korea in the first place. You didn’t have to and you could have gone back to Canada or gone to Japan but you didn’t and for that I say thanks. 사이먼 앤드 마티나 화이팅!!

    7 years ago
  18. I quite understand what you’re talking about in your post. As a french studient i had to learn 2 foreign languages. I took english and
    spanish. Now I’m trying to speak fluently english because i like this language and I love having the feeling to understand foreign people. On the contrary spanish isn’t as fun to learn (no offense just my opinion) that’s why i didn’t and still don’t put so much effort in it. I can understand it and speak enough of it to ask and respond few basic things. I don’t want to try harder. As long as i can communicate I’m fine. Anyway i liked your TL:DR this week

    7 years ago
  19. I think you’ve captured the essence of languages perfectly here, and I can totally understand why you guys can’t commit to intense Korean study. I speak 5 languages (grew up with 2, learned 3 later), and whenever I bring up the fact that I do speak 5 languages, they ask: Why? For me, languages are a way into exciting new worlds full of interesting people and experiences that you would never have experienced had you not learned the language. I think the prospect of a richer, and fulfilling life is worth all the work that you put into it. (And believe me, there is A LOT of work that you have to put in.) I’d encourage everyone to try to pick up at least a few phrases and words in another language- trust me, it’ll be worth it. :)

    7 years ago
  20. Hmmm. I feel like since you are proficient enough in Korean to get by and communicate then that is fine. If your goal was like you said, to get a significant Korean other or to express yourself religiously or politically, then learning more Korean would be needed. But from where I’m standing, you guys are doing just fine. You’ve learned the language well enough to bond with your neighbors, to speak to someone passing by, to order food and get around the transportation systems. Since you are torn about whether or not to continue learning Korean, you’d normally list the pros and cons, which you have in this post, then make a decision. Just keep it simple. You could ask yourself WHY do you need to expand in learning more Korean and WHAT BENEFITS are to learning more Korean and HOW would this affect your relationship (with each other), your job and your personal me time. You guys already work waaay to many hours just for our benefit in putting out videos. Why go into your own special together time if you don’t have to? Well, good luck. I hope this post helps.

    7 years ago
  21. Je suis sûre que tu te débrouilles mieux en français que tu ne le penses ! Je vais donc écrire en français :

    Just kidding :p
    Actually, I don’t think you guys have to be fluent to appreciate Korea, you already know enough language for that!
    As a french speaker in Canada (Quebec, but at my job everyone speaks english and very little french, so it’s almost like living in the RoC!), I am not good enough in english (When speaking, writing is very different) to debate about political or religious stuff, but I speak it enough to talk about casual things, and never needed more than that. People at my job know that I am not that good and we just deal with it, it never have been a problem.

    Just do as you want, and don’t ever let what people say bad stuff about how you are living your life!

    7 years ago
  22. 0:23 I have that too Simon… right before a herpes attack : /

    7 years ago
  23. I am not confident in myself to learn Korean (or any language, really). I could probably pick up key words as needed, but despite my heritage, I don’t see it happening. ^^;;

    When we made plans to visit Korea two years ago, my friend decided to learn the alphabet. That helped tremendously when we were making our way through the trains without my mom.
    The few times I went out to buy things on my own, there was hardly any talking between me and the cashiers (save for the coffee places) and the couple of times the cashier didn’t speak English, they used their hands to “draw” or signal what they wanted to ask/tell me. My favorite was the girl who drew a square with her fingers to ask if I wanted a bag.
    The most difficult time I had was at a food vendor/tent where I was apparently in charge of asking for food. xD;; I didn’t know what small or large was, so trying to show that with my hands and the woman trying to relay it back to me in both Korean and English felt awesomely nerve-wracking to me. There was a Caucasian couple who were there watching us with amusement, and the man took a photo of us. I can’t tell if I should’ve been embarrassed or not. ^^;;

    Luckily, for our trip this year, both myself and my friend have family there who will probably escort us throughout our trip, but my friend speaks and understands Korean enough to probably get us by in non-touristy areas.

    7 years ago
  24. In my opinion, learning a language should be fun … and in taking the little time that you do have for resting and forcefully willing yourself to study, it loses the fun and becomes a chore. I personally love languages and I think they are brilliant.Languages are for communication and if you can communicate AND you are comfortable with the amount of Korean you know, I don’t see why you should need to learn.

    Plus, by living in Korea, you have the added bonus of, when you do go out, learning on the go. You can improve everyday when you do speak in Korean, if you look at it that way.

    However, and this is something that has greatly improved my language skills, watching dramas or reading newspapers in Korean would help too.

    I really hope you will read this and hope that I might have been a little bit of a help, but the bottom line is, you should learn because you want to learn, not because you feel guilty about not knowing it fluently :))))))

    Aicha <3

    7 years ago
  25. Perhaps it comes down to personal interest. I’m very interested in learning languages. I’ve studied dead languages (Old English) and I study modern languages for reading-knowledge only. I actually totally suck at learning languages, but I find it stimulating and satisfying and endlessly fascinating. But if you don’t get all excited about grammar and comparative philology, and you can achieve your communication goals with the language level that you have, maybe there is no reason to keep studying. If you find that you want to study, then go for it! But if you just don’t have the time or the interest, then, well, maybe there’s no reason to overthink it too much. It’s not like the language is going anywhere — you can always come back to it later.

    7 years ago
  26. “Oh God, this post is getting too long. I’m sorry for rambling for so long. This is just something we feel really guilty about, and it’s something we grapple with every week.” Oh guise… you shouldn’t feel guilty! You’ve got plenty on your hands… and I know that once a work day is over..you feel in the mood for pretty much nothing.. it’s fun but tiring I know! I do believe you find it hard but maybe if you take it easy (when you have the time). I actually subscribed to the 101 language service center and they provide your “word of the day” for free; not to mention examples of sentences with the specific word. I know the alphabet, some usual expressions but I just feel I want to learn more… I feel like I’ll somehow regret it if I let it be plus I love it too much to do that. Do you know “Talk to Me In Korean” have BOOKS?? > . < (if only I could get a hold of them – . -). The point is if you feel you're satisfied with your level of Korean then don't study further. Don't feel pressured… and take some days off(regularly)! – . -' (it's ironic that you told U-KISS to take a break when you're actually among the ones that need one).

    ♥♥ ♥ ♥

    7 years ago
  27. I live in Hawaii and I remember my parents were trying to get me to learn Japanese in school. Didn’t work since I was sorta forced into taking Spanish instead and there’d was no reason in me going all the way back and struggle in another language.

    I grew up around people speaking broken English all the time, mainly because the slang came from a bunch of people forced together with nothing but a few words here and there. I’m super white washed though, even the bits of Hawaiian I should know goes over my head. Hell, my dad listens to Hawaiian music all the time, I grew up with it and I still know jack shit.

    I’ve been torn between learning another language and not doing it. I have the need because for me it’d be a way to get to know the parts of my family and heritage that gets swept under the carpet because it’s not needed to “keep the Hawaiian culture alive” or it’s not Japanese and won’t help me in getting a job. I don’t because I took 5 years of Spanish and I can barely understand it. I don’t even need to since I’m not even Filipino or Catholic. (I went to a school where everyone was Filipino and Catholic and that was the reason they had us learn Spanish)

    7 years ago
  28. i think it’s sad that in the US we only have to take 2 years of a foreign language, but other countries around the world not only learn to speak English fluently, but also learn some American History…*hangs head in shame*
    I’m working on learning Korean. I can understand a lot of conversations thanks to watching so much media in Korean, and i can read some words, or at the very least sound them out.
    My brother who’s about to be a dad in a week or 2 said that he’s going to make sure his daughter doesn’t become just another American who can only speak English.

    i would personally hate a world where everyone just spoke one language.

    7 years ago
  29. I’ve had 2 trips to S. Korea. Both times I was a magnet for people wanting to practice their English, where as I wanted to learn more Korean. Total strangers coming up to me at rest areas and asking the reason for our trip etc. Now, it was a group of 20+ Americans. Maybe it’s cause I give off that “mom” vibe.
    My only experience with non-English foreigners was at the World Taekwondo Expo 2 in which we competed. Most of the staff knew just a little English or none. It didn’t appear they were fluent in other languages. There was one woman from Turkey who tried for so long to have a question answered. I would say it is probably more difficult for non-English speaking foreigners. Though I did want to use my Korean, especially on the second trip, it was fun to have little kids run up and say “hi” or have families ask about our group and why we were in their country. I had a nice chat with two college aged black belts. One of them had to show me pictures of his girlfriend and ask if I thought she looked like Angelina Jolie :) I met another nice family at Soraksan. The college aged son approached me then the rest of the family came over to smile and wave “I’m father” said his dad. I know they appreciate the chance to hear a native speak. It’s much different than learning from books, tapes or a class.
    I know what you mean about rural areas. When we were off in the countryside, my air conditioner had a leak. In my limited Hangugeo I was prepared with the word for air conditioner, mul and making motions with my hands saying plop plop and hoping they would understand. I was saved by our Taekwondo master who laughed and interpreted for me. Whenever I made an effort to speak to someone in their language, it was well received and appreciated. I think that is why I had such a good experience there. A friend who is a Korean native asked if I found people to be rude or welcoming because his experience is that they can be somewhat rude to foreigners. I really didn’t get that. I think it was my effort to at least attempt to understand and be understood.

    7 years ago
  30. Hey. This is the first time I’ve noticed Simon (and I saw Martina do it once or twice as well), continuously look to his left. Do you have a teleprompter set up over there?

    7 years ago
  31. This is actually a very interesting topic and all of the comments here are very interesting to read :) Before I comment I want to say that I personally believe there is no one way to learn a language and that being fluent in a language does not have a single form.

    My native tongue is Spanish and I didn’t learn English until I was 5 years old. I was born in the US and have lived here ever since except for the year and a half I lived in Mexico when I was 3. Today I can confidently say I am fluent in both English and Spanish. I know and use more English and Spanish even though Spanish was my native tongue. I don’t know how to write like a person who has only spoken Spanish their entire life and I also do not think in Spanish as if I lived in a Spanish speaking Country but I still consider myself fluent in Spanish because I can communicate in it. To me being fluent in a language isn’t so much to do with grammar and rules (although it is obviously important) but it is about using that specific language to communicate with others. I hope I explained myself well here.

    Simon and Martina, I think I can understand why you guys feel guilty. I find hard to write a college level paper in Spanish and for that reason I took a class that taught me Spanish grammar and such (it was a class where we discussed in Spanish more than anything). In Spanish there are accent makrs and I never used them when I wrote in Spanish until now. And I still have trouble (thank goodness for Microsoft spell check!) but the point is I have also felt guilty for not knowing much Spanish grammar and the fact that Spanish was my first language made my guilty feelings worse.

    This comment is too long! Sorry you guys. I still wanted to add one more thing though. I’ll make it short.

    I am currently learning Korean and Japanese (more Korean that Japanese) and by learning I don’t mean studying books alone but also watching Korean Dramas and Japanese anime (btw if you have never seen CLANNAD, I STRONGLY recommend it!!! Anyone else here seen it?) Although using Songang’s University did help me learn Hangul I would have never gotten as far (Though I only know a couple of phrases) as I am now if I didn’t watch them. But I will keep learning. The learning process has no fixed procedure which is why it is awesome :)

    7 years ago
  32. When visiting Seoul i found it so easy to get around, but even during those two weeks of staying and visiting the same couple places in the area and having minimal conversations in the little bit of Korean i did know made it much more enjoyable, and the respect level at the slightest attempt at trying to speak korean was heightened – people appreciated the effort.

    7 years ago
  33. I think you should open to learning Korean, but you don’t necessarily need to take a class on it. That’s where I am now. My friends got me into kpop and korean dramas last year, and since then I’ve been learning the language through songs and dramas and this website called talktomeinkorean. I decided to learn hangul one day over break (I’m in high school), and now I have a notebook full of Korean words (all in hangul so I can practice it) and their meanings. I’m not taking a class or anything (even though I am planning to in college, but this is mostly because I think it’ll be fun and this is my time to learn, right?) I’m pretty much just learning Korean by myself because it interests me, and it’s gratifying to know how far I’ve come just by teaching myself.

    Obviously, you know a lot more Korean than I do, and learning more complex words isn’t going to be as easy as learning beginner words like I am. But I think you should try following this way of learning the language. Learn Korean on your spare time for fun. This way you’ll have something to do in your spare time, you’ll feel gratified doing it, and you won’t feel guilty for not learning anything more about the language.

    7 years ago
  34. 237

    I was wondering if you guys could describe times you have been recognized on the street? What was the first time like? Can you describe some of your experiences with fame?

    Also, is there anyone who you wish watched your videos that doesn’t already?

    7 years ago
  35. I think that you are awesome and you should not worry about furthering your Korean as like you said you do shead light on Korea and show people how awesome the place is. I think that as long as you can communicate and get by there is not thing wrong with that. I’m actually learning Korean at the moment and i’v have been doing so for about a year and i’m still very basic. I think it’s a life long thing, You just need to surround your self into it to become fluent and if you are not, it can become hard. ^_^ I enjoyed this video guys thank you <3

    7 years ago
  36. I understand the bubble. I’m German American, but since my mother passed away when I was little, I didn’t learn German growing up. So the times when I went over to Germany, my older brother acted as translator. But as I got older and the opportunity to study German, I took it so that I could speak with my grandmother myself. And that was one of my driving forces. But I found, now that I’m basically fluent after like 6 years of instruction, that Germany isn’t a fantasy place anymore that it was before. Then again, it means I can talk with my Grandmother and be able to find out her personality beyond her making me food and acting like a mother when I go over there since I can actually talk to her now. So it’s a trade-off.

    I’m also studying Korean and Japanese, though my Korean has been placed on back-burner for the moment since I’m going to be studying abroad in Japan this Spring. But then, neither of those languages are fluent for me, Japanese intermediate and Korean probably advanced beginner I guess. It’s nice to be able to speak with my friends in a language they’re more comfortable with, but then again the necessity isn’t always there. But on the other side, as I’ve been learning German, I’ve learned that one of the biggest driving forces I have comes from situations where I’m by someone who doesn’t understand English and I’m trying to address a point that it vital to the conversation we’re having. In such cases (they still happen, especially with my grandma), I feel really bad when neither of us can understand it and the other person wishes to wait and come back to it when someone they know who speaks English (better than them) is nearby. In German, I know enough to be able to talk around this, to describe it to others in another way to be understood. But in Japanese and Korean, I fall into the trap of not being able to. And It hurts me to put such a burden on someone of not being able to understand.

    But still, I agree that one doesn’t have to necessarily be fluent to get by, especially in countries that teach English in schools. If there’s no time or real drive, why bother? You shouldn’t feel guilty about that. If I was in your situation, I would do the same. As it is, I’m still a young college student trying to explore the world, so I’ll keep raking up language classes and real-life practice as much as I can before my life closes on a profession and I don’t have the wiggle-room for it. If anything, it gives me an excuse to watch dramas and I’m perfectly fine with that. O.O XP

    7 years ago
  37. I am from Indonesia and I can assure you that people from my country speaks English pretty well (ignoring the accents). Last time I went to Korea, it was smooth sailing, like I have no trouble at all adjusting to speaking in ENglish to people around Seoul (or at the worst time, body language). But if you are aiming to go explore Jeju or Busan or the countryside by yourself, you might need to be able to learn and read korean.

    I have never had any trouble since I am quite fluent with everyday Korean (I got into kpop 6 years ago, like during DBSK era, so I’ve absorb plenty of korean since then), but people who don’t speak/read korean at all might want to prepare to learn stuff like the currency (how they pronounce money stuff like baekwon, cheonwon, manwon, shipmanwon, baekmanwon, cheonmanwon etc), the numbers (hana, dul, set vs il, ee, sam), and how you address people (because korean have different way to treat people and respect age hierarchy a lot). It won’t hurt to learn that much, and if you come as a tourist, I think, that amount can get you pretty much okay with shopping.

    7 years ago
  38. a friend of mine has a word a day calendar. She and her daughter make a game out of it. whoever uses the word in random conversation (using it correctly of course) gains a point. first person to use it that day gets double points. at the end of the week they tally all the points.

    if mom wins, then the daughter does something special for mom. usually its chore related but sometimes its crafts or something else. if the daughter wins its usually ice cream or some other kind of treat.

    i could easily see the two of you turning this into a date thing. whoever wins the most points get treated to their favorite meal sort of thing.

    it would be a great way to broaden your Korean vocabulary, without spending loads of time on it, so you wouldn’t have to feel guilty anymore.
    I’m actually thinking about doing this with my own kids.

    7 years ago
  39. Martina!!! You should do an Open the Happy, or even a TL;DR, about where you get your cool clothes. You always have the cutest sweaters and jackets.

    7 years ago
  40. Honestly, I like the opposite of the “lost” feeling best. Growing up as a third culture kid being completely (or well as much as my age would allow) in two languages I have always felt ‘part’ of wherever I go, as opposed to being labelled a foreigner. I like to say that my nationality is American (as in the continent, not USA). The world is my home. I’m not sure many will understand my feelings on this, most people, including kids that grew up like me, think it’s hard… but I like it.

    Which is one of the reasons I get irritated/scoff at people who for example, will curse in another language or use words like “cool” (not the ones that actually studied the language or went to a different country to learn it). Even now, that I’m trying to learn Korean and do probably the same things that would irritate me, I still don’t like when others do it. Somehow I feel like I have the right, since I was always interested in other cultures/never really had a “set” culture myself, as opposed to people who are just like “Kpop! Now I love Korea!”. I know this is kind of hypocritical yet I can’t help feeling this way…

    7 years ago