Korean Studies… or not

Fail Kitty

Recently, I read a good article by Yonhap News about language studies and KPop. A lot of people who get interested in Korean culture also are learning Korean now, which is a good thing. It helps bridge cultures, I believe. It’s similar to how Anime in Japan helps motivate foreigners to learn and explore aspects of Japanese culture.

I think that was a big motivation for me to study Korean. I grew up with Korean friends, and heard Korean sometimes, but I never really wanted to study it until I get interested in KPop and such.

Unfortunately, since the last trip to Japan, the motivation has almost totally disappeared.

I’m not sure what happened, but something changed after I came back. I think it’s for a few reason though.

First, as I wrote about previously, I’ve been very focused on work lately, and also about possibly transferring to Japan in a few years. So, I am mainly focused on Japan only right now. This is not because I think one country is better than the other, or more interesting, but simply because I have a specific, concrete reason to improve my Japanese skills right now. This is probably the biggest reason.

Second, I am kind of tired lately, because of the busy transition at work. I don’t really study anything right now, and mostly just play old Playstation games (FF7 and Chrono Trigger as always) and watch AndrewsGamesDisplay on Youtube. I just don’t have the energy right now to do any serious study. So, I just relax with some classic gaming.1

Third, since I do know some Japanese, I can enjoy things like reading funny manga and reading books on Buddhism. So, I can use Japanese during leisure time rather than explicitly studying. With Korean, I can’t really do anything yet because I can’t read or listen very well. Plus, there are fewer resources available2 for language students and my existing methods aren’t working very well (see below). So even though I am not studying Japanese I am having fun with it. I haven’t found a way to do this in Korean yet. Hopefully this will change in the future.

Fourth, I’ve lost interest in some things I liked before. I used to watch Eat Your Kimchi a lot, and they inspired me to be interested in Korean culture and music, but I was really disappointed when they admitted to living in Korea with a tourist visa (they quit teaching years ago). In their words:

Anyhow, we had a bit of a problem that we’ve been trying to work out for the past year: we don’t have Visas in Korea, since we’re not teaching. Currently we’re here on tourist visa’s which are indeed totally legal…

Yes, it’s legal, but I feel they’ve been kind of abusing the system, since they’re making money from Youtube videos and living there. So, I lost some respect for them. Plus, asking for donations seemed a bit tacky, so I have stopped watching their videos and don’t really keep up anymore. I wish them well in their efforts, and I still think they make good videos, but I’m just a little disappointed and lost interest.

Fifth, I don’t listen to as much KPop lately. I like it of course, I still enjoy 2NE1, Brown Eyed Girls and Sistar regularly, but I have other priorities now. And without KPop as a motivation, my Korean language studies have lost priority too.

A sixth reason is that I’ve had a few embarrassing incidents lately with trying to engage in Korean conversation and failing. The problem is always the same: I can something in Korean and people seem to understand me (hopefully), but I can’t understand what they are saying. These experiences taught me an important lesson: studying only helps a little. You need lots of exposure. I know people who understand Korean better than me, even though I studied for a year because they watch so many K-Dramas and such.

I realize now that I would only really improve if I spend a lot more time watching/reading Korean media. But that’s a major investment of time and resources, and as I said before, I have other priorities right now.

I haven’t quit studying Korean yet, but I have studied very little in the last few weeks, and I am not very motivated to study right now. In my mind I want to study, but nothing happens. Maybe things will change soon, and I can pick up Korean studies again, but I kind of doubt it. One language is hard enough, and maybe two is just too much right now.

Or, maybe I just need to take a break for a while and find some inspiration again. We’ll see.

P.S. I still plan on posting about Korean-related subjects of course. Just depends on what is going on and what’s interesting to talk about. Still looking good resources on Korean Buddhism at the moment.

1 Speaking of “classic” gaming, I own this shirt. This one, too.

2 It’s also kind of hard to blog about things like Korean Buddhism, culture and such for the same reason.

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Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

6 thoughts on “Korean Studies… or not”

  1. Just as you used to say this in Japanese: ゆっくりともう一度言ってください。This is one phrase you should definitely memorize: 천천히 다시 말해 주시기 바랍니다.(cheoncheonhi dasi malhae jusigi balabnida.) I use it A LOT! I think this will help keep you wanting to use Korean. Ganbare … Hwaiting! 😀

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    1. Hi Sachiko and thank you very much. I definitely appreciate it and perhaps it doesn’t have to be an either-or thing. Instead of quitting, just slow it down.

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  2. It’s like savings, sometimes you fall off the horse and you just need to get back on again. It’s more of a progression rather than an end goal, you know? Just like the English language really. We don’t really ‘quit’ we just take lulls in our path, and all things take time. 😀 So like, maybe not be so hard on yourself? Heck, you’re doing more than anyone else I know. 😀

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