Monday, May 04, 2009

Until I get my Camera Back... A Question

First: the question.

Does anyone here know of a good Korean language tutor who operates in the Dongdaemun-gu/Jongno area? I'm looking to bone up on my Korean more actively. Please either contact me through one of the channels on the sidebar, or leave a comment on this post.

Option two:
Or...if I can find two other people who want to join me and take a (cough of embarassment) low level Korean course on Saturday afternoons, we've officially reached the threshhold of three at which time Korean language schools will open a class for us. I know of one that's reasonably priced, offers a once-a-week class from 2-5, and if you join me and sign up, I'll show you one of the awesome restaurants I know in Jongno every Saturday after class. So if that sounds fun to you (I can at least guarantee the food'll be good), leave a way of contacting you in the comments.

OK. So I had a great response to the female bloggers page, and that made me happy. I'll update the list with the omissions named in the comments when I get the chance. Until then...

This weekend I went to Gyeongju for the first time. Yeah. It's embarrassing that I've been living in Korea for so long, and holding forth on Korean culture and stuff, and never made it to some of the places people visit in their first month, but in the last year, I've been filling in some of those gaps, getting my butt out to Andong, and now Gyeongju.

Next on the list: Jeju Island and Seokcho (which I've been through, on the way to Geumgang Mountain in North Korea [ha! I've been there! Have you?] but never actually stopped in to see).

That said, even if there are gaps, I try not to talk about things I don't know about, and am happy to admit when I'm wrong, so back off, huh?

I went to Seokguram Grotto on Buddha's Birthday, which is the only day of the year they open the glass barrier and let you walk in and around the Buddha, which is one of the most impressive Buddhas in all Asia. Here's a picture of it,

but as usual with superlative works of art (and this Buddha scores alongside VanGogh's Irises, and a hair ahead of Klimt's Judith as the two greatest works of art I've seen in person), seeing a picture and seeing it in person is about equal to the difference between reading the lyrics and sheet music to Bob Dylan's album Blood on the Tracks, and listening to it in a quiet room on a rainy afternoon the day after breaking up with your longtime love.

Then, I went and left my camera at Girlfriendoseyo's house yesterday, so I'll have to post pics later.

Until then, here are two pictures I filed away "to post sometime" and never got around to doing.

1. seen in a halloween costume shop in Namdaemun (stolen off a friend's facebook album)
would a mask like that fly in North America? Just wonderin'.

Next: all those people who continue to debate the appropriacy of Shin Saimdang on the Korean 50000 won note (have any of you seen these yet? What's going on? I still haven't), here's an image that clearly sends the message of female empowerment...another option, perhaps?
(more of my suggestions for the 50 000 won note here)

And another of those culturally unaware, awkward acronyms...
"Dude, I'm totally arguing with my girlfriend so much this week. She must have Pre-Medical School."


Kevin Kim said...

If you can find a ten-week block, perhaps between contract periods, I'd highly recommend taking an intensive Korean course like the one I went through at Godae (Korea U.): five days a week, four hours a day in class, about 3-5 hours of homework per night, and the obligation to speak only in Korean with one's classmates and the teacher. My mom was shocked at how much my Korean had improved in such a short time; there's nothing like immersion to do that for you.

My class (I went in as a level 4 out of 6; I should've been a 3) also had various outings and activities-- a trip to an art museum, participation in a poetry contest, student presentations, etc. Most of my classmates were Japanese, so I got to hear some interesting accents, but those classmates were also way ahead of me in terms of Korean ability. I suppose it's a bit like being a native Spanish speaker and learning Italian-- a hispanophone has an automatic advantage in learning Italian over, say, a coreanophone. This fact should have been comforting to me, but because I was the oldest student in the class (a 30-something in a class full of college-aged kids), I also felt slow and stupid. This didn't deter me, however, and the result has proved very helpful not only for getting around in Korea, but also for understanding its culture more deeply.

If you're looking to improve a lot in a short time, a mercilessly intensive course is the way to go. And be sure to pick up some hanja while you're at it. This is like prepping for the SAT by learning Greek and Latin roots; a lot of Korean syllable combinations become clear when you know some hanja. Otherwise, it's just random syllables, each sounding like the other.


PS: It's probable that, no matter what class you take, the textbook will suck. As a language teacher, though, I'm a firm believer that the teacher and students can transcend a textbook's suckitude through creativity and effort. You'll get from the class whatever you put into it.

JIW said...

Me and Jennifer almost went to the same place..but she got a sinus infection and I was time

Darth Babaganoosh said...

I've got a couple of those PMS photos on my Facebook page in my Konglish album.

They're awesome, eh?

Kelly said...

How much do the classes run? How many weeks is the course for? I'm hoping/trying to learn Korean over here, with limited success, but I'm also on a pretty tight budget...And out in the Suwon area. If the price is right, though, I'm definitely interested.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, I've heard rumours that KLEAR is a good text.

Has anybody used this series before? Is it worthwhile. I don't live in Seoul, and Pyeongtaek lacks classes.

melissa v. said...

You can quote me, but not link, ;P
Miss you.

Charles Montgomery said...

Hey Rob,

I'm interested in the Saturday afternoon idea. Anyone else onboard yet?