Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My First Korean Class

I'm happy to announce that I have finally started (in)formal Korean classes with a book (intended for 5 year-olds), a teacher (my youngest coworker, volunteered to work with me for free by a senior coworker), and a regular meeting time of Monday and Wednesday mornings from 11:00-12:00.  I'm a little overwhelmed, but I think it's going to be good.  I just need to practice every day and use the phrases I learn in as many situations as possible during my day.  This new gig sure beats trying to construct sentences using my very limited Korean pocket dictionary with the English-less guys I go on dates with, I can tell you that right now.

My teacher is Janice, a 28 year-old soon to be bride.  She's very skinny, energetic, and enthusiastic about helping me learn.  She asked me at the beginning of our time today at Dunkin Donuts what aspect of Korean was my priority to learn: writing, phonetics, speaking, etc. I said speaking, because it doesn't look like I'm going to be writing an theses or novels in Korean anytime soon, and I've studied the alphabet enough to know what sounds go with what letters.  I mostly want to learn the language to form closer relationships with the Koreans I meet.  On her command, I wrote out some simple words.  She let me know immediately that I was doing it all wrong.  Like in Japanese and Chinese, the stroke order for each individual mark in each letter is very important, and she suggested that I make writing my number one.  Kind of bummed out by this, I agreed with her and went to making sure my stroke order was standard.

At the end of our hour, she showed me the pictures of her THREE wedding dresses, first picked out by her, then repicked out by her mother (who said that all her choices looked very cheap).  Before she announced that she was getting married, the director, secretary, and two other coworkers had a serious discussion about how Janice should not attempt to marry the boyfriend she was with.  Their reason: he works for a construction company and he doesn't make enough money.  This was very sad for me to hear because the week before Janice had told me that, unlike most Korean women, she is looking for a kind and generous heart over money.  And now these heartless bitches were trying to break up this sweet young couple!  Since her announcement, I haven't heard anymore negative talk about it, and I won't probe for it either.

Anyway, I'll let you know how my lessons are going.  The pictures in Korean book I bought are priceless.  One says, "Circle the kids in this playground scene who are playing dangerously," and the picture is of kids laughing and playing, along side others who have malicious grins on their faces climbing up slides, grabbing hold of the next kid on the swing with their legs, or standing on the high end of the see-saw.  The assailants has rosy cheeks and wide sparsely-toothed grins.  Fantastic.  I'm excited.

Please leave your comments, reactions--accompanied by a comment, please, and questions below or send them to me via email at vtieman01@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


When I lived in the US, I might have been able to say that I HATED most pop music.  The first time I saw a KPop (Korean pop music) video was in a bar with Brenna and her friends in Incheon on a huge screen. I saw the glittery outfits, the cheesy dance moves, and the boy and girl groups topping off with eight or nine members each, I began to think that pop music wherever I went was not for me.  Since then, I've changed my mind.
Walking past an outdoor dining area near a local hole-in-the-wall seafood restaurant, I caught a glimpse of what was on the TV.  The following video spun my head so fast the centrifugal force sucked my eyeballs out and glued them to the screen:

I had heard the song before, but after I saw those delicious Korean men doing that dance, I was hooked.  (Little did I know at the time that they were actually parodying a song and dance by a girl group called Brown Eyed Girls; nevertheless, I've always loved more femininity in guys than most girls, and, man oh man, Korea's got the guys I love. ;))

If you like the music or the guys, let me know, and I can def hook you up with more KPop.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I miss you, Schwinn Sprint!

I really miss my bike. :(  I didn't, really, for a long time, and then like jet engine screaming in my ear, I suddenly do. We did so much together. We went to work, we went out in the country, to class, we went to Mpls, to concerts, to parties, to birthdays.  What a good friend. 

Every time I want to visit my friends, the cab fare is 2500w there and another 2500w to get back (roughly $5 total).  I could save that money and use it to buy a bike here and ride it over there when I want some exercise and a chat. The ride is scenic and most of the way has sidewalks that are wide enough for me to duck off the street if I feel like it's too busy. I'd want a pretty decent road bike, not too expensive, but something that's nice and light.  People have told me that riding bike in Korea is very dangerous, but I do see people doing it.  Not as often as in the Twin Cities, but a recognizable number.  And they're mostly old people, which leads me to believe that it's really not that dangerous (they're the wisest and most experienced, am I right, Grandma and Grandpa?). And to help out just a little, I'll even tell someone special about my plans:

Dear Santa,
I've been a really good girl this year, and I've found the courage to do some things that I previously thought scary and insurmountable.   I think I deserve a pat on the back.  How is the Mrs.?  Tell her she's a helluva woman.  Santa, please bring me a road bike with ram handlebars and pedal cages this Christmas.  I'll be sure to supply plenty of deokbeoggi (Korean children's favorite snack, made with pulverized-fish-bone cake, spicy orange sauce, and chewy rice logs) for when you come to leave it for me on Xmas Eve.  Thank you! 
                                                 Sincerely, Korean Vanny