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Korea and Korean language


Vadrosaul
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Does anyone here speak and/or write Korean, or any Oriental language for that matter?

 

A job opportunity has come up in Seoul, so I may take up trying the language in a night course starting in February. It’s not a prerequisite, but still am I wondering if anyone has any first-hand knowledge on Korea/n.

Loose BOWELS are the first sign of THE CHOLERA MORBUS!
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I know a few words in Korean, because I go to Hap-Ki-Do martial arts training, which comes from there. And our trainer always insist to speak certain words in Korean, because this is required for the belt tests.

I don't think that this would help you much though, because these are only a few commands, the names of the moves and stances that we have to do and counting (at least to ten).

Apart from that I know Korean only from the instruction manuals which come in all kind of languages, and you can see this funny pictures which go for characters. :)

Gerhard

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I lived in Taiwan for a few months and did Mandarin classes out there. I've no idea how Korean relates to Mandarin though. Korean and China share a border but the characters in Korean don't seem to have that much resemblance to Chinese (unlike in Japan where alot of it is identical even though the language has a completely different sound and structure).

 

Languages are languages. I think that German would be harder than Mandarin, but with study and exposure to using Korean I'm sure it will be fine. Babies learn it after all - how hard can it be?! :P

I want your brain... to make his heart... beat faster.

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Yeah, I taught English in Seoul after college, so I know all about it (then after Korea I lived to Japan). You really don't have to learn Korean to live in the city because the English ability of the general city population is superb, probably first among Asian countries (at least it seemed that way to me), esp among younger people. Even if you did try learning it, you might not even use it too often; you can get by on English.

 

But of course it doesn't hurt ... and you'll be picking up a lot of the language just living there.

I learned the alphabet and a lot of phrases, but I don't remember so much now because I honestly didn't use it so much; whereas I studied Japanese and had to use it all the time so it stuck much better. Of course, how much you use it might depend on your job and situation.

 

One advantage of Korean/hangul is the alphabet is phonetic, so no learning characters (although they learn and use Chinese characters, too, but you don't need them), and it's not tonal. The basic grammar structure is similar to Japanese (SOV). But there some ways it's closer to Chinese; e.g., the vocabulary.

 

As for the city itself, I could tell you some things, but what sorts of things would you like to know?

 

Generally speaking, the farther South you go, the more high-end it is with the apartments and shopping.

There are a number of hot spots, each with its own flavor, that you'll get to know as you visit them.

Korean people have a kind of fighting underdog spirit to them that I liked; they're the "other" East Asian country, but one making big strides as the little guy, and proud of their history and what they've achieved ... people in China and Japan took things more for granted IMO.

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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As for the city itself, I could tell you some things, but what sorts of things would you like to know?

 

Generally speaking, the farther South you go, the more high-end it is with the apartments and shopping.

There are a number of hot spots, each with its own flavor, that you'll get to know as you visit them.

Korean people have a kind of fighting underdog spirit to them that I liked; they're the "other" East Asian country, but one making big strides as the little guy, and proud of their history and what they've achieved ... people in China and Japan took things more for granted IMO.

Anything you could impart about your experiences would be appreciated. Dining, light shopping, transportation (taxi experiences), technology, weather, things to look for, things to avoid, nuances, the mentality of the cityfolk, perception of foreigners, taboos, etc…

 

I don’t need worry about apartment, the job requires about a third of a month spent there, and the company would be supplying accommodation. As long as there’s ubiquitous Net access I’ll be set :)

Loose BOWELS are the first sign of THE CHOLERA MORBUS!
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Let's see...

 

- Net access ... safe to say not a problem. Practically every block has its own net cafe or 2, at least 6 years ago.

 

- Same thing goes for restaurants. They're everywhere. In my humble opinion, Korean food is awesome ... they cover the table with little dishes that the table shares, and it tends to be spicier than other Asian food.

 

- Now that you mention taxis, probably the most essential Korean you need to know are taxi directions: "when-choke" = Go left. "oran-choke" = Go right. "Chi-ching" = Go straight. "Yo-gi-oh" = here (as in, stop here). The subways are great, but taxis are cheap enough you can use them. They have a reputation for fast driving; if you put on your seat-belt it's almost like a challenge.

 

- Places:

 

- Dongdaemun is the famous market street, definitely worth a trip; also has nice tea houses.

 

- It's not far from Itawon, which is the very touristy area near the US army base. We actually didn't like going to Itawon too much because the army guys sort of set a sour tone, and you get treated like a stupid tourist, but on the other hand if you want to get things a tourist would want (like traditional ware), which you probably do, it everything you'd want assembled together, so it's good for what it is.

 

- High end shopping is Apkujong, across the river.

 

- Best night life is probably Kagnam (or spelled Kangnam?)

 

- The city is definitely a night owl's city, in my experience. Lots of going bar hopping late at night, then you stop off at one of the street vendors that stay open all night for tasty greasy food, and a cab ride home.

 

- Koreans are generally very gracious hosts to visiting foreigners and incredibly friendly. There is a bit of a generation gap where older people still appreciate westerners from the Korean War, and younger people want to be more independent from the west, so sometimes stage protests against "Western" things, in particular the US army base ... But this won't affect any interpersonal connections you'll make. Young people of course are more cosmopolitan, have all studied English, and like young westerners (that aren't military).

 

- Of course, don't leave your common sense at the border, there are a few shady people that might try to take advantage of you, like anywhere (e.g., there was a time when English teachers were getting shafted on their pay). But it's by no means dangerous. The crime rate is seriously like 0.002. Just be smart. I seriously doubt you'll have any problem in the time you're there, though.

 

- One idea I noticed that tends to capture Korean society ... take it with a grain of salt, it's like saying Americans are "freedom-loving individualists", like a heuristic stereotype to understand some things about the society but don't take it too seriously ... You can see Korean society as being very "proper" in the sense that everything seems to have its place in society and people expect things to conform to that. So you'll notice almost every bakery seems to be a "French bakery", every bar an "American bar", every clothing store "British Fashion", the women have a very particular sense of fashion and look of sophistication that you'll notice in how they dress ... things like that. So it pays to pay attention to what they might think is the proper approach to whatever is going on.

 

- Taboos are generally of an Asian bent. The low/high thing. The feet are low so don't push things with them or point with them; the head is high so don't sit on a pillow for the head; never pass someone's head under your legs (I got in trouble for that ... don't even ask...); etc. Don't step on a door sill, at a house or temple. Shoes off inside rooms.

 

- Generally speaking, though, it's like traveling to any country. Be open minded, respectful, excited to see new things, etc. And have fun.

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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I've heard the term "Oriental" is fairly colloquial, and to some even has negative connotations. I think the correct term is "Asian". Someone can correct me on that. I did a bit of reading here to back up what I heard

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriental

 

Depends where you're from. I don't agree with that wiki article.

In the UK we refer to people from India and thereabouts as Asians, while in the US 'Asian' includes chinese/japanese etc.

IF you were to say 'oriental' in the UK, everyone would think you were referring to China.

I'm rather bored with this stringent political correctness, and having to use the exact 'officially designated' words for someone or something, or otherwise you're a vicious racist.

Are people really that easily offended?

If you'd called someone from Africa 'black' in the 60's they'd have been offended by it, but now you can't use any other term.

Who decides these things anyway? It all seems rather arbitrary to me.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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