Survival Korean aka Learning what you need to learn

I found this little quick survival guide.  There is a lot more to Korean, like any other language, but Survival Korean will get you through some fairly common things.

Koreans are kinda funny when it comes to knowing their language.  First, they are always surprised that you know ANY of it.  It’s like they don’t expect anyone outside of their country to learn their language despite they themselves learn English.  That surprised can be expressed in many ways.  The most common is “Wow, you know Korean?” but I have had one guy who replied with the most oddly nervous laugh I have ever heard.

Now, when you pick up a few phrases another weird phenomena happens.  They think you know more than you do and will start talking to you in Korean.  That’s when I learned how to say “I only know a little Korean.”(Pun not intended but amusing still).

Another common phrase you will learn while here is “How much is this/that?” All-my-e-o. This is a simple phrase to learn but there was a problem.  See, before I learned that, they Koreans would either type it out on a calculator and show it to me, or point to the cash register.  When I asked them this in Korean, they would automatically reply in Korean.  That was when I needed to learn the Korean numbers.  Even after that, they still spoke too quickly to me.  That was when I learned ‘Could you please repeat that slowly?”

What is funny is while you are learning Korean, you want to practice it.  It becomes somewhat frustrating when you walk into a store, say hello, pick up your product, ask how much it is (all in Korean) and the guy behind the counter replies in English because he is a University student who wants to practice his English!

The first Korean I learned was actually the subway names.  The digital signs on the subway alternate between English and Korean (Chinese too but I haven’t the foggiest clue on that language).  So it is easy to learn alternating words.

Once you know the alphabet, you can read everything, almost.  There are a few tricky rules where the sound of a character does actually change depending on it’s position in the syllable.  Still, outside of that, most things are pretty straight forward.  Until you read the ‘Konglish’.  Konglish is an English word made using Korean characters.  Here I am thinking it’s great to read Korean when I get this while reading the name of a restaurant “Chee….ken….dok…ter….oh, Chicken Doctor!”

Author: DragonDon

Having a love of travel has lead me to move to South Korea in 2010. Moving to an Eastern culture from a Western culture is a wild experience and there is never a dull day!

5 thoughts on “Survival Korean aka Learning what you need to learn”

    1. Yes, having English somewhere in your business, or on a t-shirt that you are wearing, is a sign of trendiness. Regardless of what it says. Some are hilarious, some are creepy (like the 14yr old girl wearing one that says “I’m sweet, especially for dessert”

  1. This is a great tool, since I’m learning written Hangul. I live in LA (near K-Town) and I’m familiarized with spoken Korean. I would really like to visit and learn about the culture because I’m impressed with their simplicity.

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