Korean! Guess what? On January 3, I started learning a new language. But wait! In my September 7 post about hacking the API Matrix, wasn’t I supposed to be learning a “real” programming language like Python? Yep, that’s true. But as I predicted, “it’s also entirely possible that I might be… distracted by yet another inspiring concept or connection of concepts.” This time, the new language is Korean.
Why Korean? Well, whether it’s my ongoing attachment to Korean pop culture, Japanese anime, Chinese cinema, or Thai cuisine, maybe I’m exhibiting my innate affinity, curiosity, or empathy with Asian things. So why not Japanese? Honestly, while I’ve been fascinated by Japanese anime much longer than Korean cinema or drama, the undeniable deciding factor is my addiction to K-pop music!
Hi, my name is Jay, and I’m an IBM TRIRIGA information developer at IBM. If you haven’t noticed it, my blog profile states “K-pop geek”. But you might wonder: What does learning Korean have to do with information development? Or technology in general? To be clear, that’s not the reason I’m learning it. But if it was, can you deny the technological impact of Korean conglomerates like Samsung and LG?
When did it all start?
Although my addiction to K-pop music began as recently as 2012, my earliest interests in Korean entertainment stretch back to 2005. That year, I was exposed for the first time to the spy action thriller “Shiri” (1999) starring Yunjin Kim, and historical detective drama “Damo” (2003) starring Ha Ji-won! Since then, I’ve enjoyed hundreds of hours of Korean films, dramas, comedies, and reality series.
But in 2012, everything exploded! Amusingly enough, while we all know how Psy‘s “Gangnam Style” (2012) music video conquered K-pop and then the world, I hadn’t watched the original version first. Instead, I first watched his alternative version featuring Hyuna, the main rapper of the K-pop girl group 4Minute. From there, I found 2NE1, Big Bang, Beast, Girls’ Generation, Kara, and dozens more!
Since the Korean music industry is so closely tied to the Korean television industry, where pop idols can often be remarkable actors, my K-pop obsession naturally fueled my rediscovery of K-drama. For instance, the spy-action drama “Iris” (2009) features T.O.P of Big Bang, the rich-kid drama “Heirs” (2013) features Krystal of f(x), and the reality drama “K-pop Star” (2011-2014) features K-pop survival.
Which path did I take?
Then 2015! With the arrival of the new year, I found myself on a bright new path. Not only searching Amazon for Korean language courses, but also discovering “Korean From Zero! 1” (2014). And the best part? You can download their PDF and MP3 files from their website for free. No more excuses! In fact, here are a few shots of their PDF, my Hangul writing exercises, and my Hangul keyboard stickers!
How is my path so far?
So far, so good! After only my first week with Hangul writing and typing exercises, I was able to sound out and read simple Korean words. Then in my second week, when I felt that the PDF and MP3 files on my smartphone weren’t enough anymore, I returned to the full website for their audio-integrated version of the PDF lessons. Speaking of which, here are a few screenshots of the free online lessons!
What are my final thoughts?
Wow, ten years is a long time. From my first Korean films and dramas in 2005 to my latest Korean reality series in 2015. All that time in which I could’ve cracked the Korean language much sooner! But you know what? It’s never too late to learn something new. So, as I enter my third week, I already know that by reading and writing Hangul, I’ve come farther than I ever have before. That inspires me.
Earlier, I asked: What does learning Korean have to do with information development? Or similarly, technical communication? While my fascination with K-pop, its idols, its industry, its culture, and its language might not have any direct impact on my day-to-day technical skills, I can surely imagine broader long-term benefits for my global communication skills. Which might be even more valuable.
Well, on that note, I guess it’s time to say, “안녕히계세요! (Goodbye!)”
Do I have an update?
Three months after cracking into the Korean language, I was tackling stacks of Korean paperbacks!
- What is Korean From Zero!? (www.koreanfromzero.com)
- Popular exclamations in Korean (www.talktomeinkorean.com)
- PSY: GANGNAM STYLE (강남스타일) M/V (www.youtube.com)
- How Korea became the world’s coolest brand (business.financialpost.com)
- Samsung’s Sitcom About Samsung Will Feature K-Pop Stars (www.billboard.com)
- PSY (ft. HYUNA): Oppa Is Just My Style (오빤 딱 내 스타일) M/V (www.youtube.com)
- Samsung is leaning on K-Pop stars for an employee recruitment sitcom (www.qz.com)