Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Funny You Said That...

Everyone has heard of Engrish.com, the website that compiles copious amounts of lost-in-translation phrases and words, by now. We saw a girl at the puppy cafe on Sunday with "That's a really hard!" in giant block letters across the front of her sweatshirt.

These are the kinds of typical mistakes that my kids (the Korean children I teach - I will henceforth refer to them as such) will make often. Articles (the, a, an) are undoubtedly the hardest thing for any person learning English as their second language. Korean has subject markers and the like, but the two behave quite differently.

When I first started teaching, there was a different "mistake" the kids made that always made me pause for a bit and question whether it was indeed a mistake or just a peculiarity of language difference. Let me provide an example.

Me enthusiastically asking a child: "Do you like pizza?"
Child: "No, I don't like pizza."
Me surprised by the response: "You don't like pizza??"
Child: "Yes."

Does this child actually like pizza? No. Well, not in Korea(n), at least. I think most native English speakers would agree that if the last statement was made by a child in America it would be "No." or "No, I don't like pizza." The child isn't confused. That is exactly what they would say in Korean. The Korean word for yes is ㄴㅔ (Neh). So the kids pretty much equate the word yes with neh. The nuance in the differences between the two words and how they each function in their respective languages is quite important, though.

Serenity recently learned from an excellent Korean language website that neh more or less means "I agree." or "That is correct." In the above example, we almost use yes and no just as a verbal affirmation of the understood sentence that follows: "No, I don't like pizza."/"Yes, I do like pizza." Let's annotate the above example:

Me enthusiastically asking a child: "Do you like pizza?"
Child: "No, I don't like pizza."
Me surprised by the response: "You don't like pizza??"
Child: "Yes, the statement that you just made is the correct one."

I find it fascinating every time and my urge to correct it is slowly subsiding because it isn't necessarily wrong. It's just a different way of processing language.

Yes, this means my posts are going to be the nerdy ones.


Monday, April 26, 2010


I added a sock to my collection. This one a personified salmon sushi roe sock.

Weekend 8 of 52.

Children's Grand Park, Seoul Forest, Loving Hut, PC Bang, Bau Haus Dog Cafe, Bistro Corner

This was a weekend for birthdays. My birthday was on Sunday, and Teresa's, a teacher, was on Saturday. Also on Saturday, an all day training seminar for some of the teachers, including my husband, so Teresa and I joined forces and went to Children's Grand Park and Seoul Forest together. I mentioned Children's Grand Park when Dan and I found it a weekend or two ago, but this time I had my camera and actually explored the park, which contains a zoo, a botanical garden, pony and camel rides, and an amusement park, all for no entrance fee. We thought it was pretty amazing. We tried to go to Seoul Forest afterward, because Teresa thought a friend had recommended it, but what she really had recommended was a foresty area along the Cheonggyecheon Stream. Seoul Forest, especially after Children's Grand Park, was not pleasant but not impressive.

For Teresa's birthday dinner, we were back at On the Border for Mexican food. This time with a whole group of people. We definitely had a fiesta, if you know what I mean.

Sunday was my birthday, and Dan and I went to the Loving Hut restaurant in Sinchon. Next door to that was a PC Bang, an arcade, where we played Street Fighter, and I excelled as Chun-Li like I always do. We ended up going over to Gwanghwamun to a bookstore and to try to find Insa-Dong. We did not make it to Insa-Dong, but we found ourselves down a pretty path between two stone walls, which would have been prettier if I'd had a better attitude, but sometimes you get sick of walking two full days in a row.

After a nap, we went to the Bau Haus Dog Cafe! And it was wonderful, and we are going to make every final Sunday Schnauzer Sunday (which totally works because there was a sleepy Schnauzer there). A dog cafe is a happy place where you can bring your dog to play with resident dogs and otherwise, where you should order one drink per person, where you should bask in the happy atmosphere. The best part about the dog cafe is that it is the shortest walk from our house. It was only three blocks away. We ended the weekend at Bistro Corner and ate ribs and fries and a cheeseburger.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Midnight Stitch for Cuppa Thursday.

This week, we decided we'd explore the street just beyond our main street. We walked back there last week, and it was chockablock with coffee shops and boutiques and generally cooler stuff than what is on our street. We decided on Midnight Stitch after Dan's first choice cafe with a rooftop patio didn't appear to be open.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Early in our Korean adventure, I decided I would be collecting socks. Sock vendors are everywhere and their wares are unique and silly. I will look back on Korea fondly anytime I wear any of these. My only sort of rule is that I want to try and buy a different brand each time. I'm sure I'll reach the limit of that, though, and I won't stop buying socks I want to own.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend 7 of 52.

Korean Folk Village, Tourist activities at Seoul Tourist Information Center, Reattempt at Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival

Friday was Happy Day again at Dah-un Jin. This time, the school took the students to the Korean Folk Village in Suwon. Just so happens that was on our list. Just so happens they invited me along, too. It is, as it sounds, a traditional Korean village, set up to show what life used to be. The kids (and some teachers) got to pound rice cakes, which, after splinters from wooden mallets were removed and bean powder was applied, we ate. It was really pretty there. It's such a different kind of pretty than is Ohio, and it's always so strange to be in it in real life. It is nice still to be experiencing completely new things as a young adult.

On Saturday afternoon, we went with Korrine and some of her friends from Adventure Korea to do some low-key tourist activities at the Seoul Tourist Information Center. Koreans love photo ops, so we took some pictures with cardboard celebrities and dressed in Hanbok. We also picked up a bunch of brochures and an illustrated guide to eating Korean food. There was even a phone set up for making free three-minute international calls.

Saturday night we were invited to a Beer Tasting Bonanza hosted by Chris and Heather Jones, a couple from our church. I will mention first their friendly dog, Koree, who let us pet and play and scratch his chin. We had a dog once, so very very long ago. You may recall him as such:


What a sleepy little babe he was.

But now we are in Korea and Tater is in Cincinnati with his grandmom, and I will end this aside to say that we very much appreciated Koree's affection last night. We also appreciated the opportunity to taste and very skillfully, with our excessive knowledge and experience, grade a variety of beers. We looked up beer tasting criteria even and filled out score cards to describe things like mouthfeel and aroma. Dan and I are not drinkers, obviously, because we are total babies, but that almost made it nicer to be able to taste a few without the commitment to a full 12 ounces. We tried Beck's, New Castle, Guinness, Sam Adams, something German starting with a W, and Mike's Hard Cran-Lemonade. I get now why beer drinkers think Mike's Hard is grammar school, because after a sip or two of Guinness, the Ade seemed completely non-alcoholic (read: tasty). Heather also made food pairings for most of the beers. We had orange sweet potatoes for the first time in months (Korean sweet potatoes are white inside) and hamburgers and guacamole and other things. Yay for guacamole.

Today, Sunday, we went to a church that meets in the chapel of Yonsei University. This is the University at which we attended the Park Yong Ha concert, but this time we got to look around a bit. After that, we decided to right our ill-timed, ill-planned failure trip to Yeouido for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I'm glad we did, because it was blooming, bustling, and bawesome.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cafe grEAT for Cuppa Thursday.

Cuppa Thursday really is such a treat. It seems like coffee shops here in Hapjeong have been doing remodeling or maybe just Spring redecorating. First Byoung A Ri Kong and then Cafe grEAT closed for a couple of days. They used to have a little patch of grass out front that I admired, and, I think it was the next day, they paved over it. Sad, but practical. Cafe grEAT is probably the most modern style coffee shop we've visited, and it provided my new favorite Seoul iced Americano.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Weekend 6 of 52.

Taco Amigo, Bangsan Baking Market, attempt at Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival, National Assembly Building, Doota, Loving Hut Buffet, Children's Grand Park, Daiso

So this weekend marked our first South Korea fail. We wanted to go see cherry blossoms in Yeouido for their festival, but the cherry blossoms had not yet bloomed, and we didn't even end up finding the festival (we didn't go far enough toward the river). So we resorted to wandering around Yeouido, which was sort of peaceful and nice, but not what we had intended. Earlier that day, Dan and I had ventured to the Bangsan Baking Market in Dongdaemun, and we went back to Dongdaemun after our festival attempt in order to go to the mall, Doota, and buy some shoes and eat food court food.

Sunday, Dan and I commuted to the Achasan station, forty minutes away, to go eat at the Loving Hut Buffet. We got there around 5:30, and dinner didn't start until 6, so we walked across the street and found ourselves in Children's Grand Park, a huge park that includes a zoo, a botanical garden and an amusement park. We hit up the arcade in the amusement park and played Tetris and a thrilling timed game of air hockey (I won). I thought we were only going out for dinner, so I left my camera at home, but I think we will go back.

We ended our weekend at Daiso, a type of dollar store. Amazing. So amazing that we almost decided to live here forever on account of its ability to amaze us.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Weekend 5 of 52.

Myeongdong Cathedral, Myeongdong shopping

Korrine suggested visiting Myeongdong Cathedral to coincide with Passover/Easter. I'm glad she did, because I don't think we would otherwise have thought to do it, but it was obviously completely appropriate. Myeongdong Cathedral was Korea's first parish and is the religion's most prominent Korean symbol. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1898 and includes a crypt and cultural center. We went on the first Spring-like day of the year. Yay.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Board Game Bang in Sinchon.

Thursday night, which is usually reserved for Cuppa Thursday, some people from the school invited us out to a Board Game Bang (room) in Sinchon, land of the copious street foods and the Caribou Coffee. Basically what we did was rent an hour of board game time and space and the use of some clever props. There were seven of us, so our game choice was limited, and W3000 per person isn't much per person, but when it's seven people paying to play two card games, the total cost seems excessive. We ended up playing a type of slap jack game with fruit cards and several rounds of Pit. It is a fun atmosphere with various games going on at all times, and an employed gamesman stands watch to explain the rules and enhance game play. I would go back with just a couple people to play a game we couldn't just go out and buy for our combined fee.