Korea’s different dialects

Many languages have a dialect, depending on who is speaking and where that person is from. The difference between American and England English is one example of this. The language spoken in these two countries sounds very different even though they both use the English language. This is the same for the Korean language. Even for North and South Korean natives, who share a language, it can be hard to decipher between the two different dialects. When traveling it is important to know this distinction so that you won’t be confused if you can’t completely understand someone because of this fact.

A dialect can sometimes be confused with an accent however they are not the same. A dialect is when there is a difference in vocabulary and/or grammar. An accent is when there is a difference in pronunciation not necessarily in vocabulary or grammar.

According to an article by CBC news the two Korea’s have been separated for so long that they have adopted different things into their languages that set them apart from one another. One example of this is the fact that South Koreans use a lot of English words, called Konglish, that they’ve converted to Korean in their everyday language such as orenji juseu, meaning orange juice, while North Koreans still use the actual Korean word danmul which translates to sweet water in English.

Another difference between the two languages is that the two countries have different intonations in their languages even when saying the same thing. This can be very confusing in the Korean language where intonation is very important to understand what someone means. So when North Korean defectors come to South Korea they have a hard time understanding and communicating with native South Koreans because of these facts.

However, it is not only between North and South Koreans where there is a difference in dialect. In the country of South Korea itself there are different dialects. If you are not fluent in the language then it may be hard to even hear these differences. However, once you start to understand more Korean you will start to hear the differences in words and grammar between the different dialects.

There are six major dialects spoken in South Korea. The main one which is spoken in Seoul and that almost all Koreans can understand is Gyeonggi or the Seoul dialect. This is the dialect that most foreigners learn, and that textbooks teach. Another dialect that is spoken is the Jeju dialect which is sometimes considered a completely different language compared to the rest of the Korean language, because it is so different from the typical Korean language and sometimes cannot be understood by other Koreans.

Though the different dialects in Korean most likely will not hinder your journey to learning Korean, it can come up when talking to people in different parts of Korea or people from older generations that may have grown up speaking in a slightly different way than their younger counterparts. This is just something to keep in mind if you go to Korea and visit different parts of the country and people are saying things that you don’t understand even though you know a good amount of Korean, this might be the reason why. Just be prepared and do your research on what part of Korea you are going to beforehand so you can brush up on your dialect.

Extra video, for you guys to see some of the dialects in action by native speakers:

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#MeToo and the gender hierarchy in South Korea

We are all Korean culture/language lovers here (or at least are interested in it) but when you’re interested in a culture you need to know about the good and not so good aspects of that culture. In the U.S. there is a huge #MeToo movement taking place and that same #MeToo movement has begun to resonate in South Korea.

South Korea has a long history based in Confucianism. If you don’t know Confucianism is a system of ethical and philosophical teachings that found its way to Korea years ago. The teachings the Confucian hierarchy system is still very deeply ingrained into South Korean Culture. Some of these hierarchies include ruler to subject, father to son, husband to wife, elder to younger, and friend to friend.

A lot of these hierarchies if not all are in some way still in place today in South Korea. This is why there is a formal/polite and informal/impolite way to speak in South Korean language. This hierarchy affects the way people are treated. In Korea you are not suppose to question your elder or your boss. This leads me back to the #MeToo movement in South Korea where for years sexual harassment has gone unheard of because people feel as if they cannot question their boss, or the person above them, because they are in a more subordinate position.

However, in the recent months’ feminism in the country has started to grow, it’s small, but it’s definitely becoming more noticeable. Actors such as Oh DalSoo, and Jo Min-ki have been accused and have admitted to sexual assault and harassment. This #MeToo movement is but only one growing part of it of this ongoing issue.

Another part to this issue is the divide between men and women in South Korean culture. Out of 16 countries including Japan, U.S., Canada, and the U.K. South Korea had the biggest gender gap among them according to the OECD data for 2015. This inequality between men and women also comes up in other aspects of the culture. One example of occurred a few days ago when there was a public backlash from Koreans towards Olympic speed skater Kim Bo-reum. There was a petition signed by over 600,000 people for Kim to be kicked of the skating team after she had blamed a fellow skater for a past loss that had occurred. The other issue here, brought up by feminist, is the behavior by  male swimmers who installed hidden camera’s in the female swimmers changing rooms but yet there was no public outcry or reprimanding for these men compared to the Kim Bo-reum incident. This is just one example of the unfair status between men and women in South Korea.

This post is not to scare you into thinking South Korea is a terrible place, because every country has their problems. It’s just here to show that no matter where we are in the world everything isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. You most likely won’t see this divide or see much of the #MeToo movement if you only visit Korea for a week or so but if you decide to stay for study abroad, to teach, or for whatever reason, just be aware of these cultural differences in hierarchy. Remember everyone, no one has the right to sexually abuse you no matter what country you are in and no matter who they are, because at the end of the day your safety and well-being come first.

Fun/Helpful Korean Learning Apps

It can be hard to motivate yourself to learn a new language. Especially a language that is so different from English. However, there are ways to make language learning easier and more enjoyable. One of these ways is through engaging phone apps.

There are many apps out there, some are good, some are bad and some are in between. A fairly recent app, called infinite Korean, came out that allows its users to play a game and learn a language at the same time. It tests your memory and speed skills.

Since it is a game it is designed to be interactive, and because words are repeated as you play the game, it is easier for the users to remember the words, which is good for memory. You can also switch between Hangul and romanization aka the English version of Korean words. The Romanization is helpful for those that are just starting out and may not know Hangul as well as a more advanced learner. The Hangul is helpful for those that are a little more advanced and need something a bit more challenging.

But this isn’t the only app out there there are many more apps that can spice up your Korean language learning. Some of these include:

Daily Dose (is compatible with Korean and nine other languages):

  • This app gives users a word/phrase a day. This is very helpful when trying to improve upon vocabulary. The app also gives you the exact date and day of the week, in the language you are learning. This app with the help of continued repetition and studying of the words and phrases can be very helpful.

Hello Talk (is compatible with Korean and 149 other languages)

  • This app allows users to talk to native speakers throughout the world. The app is designed to allow users to help one another learn a different language. It gives you options of people who are trying to learn the language that you yourself are fluent in and vice versa. It is a good way to practice Korean or any other language that you are learning, while also helping someone else in the process.

V Live

  • This app allows users to watch personal videos from Korean celebrities. If you are interested in K-pop, or K-drama’s this is a great app, as it entertains you while also allowing you to listen to normal Korean conversation. This helps improve your Korean listening skills, and also could help you learn a few new words, and may help with proper pronunciation.

Webtoon (Korean version)

  • This app is a handful of comics that are in Korean. In order to use this tool, you have to be able to read Hangul, and be ready to look up a few words. However, it is a great tool to improve your readings skills in Korean while also allowing you to read interesting comics. (There is also an English version of this app, however I would suggest for learning purposes you get the Korean version.)

Here is a few more apps from youtuber Margarita that you can look into to help further your learning process:

 

Learning a language doesn’t have to be boring, you just have to find ways to make it a little more fun. So go out and try these apps, and hopefully at least one will be right for you, and will help you on your journey towards being fluent in Korean.

The tense history between South Korea and Japan

About a week ago an NBC analysts commented on the relationship between South Korea and Japan. According to the New York Times the analyst aid “a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945, but every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological, and economic that has been so important to their own transformation.” This angered many South Korean’s and goes to show that you should know a little background about a country before you talk about it or when you start to show interest in it.

Since you’re here, I’m assuming you are interested in Korean culture to some extent. One of the most important things to know about Korea is their history with Japan. This is important because if you say the wrong thing like the analyst from NBC, it can land you in hot water.

From 1910 – 1945, before the Korean peninsula was divided, Japan had rule over Korea. During this time Korean’s were pressured into taking Japanese names, and their culture was largely blocked according to The Korea Times, a Korean newspaper. During specific times during the Japanese rule Koreans were not allowed to speak their own language but were instead forced to speak Japanese.

But one of the most upsetting things that happened under Japanese rule, was the drafting of young Korean women as “comfort women” or sex slaves for Japanese soldiers. Many Koreans still hold a deep resentment for Japan because of this fact. As recently as 2015 there was an agreement reached between South Korea and Japan for Japan to apologize and to give $8.8 million to comfort women survivors, according to the New York Times.

Many South Korean’s did not think this was a sufficient apology on the part of the Japanese government. However current South Korean president Moon Jae-in decided to uphold the agreement in January 2018, even amidst backlash from fellow South Koreans.

Korean Statue
Statue of a Korean Comfort Woman

Today in front of the Japanese embassy there stands a bronze statue of a comfort woman, symbolizing that Koreans still remember, and they want Japan to apologize for the treatment of the women. Though South Korea and Japan are allies politically, there is still tension between the two countries.

You don’t want to go to South Korea, and make a comment about Japan and find yourself facing heavy backlash. This happened to a popular South Korean singer Tiffany Hwang after she posted on snapchat on August 15, 2017 while she was in Japan.

According to news site Soompi, on August 15, which also happens to be National Liberation Day in Korea, Hwang posted a picture on snapchat with a filter that showed the Japanese rising sun symbol. The symbol is associated with Japanese Imperial Rule in South Korea, and many South Koreans were upset with the celebrity after the incident. This ultimately lend to Hwang’s apology and her stepping down from her spot on reality TV show “Sister’s slam dunk.”

No matter where you are on your journey to learning Korean, please keep in mind their history, and try to learn more about the country on your own, so that you don’t find yourself in an awkward situation.

 

Why Learn Korean?

South Korea used to be a small country that no one knew about, but as their economy grew, so did the outside world’s interest in the county. With its TV k-drama’s, their K-pop music, language, and food becoming more recognized by those outside of South Korea, it is safe to say South Korea has been on the rise in recent years. With this year’s Winter Olympics being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea it doesn’t seem like the rise is stopping.

With South Korea making more of an impact world wide, many people have grown curious about the culture and language, maybe you have to, which is why you are here. Korean language is called hangul, and many more people are beginning to recognize it. The first step to learning any language is being able to read it. Hangul is the Korean alphabet that is used both in South and North Korea. According to zkorean hangul first made an appearance in the 1500’s. It uses 24 characters and upon first look it may seem difficult to understand, as to the untrained eye it may look like a jumble of lines and circles. Most people however can learn hangul within a week.

As South Korea continues to industrialize and make a name for itself, people cannot help but also look at the country to the north, it’s sister country North Korea. North Korea and South Korea use to be one country under the name Korea, but after World War II the country was split. With the winter Olympics taking place in South Korea this year, the two countries are being thrown into the spotlight, and their similarities and differences are becoming more apparent to the world.

Some of these differences include the exact things that have drawn people towards South Korean culture. Things such as music which in South Korea includes the famous Gangnam Style by Psy, and the K-pop group BTS who performed at the 2017 American Music Awards. It includes foods such as kimchi, bulgogi, and Korean barbecue that are steadily growing in popularity throughout the states. It also includes huge brand names that many of you might not have known was based in South Korea. Some of these brand names include the car brand names, Hyundai, and Kia Motors, as well as the phone brand Samsung.

On top of South Korea being a very advanced country and drawing people’s attention to their language through pop culture, and big name industries, learning more about Korea their language can also help better your chances of getting a job, and there are many other reasons to learn Korean as well.

With Korea becoming so big, it may be useful to many in the near future, to learn the language of the country. Though it might seem intimidating, the best place to start is by learning hangul. After that the learning process doesn’t have to be tedious and boring. Use K-pop, TV shows, dramas, movies, even youtubers stationed in Korea to start honing you’re listening, and reading skills today.