Monthly Archives: December 2013

Watching K-drama with my mum

This is going to be an ambiguous post to try to avoid spoilers for those who still haven’t seen 너의 목소리가 들려 and want to.

It seems that plot twisters are completely wasted on my mum. Some 5 episodes before the judge’s secret even enters into plot considerations, she has already figured it out. What really happened to that guy? She has an explanation ready for that as well. And she’s right!!! Damn she’s good…

I told her nothing about the drama except for a few pointers about the first episode to get her to watch it in the first place. Every time she makes these small comments all I can say is 글쎄…

Worksheet: Numbers

It has taken me quiiiiite a while to get the hang of the Korean numbers.
Therefore I was really happy when I found several exercises in Chapter 9 of Basic Korean – A Grammar and Workbook (by Andrew Sangpil Byon).

I have taken 4 of the exercises from the book and written into a practice sheet so that you guys also have the possibility to practice.

There are two exercises for native Korean numbers and two for sino-Korean numbers. The first consists of translating translate numbers written in 한글 into figures, and the second is translating figures into 한글. Great practice.

I could have sat down and just made a list myself (as you can as well), but the beauty of the exercises from the book is that all of them have answer keys so I won’t end up misleading you through any systemic mistakes I might make. I will, however, not add more exercises for numbers from this book for copyright reasons.

I rediscovered this book just a few days ago can greatly recommend it. I will add doing a review of it to my to-do list so you can see what it contains and why I like it.

Answers will be added shortly in a separate document.

Download worksheet in pdf-format:Worksheet, numbers

Grammar: Deferential speech level (formal polite)

So far I haven’t been writing in the deferential speech level so I decided to work more with it to put it all in place mentally. Here are my notes with sample sentences based on examples and corrected exercises from “Basic Korean Grammar”. I found it in my desk drawer when cleaning out – no need to shop for new books when I can go shopping in my own drawer!

When to use the formal polite speech level:
Public and/or formal communication settings. E.g. broadcasting, public speech, business meetings, conference presentations and the like.

Declarative: VS + -습니다 / -ㅂ니다
먹다 => 점심을 먹습니다 = (I) eat lunch
느리다 => 기차를 느립니다 = the train is slow
배우다 => 영어를 배웁니다 = (I) learn English
뜨겁다 => 물이 뜨겁습니다 = the water is hot

Interrogative: VS + -습니까? / -ㅂ니까?
춥다 => 날씨가 춥습니까? = is it (the weather) cold?
쉽다 => 시험이 쉽습니까? = is the test easy?
좋다 => 기분이 좋습니까? = is your feeling good?
시끄럽다 => 집이 시끄럽습니까? = is the house noisy?

Imperative: VS + -(으)십시오
거너다 => 길을 건너십시오 = cross the street
던지다 => 공을 던지십시오 = throw the ball
두드리다 => 문을 두드리십시오 = knock on the door
입다 => 코트를 입으십시오 = wear the coat

Propositive: VS + -(으)십시다
빌리다 => 책을 빌립시다 = (let us) borrow the book
타다 => 버스를 탑시다 = (let us) take the bus
주다 => 기회를 줍시다 = (let’s) give (them) a chance

Nice to know:

VS + -겠- + -습니다: 1st or 2nd person ~ intention
먹다 => 잘 먹겠슴니다 = I will eat well
어디로 가시겠습니까? = where will (you) go?
열심히 공부하겠습니다 = (I) will study hard
신용 카드로 지불하시겠습니까? = will you pay by credit card?

VS + -겠- + -습니다: about 3rd person or other entity ~ assumption or idea
드라마가 재미있겠습니다 = I guess the drama will be interesting
내일은 춥겠습니다 = (I guess that) as for tomorrow, (it) will be cold

Remember also subject honorific suffix: VS + -(으)시-
가다 => 갑니다
가시다 => 가십니다

Both verbs mean “to go”, but their social meanings are different, 가시다 being more respectful. -(으)시- can be used both when speaking to someone that one respects and about someone that one respects.

Polite formal vs. polite speech level:
It is not uncommon to mix the deferential speech pattern with the polite level (-요). For instance by introducing oneself in deferential speech and then switching to polite for a less formal atmosphere.

Thinking back on past language exams

In April I sat the TOPIK, but it was not the first language exam I ever sat. Here is a brief overview of how I learned languages previously.
In grade school I studied both English, German and French, while I continued only English and French in highschool. Thinking back, we had to have a fairly extensive knowledge of the languages we were studying.

Officially I started learning English in school when I was 9 years old, but due to having family abroad I was so keen to learn that my parents had introduced a few things before then. By the time I reached highschool, I joined the advanced 2-year course where we basically started out with Chaucer and then worked our way up through history to Virginia Wolf. We were only five studens in that class and for some odd reason we were all mathematics/science majors rather than linguistics majors…

Every week we had to do a translation of one page from English to Danish in class without dictionaries. At home we had to do a longer translation the other way around and for that we could use dictionaries, but it was actually more important to be able to translate so the language didn’t seem stilted. Besides the translation exercises, we had to hand in weekly essays.
Having a rather extensive vocabulary was key to survive the translation exercises and there was no way around just looking up every new word we came across and read a lot.

I never became great friends with German grammar. I did try, but never quite came to fully appreciate it. I studied German from 6th-9th grade. To prepare for my 9th grade oral exam, my father called in a favour with a German friend whose wife happened to be a German teacher. We had a one day 학원 style session going over the syllabus.
Honestly, I was more frightened by her than by the actual exam. Her goal with that single day was fluency, fluency, fluency! Or as fluent as possible given my level. I did have a fair grasp of the vocabulary, the hurdle was getting me to use it. We (deliberately chosen over ‘I’ since that woman could make vocabulary and grammar run from the pages of a book deep into the creases of your brain) succeeded and I got an A at the exam, which I was soooo proud of.

Since that exam 10 years ago I think I have spoken German roughly 15 minutes in total. And they were all within the last year so it did not sound pretty.

I started learning French in 7th grade and decided to keep it as an A-level in highschool. In highschool we had to write weekly essays, read articles and quirky French literature. Again the main focus was to get us to speak comfortably as well as write somewhat eloquently. There were odd tips for the written exam such as “remember to use subjonctif” since certain things were really considered grade boosters by the examiners.
From the very beginning of my French journey, I started hanging out in a French book café close to my school. I invested in some French Harry Potter books, and generally just soaked up the French atmosphere. I loved going there, and it became “my place” for several years. French became a daily part of my life, watching French movies and reading French books in my spare time. Unfortunately the owner has passed away and while the store remains, I realised how much my feelings for the language also depended on coming into the café, having a chat with her about my studies, drinking coffee, browsing through books and DVDs with no subtitles. When I saw the notice in the newspaper that she had passed away, I cried. I did not learn French for anybody but myself, but the set-up around my joy of French took a very serious hit. Maybe my francofile joy of the language itself will return at some point. For now I stick to reading the occasional French website.

Common features:
I remember that drilling was just considered a necessity for certain things all the way back in upper elementary school. Learning irregular verbs was one of them. In English, we were given a lot of sheets to memorise and then we had a test to see if it stuck. There was no “you’ll pick it up eventually”, we just had to get it over with. I suppose it’s also “low-hanging fruit” in terms of exam points and general fluency. If you consistently conjugate verbs incorrectly, everything you say will sound off or even worse, not be understood at all.

I got a Korean verb book for Christmas from my brother and his family. There are soooo many verbs I simply don’t know, and yet they are crucial verbs. It annoys me, it is a serious issue from a learning perspective, and it is something I must deal with. There is no way around it but following the butt-to-bench advice my brother always throws at me.

Have you studied other languages besides Korean? Did you follow a particular “method”? Is it different from what you do now? What motivated you? Please leave a comment.

Grammar: -거든

-거든 has two separate usages:

Usage #1: explanatory sentence ending “it’s because”, “you see”
-거든 is a one-shape ending that is preceded by the past tense marker or the future tense marker.

It can be used to add an explanation to a previous sentence or to explain where you have a specific bit of information from.

From episode 7 in 너의 목소리가 들려:
관우: (…) 얘가 혹시 어제 아는 동생이에요? 사고쳤다는 그?
혜성: 아.. 네. 혹시 이상한 오해하면 어떡하지? 내가 좀 쓸데없이 책임감이 있는 편이라 얘 보호자로 엮였거든요.

Usage #2: “if”
This usage is somewhat similar to -(으)면 but differs in that -거든 is usually followed by either a command, a proposition or a promise.

Example from Korean – A Comprehensive Grammar p. 316:
“If you don’t have enough money, tell me” would take -거든 because of the command “tell me” that follows.
돈이 모자라거든 나한테 말 해.

Beware of the certainty with which something will happen:
-(으)면 is carries less certainty than -거든. That is, when using -거든, something is considered quite likely to happen.

Example from Korean – A Comprehensive Grammar p. 316:
“If the children enter university, I guess we’ll move”
아이들이 대학교에 가거든 이사를 하겠어요.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you will have a great time with the people you love.

I’m really a food-person so naturally I’m curious about what you will have for dinner/lunch (depending on your traditions where you’re from).

In my family we have a biiiig dinner on the 24th and a biiiiig lunch on the 25th.

Since it’s just me and my parents for dinner this year we will have duck (last year my brother and his family flew in from London so we had goose, my sister always has her own celebration with her husband and children).
With the duck comes red cabbage, “browned potatoes” (sugar-glazed potatoes) and gravy. For dessert we have “kærnemælksfromage” which I have absolutely no idea how to translate… It’s a special type of pudding based on buttermilk (no cheese inspite of the ‘fromage’ in the name). My mother puts in a whole almond (without skin) and the person who finds it gets the “almond present”.

The dessert is special for my family since basically the rest of Denmark eats “ris à la mande” which is a Danish dessert (despite the name) that is made from mixing rice porridge with whipped cream, chopped almonds, and sometimes a bit of liquer. My mum has made a different dessert since my sister was a little girl since she could never stand rice porridge and it would be a shame if a child absolutely detested the dessert on Christmas Eve. So now it’s our tradition that we keep even if my sister does not celebrate Christmas Eve with us. Afterwards we have chocolates and Christmas cookies (my mother’s mother’s mother’s recipes) after opening our presents.

What do you eat for Christmas?

Hair sticks!

A picture today. Yep that is me… I’ve been experimenting with hair sticks for a while (okay, I admit to having a bit of a thing for the clothes and hair-dos in historical dramas) since hair sticks are both practical and elegant. This is one of my two go-to hair-dos.This photo was taken a while ago when I got the carved bone hair stick that is peeking out from that very unruly bun. My other usual hair-do is a lot more slick and business-like. Both take approximately 20 seconds to fix.


Do any of you out there also use hair sticks? Any suggestions for new hair-do?

너의 목소리가 들려 11 disc DVD box

It has arrived!!! The DVD box with 너의 목소리가 들려 has finally arrived 😀
Now I know what to do in the Christmas days 😉

The outer box looked like it had had a rough journey, but the actual DVD box was safely wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap.


I had a brief scare when customs stopped it saying they needed further documentation, and that if it took over 10 days (14 from first registration in DK) they would send it back to Korea. I freaked out just a little bit since I have once been the unlucky buyer of some books the post returned to Korea due to a delay in information from their side so I called them to ask how to make it work as smoothely as possible. The lady was quite nice and helpful, and I sent the things they asked for straight away. Thankfully it was solved within a day, and they have clearly been careful with the DVD box, folding it nicely back into the bubble wrap after seeing the box and not having opened the actual box.


Okay, as usual, first the facts:

Title: 너의 목소리가 들려 (I can hear your voice)
Year: 2013
Broadcasting network: SBS
Number of episodes: 18
Price: 115,000 won excl. shipping (reduced from 121,000 won)
Place of purchase: Gmarket
Weight: 2043 g/ 4lb 8oz (for real, it’s quite heavy)


Contents of the DVD box:
11 discs: 1-9 contain the actual drama episodes, 10-11 contain commentaries, interviews, and NGs.
Scripts for episodes 7 and 18 (I already love these!!!).
A small “diary” for 수하 (the one he writes as a child and young adult after the trial where “짱변” testified against his father’s murderer and he subsequently lost contact with her for over a decade).
Signed postcards with the four main characters.

All of this was packed very neatly. The very first thing you find is one of the scripts.


When taking out the scripts you see the photo book and the post cards.


Oi! Here we have the first of the actual DVD cases and 수하’s diary.


Under the diary you find the other DVD cases.

One more shot of the two scripts:


The scripts will get a separate review once I have familiarised myself a bit more with them 🙂

Writing practice for beginners: trace and copy style

Not everybody has a book for practicing writing 한글 and how the apperance of some letters change slightly when they combine with others into syllables. Here is a practice document that I think could be useful for beginners who are not completely clueless about 한글 (for those who are, check out the videos in the menu “Korean starter kit” above), but feel that they need just a bit more practice.

The file consists of three pages with simple words that are very good to know.
#1: A table with the consonants and vowels and their combinations.
#2: Greetings and words related to education
#3: Words related to the body.
Translations are deliberately not included since it will also act as an exercise for looking up words written in 한글 whether by typing on computer or using a paper dictionary, but as for the words relating to the body, I can reveal that words have been listed going from head to toe 😉

File: Beginner Writing Practice

Still feeling overwhelmed? Check out twoChois’s selection of penmanship practice books. For instance Step by Step Korean Penmanship seems like a really pedagogical option.