Wednesday, August 30, 2006

한국 피아노 왕자

It was raining heavily in Seoul. It was May 2002 and I had just arrived in Itaewon. The spring season normally brought on a lot of rainfall. I expected it but there was nothing much I could do except to "glue" myself to the TV inside my hotel room.

I was watching a talkshow in ArirangTV channel and the guest for that show was Yiruma. The name Yiruma (이루마) sounds very much Japanese but no, he is a Korean. I had no idea who Yiruma was but was interested enough to know what he was good at. From the show, I kinda of knew that he was a new age pianist and he was Korea's answer to Richard Clayderman and Yukie Nishimura.

After the rain stopped, I took the subway to COEX Mall and bought my first Korean CD - "First Love" by Yiruma.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

산 및 들

View from Mt Namsan - Go We Bong 고위봉(494m)

This picture which I took from the top of Mt Namsan in Kyongju probably best illustrates the title of my blog "Mountain and Field". A vast plain of fertile field surrounded and sheltered by mountain ranges that seem to stretch to the end of the world. A view of tranquility and harmony. A world at peace with its consciousness.

Monday, August 28, 2006

같이 등산할 까요?

It was middle of October 1998 and I was in Busan. The autumn colour has not set in but the weather was cool and ideal for mountain hiking. It was my only off-day of the trip and my destination was Mt Geumjeong (금정산-金井山). A literal translation of Mt Geumjeong is Golden Well Mountain. The legend has it that a fish from the heaven descended to a well in the mountain and the well water glittered like gold ever since. The most prominent temple of Busan, Beomeosa (범어사-梵魚寺), also got its name from the same legend. Beomeosa means "Heaven Fish Temple" literally.

The main entrance into Beomeosa

I took the subway and exited from the Beomeosa station. While there were buses going up to Beomeosa, I decided to take a walk up the slope and enjoyed the roadside scenery. It took me an hour though to reach Beomeosa which was supposed to be one of the five greatest temples in Korea. The original Beomeosa, as I knew, was built in the 7th century but like many other Korean historical relics, it was destroyed during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and only to be rebuilt later. Of all the things about the place, I enjoyed the conifers, the pine trees and the peaceful charm.

The main hall of Beomeosa

However, Beomeosa was not my final destination for the day. I was determined to trek up the 800m high Mt Geumjeong. I followed up a rocky stream which was to be found to one side of Beomeosa. I thought I would be the only soul trekking up the slope but to my surprise there were quite a number of Koreans going up the same route and they did it almost effortlessly. Before I came to Korea, I didn't know that mountain hiking was a leisure activity among the Koreans. It isn't a leisure activity in Singapore for sure but then again there aren't any mountain in Singapore to begin with.

The rocky stream leading up to the peak of Mt Geumjeong

It took me almost three hours from Beomeosa to get to the peak of Mt Geumjeong. While maybe not the peak. I was almost there but I couldn't figure out how to make the final ascent to the highest point "Gomobong" (고모봉-姑母峰). I was more like 795 metres above sea level before I called it quit. I took a picture of the weathered peak just to remind myself that I almost did it that year. From where I took my picture, many groups of Korean family were having their sopung (소풍-picnic) and eating their kimbap (김밥-seaweed roll). I relish the idea of a picnic after a mountain hike with my family and eating gimbap under the cool weather of autumn. 등산하는 것이 마음에 들어요.

Mt Geumjeong - 801.5 metres above sea level

Sunday, August 27, 2006

도우미 어떻게 지내요?

There are two things that I will always remember fondly about the one-week Kyung Hee immersion programme. One of them was the language lesson and the other was the dowoomi (도우미) programme. Dowoomi are actually Kyunghee undergraduates who have volunteered their time to play host to foreign students like us and to help us settle into our new environment. 도우미 is derived from the verb stem 돕다 which means to help. Frankly, for our one-week stay in Kyung Hee, there was not much help we needed but we still enjoyed the good company of our dowoomi.

We were supposed to be introduced to our dowoomi on our first day of school. Some dowoomi came but not all, as the rest of them had other study commitments to attend to. But all of us eventually met our dowoomi all thanks to the hard work of the staff of Institute of International Education. While it was meant for our dowoomi to follow us through our one week stay, not all of our dowoomi were able to make it for various reasons. So I guessed that staff at IIE must have been busy making phone calls so that enough dowoomi turned up for our full-day field trip, farewell dinner and closing ceremony on Saturday, 25 Mar 06 - a day before our departure.

NUS Ext students with dowoomi outside National Museum of Korea

On our field trip day, about two-thirds of the dowoomi were fresh faces but that did not quite affect us. We still had a good time together visiting Kyung Bok Goong (경복궁-景福宮), National Museum of Korea (국립중앙박물관-國立中央博物館) and Cheong Gye Cheon (청계천-淸溪川). We ended our day with the farewell dinner (환송만찬-歡送晩餐) and closing ceremony at a restaurant in In Sa Dong (인사동-仁寺洞).

Farewell dinner. Able to tell Korean and Singaporean apart?

Dowoomi made a lot of different to our stay in Kyung Hee. That personal touch can never be replaced by anything else. While we might not have know each other for a long time, the short period of acquaintanceship left nothing but good memory. 도우미들이 만나서 반가웠어요. 일주일 동안 도와 주는데 매우 감사합니다. 김솔암 씨, 오랜만이죠? 잘 지내고 있나요? 왜 연락하지 않아요? 그럼 김솔암 씨 항상 행복하시고 건강하세요. ^^

Saturday, August 26, 2006

처음부터 지금까지

처음 - The Beginning

Four years ago in Kyongju, I was waiting to cross a street in the city when a Korean man came up and spoke to me in Korean. Apparently, he had mistaken me for a Korean. I replied to him in English that I don't understand Korean. Immediately he switched and spoke to me in a mixture of simple English and Korean. I guessed that he was asking me where I came from. I told him I came from Singapore. He said that Singapore, beautiful. I smiled. He went on speaking in Korean and the only words I could pick out was "hangook myon" (한국면-韓國面). I used my hand to pull out an outline of my face and repeated "hangook myon?" to confirm that he was actually trying to tell me that my face looked like a Korean. He nodded his head. I grinned.

Back then, I have not started my learning of Korean language. So I was pleasantly surprised at myself for guessing correctly what the Korean man was trying to say. But guessing was not something that I was satisfied with. On returning from my Korea trip, I started my search for Korean language course, textbook, dictionary and website. I thought that it was that "accidental" meeting which set me off on my Korean language learning journey.

Four years ago, Hanryu (한류-韓流) has yet to reach the shore of Singapore. The opportunity for Korean language learning was very limited. The Singapore Korean School was one of those few institutions that offered Korean language course. But when I checked their website, there was no updated information on upcoming language course. In fact, for more than a year, the language course information in SKS's website was not updated. Maybe there could be courses running, but I never called to check. The Cambridge School of Languages was another institution which I checked on. I wrote several enquiry e-mails at different time to them but they all bounced because the school's mailbox had reached its size limit. It was quite disappointing. Because of that experience, I thought that the school was not my type of institution and I decided to give it a miss.

I also checked on the National University of Singapore's website but there was no Korean language courses offered. Finally, I had to settle for self-study. I bought three Korean textbooks and one dictionary from the bookstore. None of them was published in Korea. The dictionary was published in the US and the three textbooks were published in places like London, Taiwan and Hong Kong. I self-studied Korean language for about three years. But there is a limit to how far one can learn through self-study. The downside of self-study was apparent to me. I was strong in writing, average in reading and very poor in speaking and hearing.

In August 2005, I decided to search the web again for Korean language courses in Singapore. I was in luck when I checked the NUS's website. Korean language courses finally made their way into NUS. I submitted my application form for the Conversational Basic Korean Level 1 which started in October and the rest was history.

지금 - The Present

It was almost a year since I started my Korean language programme at NUS Extension. The progress I had made in my Korean language over the last 10 months was way much more than what I had achieved over the 3 years of self-study. For my course now, I am using textbooks published by Sogang University and a respectable English-Korean dictionary published in Korea. I am grateful to my Korean teacher for undertaking the task of setting up a comprehensive curriculum for Korean language learning in Singapore and to Hanryu for creating a sizeable demand for Korean langauge courses and set the momentuan for the development of better and higher level Korean language courses locally. Today, I am still a beginner in Korean language and I will like to remain a beginner in my learning of the language.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

싱가폴에 괴물이 올 거야

한국에서 가장 인기 있는 괴물이 곧 싱가포르에서 나다날 거예요. 이주 후에 9월7일부터 극장에서 볼 수 있어요. 이 영화가 재미있을 것 같아서 보기를 너무 기대해요. 언제나 괴물이 있는 영화를 좋아해요. 나는 괴물도 좋아하겠어요.


All these years, we have gotten quite used to Hollywood monster movies and those american beefcakes, marines or special forces who go around slaughtering monsters mindlessly. It will be refreshing to see how a simple Korean family turn themselves into monster-busters in Gway-Mool (The Host). In two weeks time, this movie could well create a new "korean monster wave" in Singapore.


- Trailer
- Trailer
- Interview
- On the set
- On the set
- On the set
- Interview

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

현지학습 - 남이섬








三月中的南怡岛,树木还是光秃秃的。草地也还是黄褐色的。春天的气息还没来临,拍起照来不是很好看。 就是少了春天的绿,秋天的红和冬天的白。如果有下一次,一定不会选择三月去南怡岛。^^

Sunday, August 20, 2006

뭐가 가장 중유해요?

선생님: 무슨 생일 성물을 받고 싶어요?
학생 가: 돈을 받고 싶어요. ㅋㅋㅋ

선생님: 여행할 때 뭐가 필요해요?
학생 나: 돈이 필요해요. ㅋㅋㅋ

선생님: 뭘 가장 좋아해요?
학생 다: 돈을 제일 좋아해요. ㅋㅋㅋ
선생님: 건강이 중유하지 않아요? 싱가포르 사람 . . . . .

물론 돈이 가장 중요하죠! Of course, money is very important in life but in our Korean class it has achieved "the most important" status. I don't think we are really crazy about money when we keep using money as the subject or object in our sentences. In fact, we always laugh at our own shallow replies.

However, there is a certain lure to using 돈 especially for beginners whose Korean vocabulary is still very limited. 돈 is universal and almost anything can be directly or indirectly linked to 돈. When "돈" is used, our sentence will make sense most of the time especially when 돈 is used as a reason as to why we do or don't do something.

  • 돈이 있으면 유럽에서 여행할 거에요.
  • 돈이 없어서 여행할 수 없어요.
  • 돈을 좋아하니까 투자(投資)에 관심이 많아요.
  • 돈이 없어서 집에서 자요.
So I think it is quite alright for students to use "돈" in the sentence-making exercises without feeling embarass about it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

처음 한국 텔렌트를 만났다

우리 선생님 배현경(좌) 및 친절한 양미경

Two days ago, 양미경(梁美京) and the Korean Ambassador to Singapore, visited the NUS Extension. I have no idea who is 양미경 because I do not watch the highly popular korean drama 대장금(大長今). Apparently, she acted as 한상궁(韓尙宮) in 대장금. It was a Thursday night and we were supposed to have our language lesson but because of the impending visit of 양미경 씨, we ended our lesson one and a half hour earlier.

양미경 was here in Singapore to promote the Korean culture and to mark the 15th Anniversary of the ASEAN-Korea Cultural Exchange Programme. Her time of stay in Singapore was less than 48 hours. So it was quite a privilege for us, the students of the Korean Language Programme, to have an half hour face-to-face session with her.

The visit of 양미경 and the Korean Ambassador to NUS Extension showed the importance which the Korean authority has accorded to the Korean Language Programme at the Park Mall campus. In the Ambassador's short speech to the students, he wished that the Korean Language would make its way into the NUS main campus at Kent Ridge. I do hope that his wish can become a reality. That would mean that I can continue with my language study to a higher level in Singapore.

Another thing worthed mentioning was that we were treated to a buffet by the school after the event. Wow! Never thought I could get something back from the school after paying so much for the course fees. I ate to my heart's content. It was indeed a satisfying day for me. ^^

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

머나지 않게 해주세요

韩国映畵《時越愛》来到新加坡时被翻成《穿越爱情海》。其实我觉得《時越愛》这片名在意境上已经相当完美了。再把它翻成《穿越爱情海》无疑是画蛇添足。可是我也明白,新加坡人的中文程度并不是很好。如果沿用《時越愛》,也许会有很多人不知所云。不过这些年来,我大概也只记得它的意大利文片名-Il Mare. Il Mare 是我看的第一部韩语片。影片播映时,韩国连续剧还没在本地盛行。韩国连续剧真在本地风靡起来,也是三四年后的事了。当时,半句韩语都听不懂的我,还是很欣赏这部朴实无华却能引人深思的影片。时间和爱到底有什么关系呢?

我喜欢影片对爱的剖析。例如,这世上有三样东西是不能压抑的。它们是咳嗽,贫穷和爱。你越想压抑,它们就越要表露出来。或,爱是痛苦的,不是因为它已经停止了,而是因为它还在延续 。。。。。


However, the most intriguing part of this movie is in the playing out of the relationship between time and love. It kinda set me thinking about the possibility in real life for two persons to be separated in time and yet able to communicate and know each other well enough to want to meet in the future. I thought that it may afterall be possible if we can accept that time is relative in a way that different people can have different perception about the length of time.

If you can imagine this. You have been reading my blog for two years. Even though we have not met, to you, it may seem that you have "known" me for two years. You will know the cafe which I like to visit on a free afternoon. The time and station where I took the last train home. The people whom I like and the things which I dislike. But to me, I will not know of your existence. The time that I "know" you has yet to start. There is a different between the time you "know" me and the time I "know" you. This "time-lapse" between us is two years.

If you so decide to drop me a comment in my blog after two years, the time that I "know" you will only start to tick after that. We could have enjoyed chatting with each other online to the extent that we agree to meet each other one week later. To me, the time to the meeting will be exactly one week later. While for you, you have been thinking about meeting me since reading my blog two years ago, it will seem to you that you have "waited" two years to meet me. Due to our different in time (as in the time we know each other) perception, "time" has effectively "separated" us. In a certain sense, the cyberworld has become that magical mailbox in the movie that relayed messages across "time".

How then do love "survive" in a "time-warped" zone? The movie may have given the answer. When Ji-Hyun was still unable to let go of her love for her ex-boyfriend, Jung-Jae was killed in an accident and never made it for their appointment. But when Ji-Hyun's heart finally fell for Jung-Jae, the time was turned back and Jung-Jae "survived" to meet her in the future (this was the movie-ending scene). It strikes me that love can transcend a "time-warped" zone only if two hearts are connected. But If one of them does not love the other, the "future" will kinda "die" and there will not be any future for them to meet.

Do you believe in miracle? 要能欣赏这部电影,你必须也要能相信奇迹。

Sunday, August 13, 2006

왜 한국말을 공부해요?

Why do you study Korean language? This question was asked by the teacher during my first day of Korean language class. I replied in English that it was interesting so I took up the language course. I knew I was not being honest but I did not think that anyone would be interested in a long story anyway.

As I progressed through the course, the question was asked again. I was then able to reply in simple Korean, "한국말을 재미있어서 한국말을 공부해요." The reply was nothing new except that it was said in Korean. What I literally said was the Korean language is interesting so I study it.

The next time the same question was asked, I decided to gave a more common reply, "한국 드라마를 좋아해서 한국말을 공부해요." It literally means I like Korean drama so I study Korean language. 선생님(Teacher) did not let me go with that reply. She continued to ask, "무슨 한국 드라마를 좋아해요?" I was caught when she asked which Korean drama do I like. It was not that I could not reply in Korean but rather I do not watch Korean drama so I really have no answer for that.

As I learnt more about the Korean language, my reply became slightly more sophisticated. I would say, "한국 역사에 관심이 많아서 한국말을 공부해요." It means I am very interested in the Korean history so I study Korean language. 선생님 continued to ask, "무슨 한국 역사인을 좋아해요?" I was not caught again when she went on to ask which Korean historical person do you like. I was more or less honest with that reply. I did read about the Korean history and was particularly aggrieved by the impact and the residual effect of the Korean war had on the Korean people. My reply to my teacher was, "이순신을 좋아해요." I like Yi Sun-Shin (Admiral Yi Sun-Shin is a Korea's hero).

What really sparked off my interest for the Korean language is actually the word "희망" (希望-hope) which is pronounced as "Hee Mang". This pronounciation is exactly the same as what my mother will say "hope" to me in her Teochew dialect. Of course, she has a lot of "hee mang" for me as well. I first came in contact with the word when I had the opportunity in 1998 to visit an orphanage in Jinhae (진해-鎭海). The name of the orphanage was called "희망의 집" or the "House of Hope". My closeness to the Korean language was immediately established then.

Knowing that, how would I then reply people as to why I study Korean language. I could not have said, "희망이라서 한국말을 공부해요." It will sound strange to tell people that because of hope I study Korean language. But does it ever matter what my reply was? It has been an interesting experience since I started with the Korean language course. The reason behind why I study the language has become somewhat redundant for me. If I am to give an honest reply now, I will have just say, "그냥 한국말을 좋아하니까 한국말을 공부하고 있어요." (Just like Korean language so I am studying the language.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

경희 대학에 갔다왔다

올해 3월20일부터 26일까지 싱가포르 국립 대학 한국어 프로그램의 학생들이 함께 한국 경희 대학교에 한국어 연습하러 갔어요. 그번이 아마 싱가포르 학생 처음 경희 대학에서 한국어를 공부했어요. 그 때에는 참 우리한테 즐거운 1주일이었어요. 수업이 재미있었어요. 친절한 선생님들이 한국어를 많이 가르쳐셨어요. 도우미들도 많이 도와 주고 우리들과 같이 여기저기 구경했어요. 또 MBC 방송국, 남미섬, 경복궁, 국립 중앙 박물관하고 청계천에 가봤어요. 1주일밖에 경희 대학에서 할 수 없어서 많이 아쉬웠어요. 정말 좋은 시간을 보냈어요. 경희대를 그리워요!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

우리 나라 - 싱가포르

This is my country flag. As with anything official, there will always be meaning tagged to each of its features. The red and white horizontal sections represent universal brotherhood and purity respectively. The crescent moon represents a young and rising nation. The five stars represent our nation's ideal of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

Here is my interpretation of the flag. The red and white horizontal sections show respect for our largest neighbour which flag, incidentally, has the same colour combination and layout. The crescent moon shows respect to the muslim community who have lived on this land since antiquity. The five stars show respect to the Chinese majority at a time when many were still passionately linked to their motherland which flag, incidentally, also has five stars. To me, this flag means more than it official meanings. It encapsulates the state of society at the time when the nation was given self-rule and subsequently independence.

I am not too sure if there is any country in the world that has independence thrusted upon them. But independence was not what we had wanted back in 1965. I always imagine this, a large family was expelled from their clan without much money and food to survive on their own. Under this situation, even the most capable person would break down and cry. Today, forty one years later, I fully believe that miracle is not luck. It will happen for those who dare to dream, believe and work hard.

싱가포르에 오신것을 환영합니다.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

클래식 동영상 "그랬나봐"

그랬나봐的意思大概是:好像就那样了吧。人生如果有错过,回首当年时也只能 ~ 就那样了吧。遗憾的人生或许比较接近现实,所以无法成全的爱更容易感动人。The Classic《爱有天意》或《不可不信缘》我还没完整地看过。看哪天有空再找DVD来看。

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

누가 신문에 나오셨나요?

오늘 선생님한테서 이메일을 받았어요. 선생님은 "我报" 있으면 알려 달라고 하셨어요. 선생님하고 학생 한명 신문에 나오셨어요. 그래서 선생님은 오늘 아침에 "我报" 얻기 위해 MRT역에 갔아요. 하지만 "我报" 찾지 못했는데요. 글을 쓴 기자도 찾지 못했어요. 그 분은 출장했거든요. 아이구!

나는 이메일을 읽은 후에 친한 친구들한테 문자로 오늘의 "我报" 있는지 없는지 물어 봤어요. 운기 좋아서 그런지 한 친구가 신문이 가지고 있어요. 저녁 퇴근하자마자 그 친구의 사무실에 가다가 신문을 가지고 갔어요. 我报 나온 글은 아래과 같아요.

因为韩剧 努力学韩文

来自韩国的韩文老师裴炫灵(左), 发掘陈瑞琴(右) 当教师助理 [我报照片]

原本只是纯粹为了兴趣而上课学韩文,但陈瑞琴的学习成绩突飞猛进,在短短两年内脱离学生的身份,摇身变成了教师助理 (teacher assistant)!
回来新加坡之后,她积极寻找适合的课程,觉得NUS Extension的课程内容似乎不错,让对韩文一窍不通的她下定决心上课学习。




她后来嫁给一名旅居新加坡的马来西亚华人,因此随丈夫在我国定居。一开始,她在私人学校授课,过后才转到NUS Extension,前后教学长达七年。


裴炫炅还自己编写教材,并且已经结集成书,由Singapore University Press出版。首版600本在短短的半年内就都售买完了,接下来将会进行重印。

摘自“我报”生活版 二零零六年八月一日 - 林伟杰 报道

주의: 신문에 틀린 부분도 있다. 사실은 선생님이 피아노를 잘 칠 줄 모른다고 하셨다.