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.)


  1. I think it's better to ask "How did you become interested in Korean language?" instead of "Why do you study Korean language?"
    Coz the reason why you keep studying, or the purpose why you study can change anytime.

    학원에서 중국어수업 들으면서 똑같은 형식의 질문("왜 중국어를 공부하나요?"을 수도 없이 받았는데, 제 대답은 그냥 간단합니다. "재미있으니까요."

    It's funny that nobody asks "Why do you study English?" Coz the answer is obvious: "필요하니까."


  2. Finally......I know the actual reason ^ ^

  3. Song 씨는 중국어 수업에서 한국말로 선생님한테 대답하셨어요? ㅋㅋㅋ 怎么不用中文回答呀?^^. I do really wish that one day I can say, "한국말은 참 간단합니다." That would be nice.

    Yesmaru 씨는 드디어 이유를 아는데 축하합니다. ^^

  4. 물론 중국어로 대답했죠 ㅋㅋ
    중국어는 제 취미생활 가운데 하나거든요 ㅎㅎㅎ

  5. Oh I see, 请多多指教. ^^

  6. Interesting comments and story on the Korean language! Here's a website that you might want to check out:

    한국어 wiki browser

  7. I've been hunted by that question a lot of times too. ^_^