Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Korean Music

After being here for a while, I've acquired a liking for Korean music. My favorite song is Haru Haru (Day by Day) by Big Bang. It is also a favorite song of the kids. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays a couple of the kids in my first class want to hear it before class. They say, "Teacher, Big Bang, Haru Haru." Today, there were about 14 kids huddled around the computer listening and singing along to the song. One time, in another one of my classes, one of the questions in the book was about a favorite band. Most of the kids in the class picked Big Bang. Most of the ones who didn't picked The Wonder Girls, a Korean girl group.

Big Bang is a popular boy band in Korea. Their song Haru Haru is about a boy and a girl. The girl has cancer but does not want to tell the boy and so she pretends to be in a relationship with his friend so that he'll hate her so that it won't be so hard on him when she dies. The boy's friends are all in on this lie. When the girl goes in for surgery, one of his friends calls from the hospital to tell him and then the boy finds out that she really did love him, but she is already dead when she is wheeled out of the operating room. The girl is Min Young. The pretend boyfriend is T.O.P. and the real boyfriend is G-Dragon. The music video for Haru Haru is below.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Answer to the Poll Question

Before Korean had its own alphabet, it used Chinese characters, which are still used today. What is the name for these characters?
  • Sanskrit-0
  • Hangeul-3
  • Hanja-2
  • Hieroglyphics-1

The answer is Hanja (한자). Sanskrit is Indian and Hieroglyphics are Egyptian. Hangeul (한글) is the Korean script. Hanja is not used much anymore. Many people in the younger generation cannot read Hanja. Middle-aged people can read it because it was used so much during their younger days. Older people can read it well and can speak Japanese as well, due to the Japanese colonization of Korea. Hangeul was not used much until after World War II, and then only in North Korea. This was because the elitists did not want the general public to be able to read, which was the intention behind the invention of the alphabet. During the 1990s, Hangeul came into widespread use in South Korea. Here in Pusan, the subway signs are written in Hangeul, Hanja, and English (for most stops the Romanization of Hangeul). Many of the road signs have all three written forms. Perhaps, the next generation will not be able to read it because children typically do not learn hanja in school until middle school. The newspapers used to be written in Hanja, but now people do not have to know Hanja to be able to know what is going on in the world.

Korean computers have a toggle on them so that one can type in Hanja. One has to type each syllable in Hangeul, then press the Hanja button. Then, there are a few choices for that syllable. Each Hanja character is one syllable. One has to know Korean to first to know what to put for each syllable because there is a definition by each Hanja character. 大 (대) is the first syllable in Daegu, Daeyeon, and Daejeon. It is seen on the signs at the bus station and in the subway stations. My subway station is 中洞 in Hanja, 중동 in Hangeul, and Jung-dong (joong-doang) in English.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rice For Sale

I don't eat much rice at home. I have a bag in the freezer that has hardly been used, but in case I wanted more rice and were too lazy to go to a big grocery store, I know of a few places that sell rice, even though I have never been in them and neither has anybody that I know. This is all thanks to my ability to read in Korean. The places that sell bags of rice have signs that say <쌀> on them. 쌀 (ssal) is the Korean word for rice in a bag. There are convenience stores that have that on them. Until recently, I would see that word, but I did not know what it meant. Now I know. I have been studying Korean a little bit. There is more than one word for rice. While bagged rice is 쌀, rice that is ready to eat is 밥 (bap). It is on the end of some dishes that contain rice, such as 김밥 (gimbap) and 비빔밥 (bibimbap). It's amazing how much you can learn when you know how to read and write.