I was just thinking yesterday about the long strange strange road learning Korean has been. I must be getting too old for this.
I started Learning Korean back in 1982, probably before most of you reading this were born. There were no cell phones, no DVDs, and no Internet as we know them today. If you were very lucky you could find some decent tape recordings. In 1983 I moved into a Korean boarding house in the Los Angeles area and lived and went to church with Koreans full time. This was easy for me because I had no other real family, so to speak, so Koreans became my family. In late 1984 I first visited Korea for 3 months, then by late 1985 I could read and communicate, albeit awkwardly, in Korean. In 1986 I took the only available college level class in my area, an introduction and basic grammar course.
Notice the date of this document? But learning grammar and speaking a language (as any Korean learning English has painfully learned) are vastly different, In real life people do not adhere to grammatical rules or textbook pronunciation, and often what people 'think' they are saying is not that same as the sound actually coming out of their mouth or heard by the listener.
Anyway, that college level course was far too easy compared to the Korean school at the church I was attending, so I persuaded the teacher to allow me to write a Korean essay in lieu of homework. The essay I chose to write translates loosely to "My Opinion of International Marriage and Happiness." A topic I chose because my relationships with Korean girls had been soured repeatedly by exactly the kind of mean prejudicial parental meddling you see on Korean drama -- you may have thought "Those are gross exaggerations, no parents could be that bigoted or selfish" but I can verify from experience that that kind of attitude was quite common. So I wrote the following essay and submitted it near the end of the semester --the professor's wife, who worked for a local Korean news paper, was so impressed that she got it published. I have to say, reading it now, that I was entirely too idealistic -- you might even say I was full of cr@p --oh well I submit it for examination here (sorry if I break the screen):
Well, I did marry shortly after that article was published - as fate would have it, I met a Korean gal whose parents were also deceased, like mine, so we had a relationship without the interference of parents. However, in the long run I think it would have been better to have a larger family with parents -- problems, prejudice, and all.
I continued to study Korean over the next 20 years, but study soon took a backseat to work and raising a family. I continued going to Korean church (attendance off and on) and fellowshipping with Koreans but my lovely Korean wife always insisted on speaking English at home -- she's determined to become "American" you see -- and now she says "I have lived in this country longer than Korea, I studied and earned my citizenship -- this is my country now! I am American!" While I softly mumble "I am Korean - Korea is my heart's homeland."
Now in the last 3 years, since my life has finally allowed me more time, I have poured myself into study of Korean -- often to the point where I am so dizzy and my head is so full I cannot even communicate one coherent thought. But one thing I can say -- if I don't die young:
만일 내가 일찍 죽지 안 하면 이 언어를 다 (다아아아아) 공부하고 배운 담에 다(다아아아아)들 죽었어! 드고 봐라
Maybe I'm not too old for this...