Where to begin??
I've been at the forums for a couple of weeks now, but I think I should fully de-lurk and introduce myself. My name's Ed, and I am currently a PhD student of linguistics. I'm actually fluent in Indonesian and investigating Balinese for my dissertation. That's why I integrate Balinese into some of my posts - sorry
I took one year of Korean a couple of years ago, in preparation for a linguistics conference at Yonsei University the following summer. And it was a good thing, too - I stayed at a good friend's place, and her parents did not speak any English at all, so I was thrown into the deep end with only one-year's worth of Korean language instruction, so to speak. But it was great - lots of good memories.
What got me interested in things Korean though is interesting: A PBS special (about 15 years ago, I think) where deaf Scottish percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie goes to South Korea to experience Korean percussion such as 사물놀이, 풍물, and so on. She finally goes to 진도 and visits the proponents of 씻김굿, an exorcism rite that is a 진도 specialty. I was awestruck. I have yet to witness the rite, but it is one of my goals. (Does anyone else remember this program?)
As for myself, I've been a performer of Central Javanese and Balinese gamelan (percussion) and dance for over 15 years - I still see myself on Balinese television when the group I was participating in at the time did a tour over there and a television crew was there to film one of our concerts. That's a weird experience, as the footage is from eight years ago! Anyhow, since I am a percussion nut, I couldn't resist buying a 장구 and 꽹과리 when I was in Korea ㅋㅋㅋ.
I love hot and spicy food (both eating a preparing), so Korean cuisine is right up there (I even have a couple of cookbooks in Korean - I'm trying to improve my cooking vocab).
Also, learning Korean, specifically the uses of 존댓말 vs. 반말, actually helped me a lot in understanding speech level usage in languages where the systems are much more complex, like in Balinese and Javanese. It's just that the Korean system is much more transparent, I think. For example, to say "Are you going now?" in Korean (please correct me if I'm wrong):
존댓말: 지금 가요?/지금 가세요?/지금 갑니까?/지금 가십니까?
반말: 지금 가?
In comparison, to say this in Balinese:
High Balinese (to high-caste members): Iratu budal mangkin? [You going now?]
Middle Balinese (to strangers): Jero lunga mangkin? [You going now?]
Low Balinese (to intimates, lower caste members): Cai luas jani? [You going now?]
Yep, you have to learn three different sets of vocabulary for this speech level system...
반갑습니다! Okay, I'll be quiet now.