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Lesson Transcript

Seol: 안녕하세요.
Keith: Keith here. And welcome to our very, very first culture class. And our culture class is on…
Seol: 추석
Keith: This is our very first culture class and this is also seol’s first day on the job.
Iseul: 안녕하세요. 처음 뵙겠습니다. 송이슬이에요. Hello. My name is Iseul. Nice to meet you.
Keith: And, Iseul, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Iseul: I was born in New York, lived in Korea when I was a child, came back to the States when I was about 12 and been there ever since.
Keith: All right. Well, we’re glad to have you along with us.
Iseul: Thank you.
Keith: So, aren’t you glad?
Seol: I’m so glad. And she’s so pretty.
Keith: You know Seol, you just got so much more talkative after Iseul came.
Seol: Yeah.
Keith: You’re just so awkward around me. I don’t know what that’s all about, but…
Seol: I’m sorry.

Lesson focus

Keith: All right. Well, to continue on, we have our Culture Class. Now, 추석, when I say this word, does this bring any, like, great memories to mind?
Iseul: 떡국
Keith: 떡국
Seol: 떡국? Really?
Iseul: Yeah.
Seol: Really?
Iseul: Yeah, my family always has 떡국 with 만두.
Keith: Wait, wait, wait…
Seol: This is really unique.
Keith: Wait. Let’s break down that word, please.
Iseul: 떡국
Keith: Okay. And this is rice cake soup.
Iseul: Yeah, exactly.
Keith: And, Seol, you never had 떡국?
Seol: On 추석? No.
Keith: No?
Seol: Never.
Keith: I always had that too.
Iseul: Yeah.
Seol: On 추석? No, usually, we have 떡국 on New Year’s Day, and 추석 we have 송편 instead of 떡국.
Keith: Yeah. 송편, can you break down that word for us please?
Iseul: 송편 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 송편 [natural native speed]
Keith: And, this is like a...
Seol: A kind of special rice cake, too. But you have to make it by yourself.
Keith: Right. And there is something associated with 추석. Or some kind of superstition associated with 추석. You don’t know about it?
Seol: No.
Iseul: No.
Keith: Well, traditionally, the women make the food, right? If you can make a pretty 송편, then apparently you’re going to get married to a good man.
Seol: Really?
Iseul: Oh, yeah, I’ve heard that. I’ve heard that.
Keith: So, like, you know, girls, they try to make it as pretty as they can with all of their heart kind of thing.
Seol: Really? Okay. This 추석, I’ll make the prettiest 송편 ever.
Keith: All right. Well, good luck to you. All right, I don’t think we actually explained what 추석 is. Seol, can you explain to us, please?
Seol: 추석 is like Thanksgiving Day in America, in the States. We celebrate and we express our thanks about the harvest.
Keith: And, there’s another name for 추석, right?
Iseul: 한가위?
Seol: Yeah...
Keith: 한가위? Yes. And what that does mean, exactly?
Seol: I guess it might mean full middle.
Keith: Full middle is referring to the harvest - the middle of the fall, autumn, that’s when the harvest is full. That’s what this is referring to - the full harvest in the middle of autumn. All right, So, we’re hanging out in Seoul and we’re doing our work, we’re doing our thing and 추석 comes. What happens during 추석?
Iseul: Families meet together.
Keith: Right. What does this mean for Seoul lights? Seoul has probably one fourth of the population of South Korea. So, what happens?
Seol: It’s empty.
Keith: Yeah. Everybody just leaves, right?
Seol: The city is empty and nobody is there in Seoul, but everybody goes to 고향, hometown.
Keith: Right. Can you break that word down for us, please?
Seol: 고향 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 고향 [natural native speed]
Keith: Yeah. And this word means “hometown”. And if you study in Korea you will be hearing this word all the time because Koreans are so nostalgic and they are always talking about 고향, like 고향, you’re so good back in my 고향.
Seol: Really?
Keith: Yes. You don’t talk about your 고향?
Seol: No.
Iseul: Seoul people don’t usually say 고향 for Seoul.
Keith: Right. Only when you’re outside of Seoul.
Seol: Yeah.
Iseul: From the countryside.
Keith: Yeah, the countryside. Where is your 고향?
Seol: 광주
Iseul: New York.
Keith: New York? See, I don’t know if that would qualify.
Iseul: My parents’ 고향 is Seoul.
Seol: So, in her case, New York is her 고향. Usually 고향, we refer to 고향 the place where we were born.
Keith: Well, the reason why 고향 is so important to Korean people is…
Iseul: 고향 is important because it’s a place where you go back to reconnect with family, history.
Seol: You know, because we’re really busy, we do not have many chances together and our relatives, right? So, like, in Korea, we have a big, big family and 추석 is kind of important chance that we can gather all together.
Keith: Right. One of the things is, during 추석, all of your not just immediate family, your extended family, they all gather together. And, it’s usually at the grandmother’s house...
Seol: Yeah.
Keith: Grandfather’s house... Which side of the family do you guys gather at?
Iseul: Most usually, the father’s side.
Seol: And, then we move to mother’s side. You know, we usually have four days vacation, right? So, first two days we’re staying with my father’s family, and then we move to my mother’s family and we are staying with them.
Keith: Well, as you mentioned, there’s four days vacation.
Seol: Usually, three days, but...
Keith: Some years it’s a whole week off, right?
Seol: Sometimes...
Keith: Some years, yeah. But, this is like one of the biggest holidays in Korea, so you have… Usually, people are working long, tough hours all year round and then 추석 comes along and the workforce is dead in Korea. Seriously… All right, so what do you guys do when you gather at your family’s place?
Iseul: Fight. Argue.
Keith: Fight and argue? Okay. Well, I was thinking more on traditional Korean.
Iseul: Oh. We play 윷놀이. We play the traditional 윷놀이 game.
Keith: All right, can you break down that word for us, please?
Iseul: 윷놀이 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 윷놀이 [natural native speed]
Keith: And this is a traditional game, usually played by girls, right?
Iseul: No. It’s a strategy game.
Keith: Strategy game?
Iseul: Played by guys as well.
Keith: Oh, well, I have never played it so I don’t know how to play, but... Don’t look at me like that.
Seol: 진짜? 진짜?
Keith: You’re so like... Are you crazy?
Keith: No, I see it all the time. I just never learned how to play it. All right, so this is a very famous Korean traditional game. And what else do you guys do?
Iseul: Most importantly, drink.
Keith: Okay. This is a great answer again, but, you know, I was thinking once again on traditional Korean things.
Iseul: The family gets together and cook. Cooking is the main part of 추석.
Keith: Yes, that’s a huge part of 추석. So what kind of food? Iseul and I eat 떡국. I guess that’s not traditional, I don’t know, but my family does it.
Iseul: My family does it, too.
Keith: Yes.
Seol: No, no…
Keith: And Seol you eat...
Seol: 송편 and 갈비.
Iseul: 잡채.
Keith: And what is this exactly?
Iseul: 잡채 is a type of glass noodles with soy sauce, sesame oil, beef, all stir-fried.
Keith: Wow. We got a cook over here. Master chef. Well, okay, so we have 송편, that’s one traditional food for 추석. And for me and Iseul we have 떡국. I don’t know if it’s universally eaten in Korea. What else is there?
Seol: 갈비
Keith: Is that a traditional...
Seol: It’s traditional.
Keith: A traditional Chuseok food. Now, what about the drinks? Everybody wants to know about the drinks, right?
Iseul: 소주, 막걸리.
Keith: And these are Korean spirits. What was the first one you mentioned to us?
Iseul: 소주
Keith: Can you break that down for us?
Iseul: 소주 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 소주 [natural native speed]
Keith: And this is probably Korea’s number one drink.
Iseul: It is, because especially because it’s cheap.
Keith: Right. How much does one bottle go for?
Seol: 1,300원.
Keith: 1,300?
Seol: About…
Keith: Well, you know, I actually read in the newspaper that Korean men get most of their energy from soju. More so than rice, but most of it is from soju, but... What was the second drink you mentioned?
Iseul: 막걸리
Keith: Can you break that down?
Iseul: 막걸리 [slowly - broken down by syllable] [natural native speed] 막걸리
Seol: I love 막걸리. I miss 막걸리.
Keith: What is that exactly?
Seol: It’s cloudy rice wine.
Keith: Yeah, it’s almost kind of milky, right?
Seol: Right, right.
Keith: Yeah. I hate that stuff.
Iseul: Me too.
Seol: Really?
Iseul: It smells.
Seol: Yeah, that is true, but it’s really sweet and it’s really tender, mild. I love that.
Keith: Well, a lot of people don’t like to drink it because it makes their head hurt the next morning.
Seol: Mmm... Kind of…
Keith: Kind of? Well, I don’t think we actually went over soju. What is soju exactly?
Iseul: It’s distilled rice wine.
Keith: So, us Koreans, we love that rice even in our alcohol.
Iseul: That’s right.
Keith: All right. So are there any superstitions associated with Chuseok?
Seol: 제사 지내요.
Keith: Okay. And, Iseul, can you explain that to us?
Iseul: 제사 is when we do our ceremony to feed the spirits who passed on before us.
Keith: Right. Our ancestors.
Iseul: Our ancestors.
Keith: Not just any old schmo…
Iseul: No, our ancestors.
Keith: Okay. And what’s that second part?
Seol: 지내다.
Keith: Commemorate. And, yeah, every Chuseok we commemorate our ancestors by... Well, how do we do it?
Iseul: On Chuseok, we prepare food for our ancestors, such as pears, 대추.
Keith: And what’s 대추 exactly?
Iseul: Dates and rice cakes, apples, all different kinds of fruits.
Keith: 갈비?
Iseul: 갈비 too, yes.
Keith: All right. So, I think we’re going to have to wrap it up. Time’s running a little long over here. But, Seol, are you looking forward to Chuseok?
Seol: Sure. Yes.
Keith: And, how about you, Iseul?
Iseul: I’m very looking for it to Chuseok.
Keith: And what are you doing, Iseul?
Iseul: I’m going back to Korea to regroup with my family.
Keith: Oh, lucky you.
Seol: Wow.
Iseul: Yay, lucky.
Keith: Get to go back to your 고향.
Iseul: Seoul, yes.
Keith: Seoul. Oh man. And, you and me, we just hang out, drink some 막걸리 and cry.
Seol: I’ll bring some souvenirs.


Keith: We are going to cry. We miss our families, but… Yes, so Chuseok is a big holiday for the Korean’s families to get together, celebrate and commemorate their ancestors, get together, play some games, have some good times, and, I hope you guys enjoy your Chuseok, too. Okay. Well, that’s going to do it for today. See you later.
Seol: 안녕.
Iseul: 안녕.