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Lesson Transcript

Seol: 안녕하세요. 윤설입니다.
Minkyeong: 안녕하세요. 민경입니다.
Keith: Hey, Keith here. Korean Culture Class Number 16 It’s All About Love - Jeong.
Seol: What is 정?
Minkyeong: 초코파이요.
Seol: Yeah I know what you mean but I want to ask you Keith. What it 정?
Keith: Well, in English there is no such thing as 정.
Seol: Then how would you explain this?
Keith: Well, that’s another thing. Even Korean people have a hard time explaining this, right?
Seol: Sure.
Keith: But before we get into it, let’s have a short introduction. Let’s talk about 정 generally, very very generally. So I think 정 plays a huge role in Korean culture and Korean society. Now, if you can understand 정, you can understand all Korean people, I think.
Seol: Almost.
Keith: So like this culture class is like the key to Korean culture.
Seol: Right.
Keith: And we are trying to tackle it because it’s going to be very, very difficult because once again, like we said, even Korean people.
Seol: Yeah, even me myself, I do not have a clear definition for 정 in Korean.
Minkyeong: And I think 정 is something you experience not where you explain.
Keith: Yeah, so like we said it’s a very, very difficult topic to tackle, but you know, we’re going to try to explain it as best as possible, and all right. 화이팅.
Seol: 화이팅.

Lesson focus

Keith: All right, so let’s start. 정 is generally speaking maybe an emotion, maybe an experience, like you said.
Seol: Maybe it’s a kind of attachment
Minkyeong: Like love and affection of Korean people.
Keith: Actually, if you look it up in the dictionary, there’s tons and tons of different definitions for it. But all those words you just said love, affection, attachment, all of these things. It’s all in there and trying to explain it in a couple of words but, like we said, it can’t be explain too easily. So basically it’s some kind of emotions and it’s some kind of attachment. And I think the two basic things with 정 is that, one, it has to do with people, it’s with relationships. The moment I met Seol, the moment I met Minkyeong we started on building our 정.
Seol: So you have 정 for me now, right?
Keith: Oh Yeah.
Minkyeong: 미운 정?
Keith: We’ll get into that phrase a little later. There’s all different types of 정 as well. But, yeah, we started. Even if I’m walking down the street and I see somebody, that’s 정 too.
Seol: Well… I don’t about it because it’s sometimes one way from you, but 정 usually goes both ways so… Well in that case I don’t think it’s 정, but anyway I understand what you mean. So if you see somebody who looks very hungry and if you give him a candy or a cookie, that can be explained by 정 too.
Keith: So that’s 정 with a stranger? But when you think of 정, who are the people that come to mind?
Minkyeong: Your neighbors.
Seol: Friends.
Keith: Family. Come on.
Seol: Yeah, you’re right, you’re right.
Keith: Your wife, your husband, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your son, your daughter - family. And, of course, like your best friends. And, like we said, even strangers and coworkers. 정 없어요?
Seol: 있어요.
Keith: Yeah, with me?
Minkyeong: 많아요.
Keith: All right! All right, so, yeah, that’s one of the basic aspects of it. One of the basic elements of 정 is that it’s something between people, it has to do with relationships. Most of the time, it’s a two way relationship where you know somebody, you have a dialogue with somebody but it can also be a one way relationship as well. Like you see a homeless person on the street and you feel bad, so you give them a look but that’s not really a dialogue, but I feel 정 when that happens to me.
Seol: Yeah, you’re right. 정 can include love, friendship, affection and a kind of emotional feeling.
Keith: Yeah and I think that’s the second part, the second element of 정. The first part is, it’s a relationship with people. The second part, it’s some kind of emotion not necessarily even an emotion, some kind of feeling… And this goes into another aspect of Korean culture which is not so easily explained to non I think Asian people, non-Asian people, the concept of 마음, but I think that’s going into another culture class. We have enough on our plates today, as it is. So, yeah, it as to do with something with people and some kind of emotion, some kind of attachment, some kind of connection.
Seol: So can you create a situation that you can see 정?
Keith: Well, actually, that’s where we are headed to. It’s tough to give an explanation, not because of the language aspect but because, like we said, Koreans have a hard time explaining it. So defining 정, I think the best way the listeners can get a feeling, can get a general idea of what 정 is, is to give examples and why those examples exemplify 정. So what’s our first example? What are we loving, caring, attaching everything to?
Seol: Usually Korean people make 김치 around December but those senior citizens who live alone do not have time and money for making 김치. So the neighbors make 김치 for them for free of course and they just share their food with them.
Keith: That’s so sweet. And that’s so communal.
Seol: Mhm. That’s 정.
Keith: So why do people do that? I think that kind of thing would happen sometimes in other countries. Like, you know, I grow up in America and I had an Irish nanny actually. She took care of me when I was, you know, a baby but a little later she got very, very sick and it was very difficult for her to even get up and get food. But a Korean man, in the same building, he went to her apartment and he would go in, make her some food, give it to her. And that was the epitome of 정 over there. What kind of 정 is that real quick?
Seol: Then it’s 이웃 사이의 정.
Keith: The 정. We are not going to try and translate it. The 정 of a neighbor.
Seol: Mhm.
Keith: So yeah, that something that happens, that I found happen in America but that was with a Korean person. And I think it would happen with non-Korean people too. It happens all the time all over the world but why do people do this?
Minkyeong: Because we care about other people and people around us.
Keith: So that’s one aspect of 정. Caring. Caring about neighbors.
Minkyeong: Mhm.
Seol: Yeah.
Keith: So before we move on to our next example, do you think 정 is exclusive to Korean people?
Seol: I do think so.
Minkyeong: I think non-Koreans actually could experience 정.
Seol: And have 정.
Minkyeong: Yeah, and have 정.
Keith: Yeah. I don’t think it’s a Korean thing but I think it’s a Korean concept.
Seol: Mhm.
Keith: But it’s a humanity thing but everybody have some kind of 정.
Seol: Mhm.
Keith: So let try to exemplify that in our next example. And what are we looking at now?
Minkyeong: This actually happened to my grandmother. She took a cab to go to eat lunch with her friends, and the taxi driver was so, so nice to her that she bought him lunch like with her friends. I mean that’s kind of 정, right? Because, she kind of you know, “Oh, you’ve been nice to me so I will buy you lunch. It’s lunch time.”
Seol: That is 정. That is definitely 정.
Minkyeong: Yeah.
Keith: That’s really cute though.
Minkyeong: Yeah.
Keith: But, once again it’s, yeah, just met this man for the first time but hey, I like you, let’s go out, let’s have dinner with my friends, lunch I guess and then… Trying to like spread the love. 그런 거 아니에요?
Seol: 맞아요. Spreading love. Oh, that’s a good expression.
Keith: I try to make a definition for it, like my own definition but what I came up with I don’t know how accurate it is but “love for humanity.”
Seol: Wow. That’s quite broad but…
Keith: You know that 정 is broad too.
Seol: Yeah, that is 정.
Keith: All right, let’s move on to another example. More examples.
Minkyeong: Let’s do 미운 정. I think everyone is going to have an experience of about 미운 정.
Keith: What’s the first word?
Seol: 미운
Keith: To dislike, to… not even dislike, to kind of hate and just really despise a person. And after that we got 정. So how does that make sense despise somebody like. Minkyeong, there’s this girl ever since you were a little kid and we grew up together but she was like this mortal enemy, biggest competition. She stole your boyfriend, sorry, just making this up. But there is somebody like that, someone you really dislike but you still have 정. What does that mean?
Minkyeong: So even though I really hate this girl, I don’t know, even if I move to somewhere else we don’t get to see each other, I’ll still feel bad, you know like…
Keith: But you hate her, you despise her.
Minkyeong: Yeah, but still, like we have some history.
Seol: Right. And if you see her in trouble, you would help her, right?
Minkyeong: No, actually. I wouldn’t help her but I would feel bad, you know?
Keith: 정이 없는가 봐요. Probably doesn’t have any 정. All right, but I think that’s another aspect of 정. Maybe not one of the core aspects but 정… I did a little research online and I came across this article that says 정 is sticky.
Seol: That is good. That’s very good. It’s really sticky.
Keith: What does that mean? 한국말로 어떻게 말해요? What do you say in Korean?
Seol: 끈끈해요.
Keith: Once again, that’s another... We are going into a lot of Korean terms that don’t translate too well today but like we said the probably the best definition is that 정 is “sticky.”
Seol: So it’s really hard to taken apart.
Keith: So kind of like if you thinking of a slice of pizza and you bringing up that cheese, that kind of line of cheese, those strings.
Seol: You’re explaining 정 with cheese?
Keith: No. but no, no. 끈끈하다.
Seol: Okay.
Keith: Yeah that’s what 정 is. It’s , it kind of sticks to you, you can’t really. Come on, get off of me but you can’t do it.
Seol: Yeah, you’re right.
Keith: So, why is it so sticky? What does that mean? 정 is “sticky.”
Minkyeong: You can say 정 is sticky because even though I really hate this girl, my friend.
Keith: Not your friend…
Minkyeong: Not my friend but…
Seol: You’re calling her your friend.
Minkyeong: You see this is 정 because now I’m calling her a friend. But no, it’s like even though I don’t really like this girl, I can’t stop like having feelings for her. Like it’s probably not the good feelings, but still I would care about what she’s doing, you know.
Seol: Mhm.
Minkyeong: And you know, what happens to her and stuff.
Keith: And that’s why it’s sticky.
Minkyeong: Yeah.
Keith: Can’t get rid of this girl like I want to forget about her. I don’t want to think about her, but somewhere in the back of my mind.
Minkyeong: Yeah.
Seol: Maybe deep down you like her.
Minkyeong: Yeah.
Keith: We are getting into some real psychology over here, some real deep issues. All right, so we have 미운 정. Now what’s another type of 정 that is out there?
Minkyeong: I think this is the best example of 정.
Minkyeong: 시골 사람들의 정.
Keith: So 정 from the people who are from the countryside? What’s that word?
Minkyeong: 시골.
Keith: The countryside, rural area just not a big city.
Minkyeong: In the rural area they know their neighbors very well, so they know what kind of things their neighbors need and they are ready to help them.
Keith: Yeah, they know pretty much, “Oh, this person need this so yeah I have a little extra so let’s give it to them.” They don’t even ask, do you need it, they just stop by and is like, “Hey, I brought some you know 김치 or something, thought you might need it.”
Minkyeong: There is so many 잔치s.
Seol: Parties?
Minkyeong: Yeah, like in countrysides. Like something happens, Yeah, you know.
Seol: Let’s hold a party tonight.
Minkyeong: Yeah, let’s have a 잔치 and you call everybody up.
Keith: So what’s that word?
Minkyeong: 잔치.
Keith: And it’s something that non-city people usually do. Just gather up all your neighbors go to somebody’s house, grab something to eat, just have a good time talking.
Minkyeong: And the people who live in countryside they don’t even lock their doors because so many neighbors come in and stop by and it’s kind of 정 because you are like thinking about your neighbors stopping by and stuff so.
Seol: It’s so natural for them, you know.
Keith: Well for you big city slickers like you two. Well, all right, joking aside, let’s go over a couple of expressions that our listeners might find useful.
Seol: 정이 많다.
Keith: To have a lot of 정. Now let’s give a quick example.
Seol: Keith는 정이 많아서 언제나 사람들을 도와줘.
Keith: Because Keith has a lot of 정 he helps people all the time. So can you think of somebody real quick who have a lot of 정? Somebody famous?
Seol: 오프라 윈프리.
Keith: Oprah Winfrey. Yeah, she’s always helping people.
Minkyeong: 정이 많은가 봐요.
Keith: 정이 많다. She has a lot of 정. She’s always giving out her money all the time. All right, let’s go onto another expression.
Minkyeong: 정이 떨어지다.
Keith: To lose 정. Can we have an example, what does that mean?
Seol: 민경이가 요새 미운 짓만 해서 정 떨어졌어.
Keith: Minkyeong has been doing not such nice things lately. So I lost my 정. Can you think of anybody that has lost their 정 recently.
Seol: Hmm. There’s nobody.
Keith: Ok. Well, maybe if some of our listeners have an idea of 정 떨어진 사람, somebody who has lost their 정, please leave us a comment. We’ll talk about this. I’m sure this is going to be a very, very hot topic at KoreanClass101.com but if you have any idea leave us a comment. All right, let’s move on to our next phrase.
Seol: 정이 들다.
Keith: To build up 정. So can we have an example?
Minkyeong: 오빠랑 언니한테 정이 들었어요.
Keith: Aww, that’s sweet.
Seol: Aww, 착해라.
Keith: So to us, you started to build up your 정. So when you first met us there’s that sticky connection. It’s very weak but it’s there. But since you started coming, working a little more and now, we’re good people. 정이 들죠, of course.
Seol: 당연하죠.
Keith: Yeah, so you started to build up your 정?
Minkyeong: 네, 미운 정이 많이 들었어요.
Keith: Hey, that’s not nice. That’s the bad 정.
Minkyeong: But I still care about you.
Keith: In a bad way. What’s the opposite of 미운 정?
Seol: It’s 고운 정. 고운 정.
Keith: So like beautiful, pretty 정. So what does that mean? Can we have an example?
Seol: Well, basically everything is 고운 정 except for 미운 정. So basically you know 정 is always pretty.
Keith: It’s always good. It’s always a beautiful thing. Okay, well, I think we’re out of phrases.
Seol: Yeah.
Keith: But we are not out of 정.
Seol: Wow…
Minkyeong: Wow…
Keith: What? Isn’t it 당연하지 않아요? Is that a given?
Seol: Thank you for your 정.
Keith: Well, we have 정 for our listeners.
Seol: Mhm.


Keith: So please, please stop by and discuss this. This is a very, very deep topic. A very deep and very important topic in Korean culture and Korean society. So if you have any questions, we probably can’t explain it one hundred percent but will try, will try to do our best. And also, please, if you have any examples of what you think 정 is in your life, leave us a comment, we want to hear, we want to see how 정 plays a role in everybody’s life.
Minkyeong: KoreanClass에 오셔서 우리 함께 정을 나눠 봐요.
Keith: That’s a beautiful phrase. Let’s share the 정. It’s all about 정, baby.
Seol: No, baby.
Keith: Ok. Ok. All right, so that’s going to do it. We will see you there.
Seol: 안녕.
Minkyeong: 안녕히 계세요.