Tag Archives: Konglish

Korean animals are weird…

So, not surprisingly, I’m totally late to my own posting party. Are you surprised? Yeah. Me neither.

So, due to my bad habits and a ton of business happenings, I’m not going to write much to you. I’m going to show you something.

Months ago, I talked with a class of girls about how Korean animals, apparently, sound totally different than American animals. Well, at least when humans are speaking for them.

So, we wrote it down:

Korean animal sounds

Korean animal sounds

Let me translate:

Frog: “geh-guhl geh-guhl” (this is weird, because it’s not a true “l” or “r” sound. Saying it as a native English speaker is just downright awkward)

Pig: “ggool ggool” (think a hard “g” sound)

Dog: “mong mong” (dogs so don’t sound like that, RIGHT?!)

Cat: “ya-ohng ya-ohng” (“oh” sound there)

Cow: “um-may um-may” (huh?)

Sheep: “mayyyyyyyy” (not too far off from the American version)

Horse: “hee-hing hee-hing”

And then, to make my point more understandable for you, dear Reader, I recorded us making all the sounds.


Notice how adorable all of them are. I’m sad that I no longer have a single one of them in class anymore. They’ve moved on to bigger and better things (or just a higher level, but whatever).

I think the difference in horse sounds was their favorite; we often say “neigh” for horses in the Americas, which literally translated here (Korean spelling is 네) would be an agreement. So horses in America must be very agreeable… Or so I’ve come to assume.

This is just one of the many things I’ve noticed that are remarkably different in Korea. Many things I’ve come to accept as “normal” and it wasn’t until coming home to the Americas this year that I remembered that they’re, well, not the norm to Americans.

More on that later.

But anyway, enjoy the adorable children and the strange sounds their animals make. Happy Friday, Reader. And an even happier weekend to you!


I found some other book nerds… and then there was dessert…

Merry Tuesday, Reader! I’m writing to you from a new-ish coffee chain that opened in my neighborhood a few months ago. I feel like I’m cheating on my beloved Starbucks… But until the new one opens, I’ve decided I might cheat. This place is cute and while the coffee is what I would consider sub-par, it’s a five minute walk from my apartment… Sorry, Sbux. Hurry up and open already!

But anyway. That’s not the point of this post.

Reader. I did it. I DID IT! This weekend, I finally peeled myself out of bed, cleaned myself up, and got myself out to that book club I’ve been meaning to get to for a couple of months. (If you’re new to the blog, you can read about how that was one of my intentions for January here and then how I blew it; and then how I re-made it an intention for February here. I obviously followed through this time.)

To keep with the chosen theme, “Fearful February,” the book picked for the month was Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, the first in the Hannibal Lecter series. I was super excited to read this because I’ve been intrigued by Lecter since I first saw The Silence of the Lambs back in college. I had never read any of the books (I honestly don’t think I realized there were books…), so this was a perfect opportunity/reason to delve into the first one. I do love a good dose of crazy, mentally twisted killer-esque stuff, and the book proved to be great entertainment for me. I finished it in just a few days. And may I say, I was shocked at what happened at the end…

But enough about the book (if you want to know what happens, go read it yourself). Let’s get into the meetup itself. I joined seven other women, one of which happens to work for my school’s sister branch. (We had several things to talk about… and bitch about. Ha.) A few of the other girls were pretty talkative, and though not everyone finished the book, we still found a good amount to discuss. I really, really had a nice time chatting with these other women who seemed genuinely professional and potentially as geeky as me.

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[korean] kids say the darndest things…

The other day, my students commented on my hair. Here’s what one boy told me:

“Teacher, your hair like dog feather. Gold dog feather.”

Translation: “Teacher, your hair is like gold dog fur.”


Sometimes, my students struggle to explain their ideas in writing or when speaking. Other times, they know exactly what they mean and when it comes out, it’s utterly hilarious.

I’ve also been told that my hair, when curly and “scrunched,” looks like ramen noodles (which they all eat).

Also, my beloved blue eyes are “scary.” Oh, the things the children say!

I’ve realized that it’s difficult to separate Koreans from one another. They all have such similar features as a people group, that describing one Korean person to someone else is difficult… I don’t mean to sound racists, but there aren’t many features to describe. Short or tall, thin or heavy, brown eyes. Sometimes you get a hair color variation from the typical black/dark brown, but even then I find it difficult to describe a typical Korean and set them apart from everyone else.

Living in Korea has really challenged me to be more comfortable with how I look. My thinnish, [colored] bright blonde hair gets crazy curly and wavy in the slightest humidity. In the past, I have hated it. I still don’t love it, but I have learned to appreciate it. Apparently, Korean women love curly hair because it’s so unlike theirs. I have blonde, curly hair. My hair is coveted among Korean women!

I have always loved my eyes, but they’re so unusual here. I have come to appreciate their icy shade even more.

Before getting here, I wasn’t too impressed with how I looked. Now, I have learned to appreciate and be comfortable with my appearance. (I would also be lying if I said that the comments and attention of a few men hadn’t also made me more confident. You can read more about that here.)

So, thanks, Korea, for making me feel more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve come a long way.

a short list of grievances… Game of Groans

As you might imagine, living in Korea is pretty awesome. I love it here, and I’m not planning on leaving anytime soon. However, this being said, you might also imagine that living in Korea (or living in any foreign country, for that matter) might also bring a few headaches… Like, seriously? What possesses these people to do these ridiculous things? Wear that? Just not do stuff like we do it in the Americas, where everything is bigger, better, and more delicious?

Here’s a list of 5 things that cause me to become an irritable white girl:

#5. Socks with sandals.

...this lady... i can't even...

…this lady… i can’t even…

Women here will literally wear socks with their sandals, regardless of how stupid it looks. Now, there is some logic to this – Koreans remove their shoes before entering many places, like homes, schools, and even some restaurants. So, it helps when you’re wearing socks… However, it just looks dumb. Women also dress their children this way, so their littles look just as ridiculous as they do. My other favorite part about this is the random sock designs they choose… Which are pretty much any design you can imagine, including superheroes, brand names, and Psy, that guy that sang “Gangnam Style.” (I have a pair of those… and Starbucks socks. What a shock.)

#4. Air conditioning is not centralized, so you’re basically dripping in sweat when you leave the room.

the "air con" unit in my apartment...

the “air con” unit in my apartment…

For some reason unknown to me, South Koreans don’t incorporate central AC into any of their buildings. Instead, you have to have a single, separate unit for each room. (Or, in the case of a           business with a large open room, maybe two or three units to get it cool enough.) “What does this look like?” you ask. Well, they come in three standard units: a long, skinny-ish thing that gets mounted on the wall; a tall, skinny thing that stands upright and is a cooling beast; or a large, nearly meter-wide square set into the ceiling. (The last ones are usually found in businesses.) So, when you walk into a house or a business with multiple rooms (like a school, for example), the minute you leave that room, you’re dying from heat stroke. Basically, I suffer from chronic sweating all summer long. And it’s just gross.

#3. There are approximately five public trash cans in the whole country.

So, let’s say, for example, you went to Starbucks with your friends. When everyone was ready to leave, you still hadn’t finished your drink, so you took it with you. As you’re walking around the city, shopping or doing whatever it is you do, you finish that drink. So what do you have? Bingo. An empty cup. And where should you deposit that cup? Well, Western logic tells you that you should chuck it into the nearest trash receptacle. But wait. Where is that glorious rubbish bin?

Oh. Right. This is Korea. They don’t really like those.

According to my Korean friends, these public trash cans used to be everywhere, just the way we expect them to be. But at some point, Korean citizens got a brilliant idea: I’ll just throw all my home garbage out at one of the city receptacles. So apparently these cans were constantly overflowing. As a result of this unfortunate behavior, cities all over the country ripped out the vast majority of these bins. If you’re lucky enough to be near one, clean out your handbag. Otherwise, remember that Starbucks cup? Yeah. You’ll be carrying that around all day until you get home. Enjoy that.

#2. Old ladies and their entitlement. And young ladies and their lack of directionality. 

Now, it may be a scientific fact that Korean women can’t walk in a straight line. Period. Even when they’re not looking down at their phones, women, both old and young alike, meander through a walking area like they’re following a speck of dust through the air. I find this very annoying. They also have a tendency to just bump/SLAM into you whilst meandering and they will not stop to apologize. Nay, they will ram you and just keep on walking. This irks me to no end. I almost always swing back around to say, “chwesomnida,” which means “excuse me,” but they’re always already gone, continuing on their path of non-direction.

Old women are another story entirely. As an Asian society, you may remember from history class that the elderly are highly regarded and are treated with extra respect. If an older person gets on the bus, you should give up your seat (which is just nice to do anyway), and you should also move the hell out of the way for them… In every situation. Old women have grown so accustomed to this entitlement, they will cut in front of you for everything.

Because it’s their right. They earned it. How? I’m not sure.

They will not change their direction or placement while walking, they expect you to. They will attempt to shove you out of the way so they can board the bus or subway first. They will try cut in front of you in line at the supermarket. Sometimes, you give in. Other times, you stand your ground. Oh. My. GODIE. This is so annoying.

And… Finally…

1. Real bad English. Like, everywhere.

"A really good chicken, go to dakzip [restaurant name] has it all  Thinking about thinking chicken taste good drink  Today I come to think of a cup of chicken"

“A really good chicken, go to dakzip [restaurant name] has it all
Thinking about thinking chicken taste good drink
Today I come to think of a cup of chicken”

You would think that in a country obsessed with learning English, a society of people that spend millions of dollars to become proficient English speakers, and being a country literally crawling with native English speakers, that Koreans would be better about getting someone to proofread stuff before they publish/print/hang/produce stuff with English on it. But alas, clothes, restaurant slogans, notebooks, and a slew of other products have some of the dumbest, most non-sensicle (I just made that word up) wording you’ll ever see. Like, really? You couldn’t find a waygook (aka foreigner) or someone more proficient in English to read that for ya before you sent it to be manufactured?

This stuff is everywhere. And it’s bad. But, luckily, it’s equally hilarious.


So, this installment is just a short chronicle of things that irritate me… There are others, so I’ll revisit this topic in the coming weeks.



Here’s a question for you, Reader. What things have gotten on your nerves as you’ve been traveling or living somewhere new? Even if it’s a new area in your home country, what just drove you crazy?! Tell me all about it. I want your stories!

Write on. :)


*This post was written in response to WordPress’s The Daily Post: Game of Groans.

i’m legit in this city…

It’s been more than two weeks since my last post, and as usual, I’m really, really sorry about my absence. I know you’re dying to know what I’ve been up to…

And so, Reader, it occurred to me earlier this week that A) I haven’t written anything in a few weeks; B) I’ve failed to write about a ton of cool stuff that happened last year; and C) I got another sweet gig that I have yet to tell you about. (This is all assuming, of course, that you care about all these menial things in my life… As if you don’t have plenty of things of your own to worry about besides my [semi-exciting] experiences over here in the ROK.)

To make up for this absence and the void of last year I have yet to share with you, I’ve decided to write several posts that may seem like a bit of whiplash. But just bear with me, okay? Today, we’re staying current.

Let me tell you about this really cool I’ve got going these days.

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