결국엔: Simple Korean Poetry

I’ve been doing a terrible job of writing in Korean every day, but this cannot last.

I am a writer, and the need within me to write is stronger and stronger each day that I go without properly writing even a short poem, which is why I’ve started writing short poems here and there. They are on my phone’s note app, or in my little notebook I bought in Korea last summer, or written in my school notes.

They are almost all incredibly dramatic.

Make that “They are definitely all incredibly dramatic.”

Anyways, I thought I’d share one of the poems I’ve posted to Instagram directly here, and perhaps I’ll start sharing them here more regularly. I welcome comments!


Here’s the original Instagram post. And here is a quick, inaccurate translation:

In the End

The heart that loves you

Has become the heart that once loved you

The memories of you that hurt me

Are disappearing along with you

In the end we parted and

The wounds that I received from you

Are being healed by a different person.

Continue reading

Doing what scares me

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

여러분 메리 크리스마스!

Back in the summer, I decided that rather than waiting until I had a ‘firm grasp on Korean’ – whatever that means – I was going to start writing short stories and not let my ignorance of vocabulary and grammar or my fear of imperfection stop me. I bought a cute little notebook that fit into my pocket and tried to write at least one little story each day.



My cousin and I went to G-Dragon’s Peaceminusone exhibit the first week that I was back in Korea and that evening, as we sat on the second floor of a cafe near Yonsei University, we decided to create. She’s an amazing artist; I have a passion for writing. Inspired by the creativity we saw at the exhibit, we decided we wanted to not just consume but produce. I wrote, she sketched.

I got to around thirty this past summer. Thirty very short, very simple, flaw-filled stories. Most of them reached perhaps a single tiny page, and a few were scribbled across more than one page. I tried to write with varied characters and plots, and found that it was quite the challenge.

It can be hard enough to write a good story when you have time and space and fluency to wax eloquently, but when you’re confined, you have to be far more creative.

I loved it. I love my little foolish tales, for all their mistakes and awkwardness. Per the suggestion of one of my Korean friends, I made an Instagram account called Green Tea Girl in Korean to post them to, but I all but forgot about it until recently. I’ll start posting them there again, but I’m also going to share them here.



Do you see glaring errors? Little mistakes? Please do let me know. I may never do anything with them besides share them with my readers, but isn’t that all that matters – sharing what I’ve created, however small, with others. I hope you enjoy them, and I hope you feel inspired to do your own creative works.

In my mind, creating is the best way to resolve problems of the heart and mind, because you can take what constitutes the problem and reshape it into something that allows you to confront – or at least acknowledge – the problem itself.

감사합니다, and I hope you enjoy my little stories. I’ll link to them here once I begin posting them.



P.S. The formatting was lost in the Instagram post, but here’s the story titled 훌륭한 형님:

“야, 이놈아 진짜-“
어둡고 늦은 밤에 남자들 4명이 한강의 강둑에 서 있었다. 그들의 발 밑에 의식을 잃은 남자가 누워 있었다.
“이제 이 자식 숨을 쉬지, 뭐….형님, 너무 화가나지마세요.”
“내가 이 자식 몇 번 말했는데도!”
“형님…” 갑자기 강둑에 누워 있는 남자가 정신을 들었다. 그 형이 즉시 무릎을 꿇었다.
“무슨 일이야, 이 자식아. 어디 다친 거 없어? 이 형 얼마나 걱정됐는데…”
“머-머-뭐?! 내가 뭐?”
“형님 보고 싶었어요.”
“이 놈아.” 그 형은 다른 남자에게 시켰다.
“빨리 차 데리고 와!”
“제가…죽을 것 같아요?”
울음을 참으면서 그 형이 대답했다. “아니. 형이 죽을 때까지 네가 죽지 못해! 알았어?”
“예, 형님…”
“이 자식아.”

지금 재생중

Stroke Order: Hangul’s tribute to Chinese Calligraphy

'Stroke' text created in Photoshop 11


Just like Chinese characters have a specific order to their lines, hangul letters also have proper stroke order. While no one’s going to give you a dakbam (probably) if you draw the bottom line before the top, it’s a good idea to learn stroke order. If you’re going to learn how to do something, why not learn how to do it correctly?

Although at first it’ll be difficult to remember the proper order, and writing with stroke order will slow you down, it’s worth it. Once you get the hang of it, those hangul letters will all but fly off the tip of your pen. It just takes a little practice.

Check out this site which provides images of each step to drawing the correct order for each hangul letter. This other site includes playable clips of writing in hangul with correct stroke order.


Reference Links:



Write BIGBANG’s name in Korean

how to write BIGBANG

Photo from BIGBANG’s Alive Tour in New Jersey, taken by site’s author.
Edited in Photoshop 11.

Changing your keyboard for Windows 8


If you have a computer with Windows 8 (I have Windows 7), it’s a bit more difficult to change your keyboard’s input. This article helps explain what changed between Windows 7 and Windows 8 and guides you to the screen where you can change your keyboard’s input language by adding Korean and other languages to its repertoire.

NOTE: A comment on the article says that pressing Win + X opens the “Power user shortcut menu (Device Manager, Control Panel, Command Prompt etc.) and then you can select Control Panel from it”. Another comment explains that rather than clicking on all the different options in Control Panel, put “language” into the Control Panel Search, then go from there.

The “from there” should entail clicking on Add an input method to access the list of other keyboard input languages. Remember to add both Korean and Korean IME.


Write Daesung’s name in Korean (BIGBANG)

Write Daesung's name in Korean (BIGBANG)

강 대성
Kang Daesung
Photo from BIGBANG’s official Facebook page.
Edited in Photoshop 11.

Extra Help with Hangul

안녕하세요! Are you still struggling to read Korean? Maybe you mix up certain vowels all the time, or you just cannot seem to ever pronounce a specific letter correctly. While I still think that practicing writing out words, phrases, even lyrics to entire songs in Korean can really help you master Hangul, it’s always nice to have a quick and easy reference to check when you’re struggling. My best friend sent me this post from Pinterest; it explains how to read Hangul through a comic-style format by associating the different symbols with words and objects that use the same pronunciation. I definitely recommend this Pinterest post whether you’re just beginning to learn Korean or if you’re a seasoned champ who reads a chapter book written in Hangul a day.

Check it out here if you still haven’t clicked: http://pinterest.com/pin/227642956135413610/


Typing in Korean: how to change a computer’s input language



There, I just did it. I typed in Korean.


Typing in the target language is an invaluable ability for the language-learner. If you take a Spanish class, you have to turn in typed essays. For Spanish, it is not as big a problem if you don’t set your language into Spanish – all you have to deal with is an annoying squiggly line under every single word. But to type in a language that uses a completely different writing system, like Korean, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, etc., a computer has to be set to use multiple “keyboards”.


Before you get excited and go add Korean to your computer’s “keyboards”, take a moment to look at your actual keyboard’s keys. They’re probably the alphabet used by English, Spanish, etc. Not Korean, not Japanese, not Russian. They’re also probably in QWERTY format. The Korean keyboard is NOT in QWERTY format because it does not have Q – it doesn’t have any of those letters, technically. It has hangul, and your QWERTY is actually ㅂㅈㄷㄱㅅㅛ. Not the same. Unless you intend to learn through very aggravating trial-and-error, I recommend that you order keyboard stickers. They’re cheap and well worth the money. I use black background stickers with white-symbol QWERTY format, yellow-symbol Japanese hiragana (ひらがな), and blue-symbol Korean (한글) hangul. You can purchase clear, white, or black backed stickers, with either just English and Korean, just English and Japanese, or all three. If you also intend to learn Japanese, it really doesn’t matter if you get Japanese symbols as part of the set too, because that format is rarely used (more about that in a late post). The stickers are best applied with a pair of tweezers, they don’t take long to put on your keys, and they stick very well. I have never had any of them come off or even get a little bit loose.


Black background stickers with English, Japanese, and Korean: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003PHOW7C/ref=pe_175190_21431760_M2T1_SC_3p_dp_1


Black background with English and Korean: http://www.amazon.com/KOREAN-ENGLISH-NON-TRANSPARENT-KEYBOARD-BACKGROUND-NOTEBOOK/dp/B0038J84NU/ref=pd_sbs_op_3


The total with shipping for one set is about $6. If you’re serious about learning Korean, this isn’t a bad price for learning to type.


But what’s the point of stickers if you can’t properly use them? While you’re awaiting your stickers, add Korean to your computer. I use a laptop running Windows 7: if you have something different, please just Google how to change your keyboard settings or reference this for Windows 8 ^_^


1. Open your Control Panel.

2. Under Clock, Language, and Region, click on Change keyboards or other input methods.

3. Select the tab labeled Keyboards and Languages and click Change keyboards.

4. Under the General tab, to the right of the box with a diagram that says Keyboard, click the Add… button.

5. Scroll down to Korean, click its + sign, click the + sign for Keyboard, and then check the boxes for Korean and Microsoft IME. Make sure you click BOTH of those boxes and BOTH of them have checks. Now click OK.

6. Your box of keyboard languages should now include KO. Click Apply, and then click OK.

NOTE: The rest of this is up to your personal preference, but this is how I have further customized.

7. Select the tab Language Bar and choose Docked in the taskbar. I have Show the language bar as transparent when inactive and Show text labels on the Language bar also checked.


You should now have a language button on your taskbar. EN for English!

8. Want to switch between keyboards quicker? As I type in three keyboard formats, this is a nice customization. Select the tab Advanced Key Settings. Set a hot key pattern to use to switch to Korean and a pattern to switch to English.

NOTE: The default typing system will remain in English no matter what keyboard you switch to. However, if you look at your taskbar, pressing these hot keys will alter the keyboard so you can toggle between Korean and English when using the Korean keyboard. This sounds confusing but once you start using it, it will make a lot more sense.


Notice that though the keyboard is set to KO (Korean keyboard format), it will still type in English when you switch to it. See the A. A means that it types in English.


This occurs for any non-English keyboard. Though this is switched into Japanese, it will still type in English…


….until the Input Mode ‘A’ is toggled to hiragana, katakana, etc.


However, when you toggle the A by clicking on it, it switches immediately into hangul! See the 가? The Korean keyboard is will now type hangul!


If you have questions or need a step clarified, please comment. 감사합니다!


An extra muffin: Often, when you visit sites in other languages, your computer isn’t set to recognize characters from that language’s “keyboard” and it will show question marks or random symbols. It can’t process that HTML. When you add that language to your computer, however, it stops this from happening (most of the time).

the write way to learn hangul


(Don’t want to read my wordiness? Just use these links: Hangul Basics & Read, Write, and Pronounce Korean.)

WRITE IT. (And yes, my title is written incorrectly as a bad pun. Deal with it.) That’s the right way to learn Hangul, and eventually Korean. Unless you’re solely intent on learning to speak and comprehend spoken Korean, the proper first step for language-learning is studying the Korean script known in South Korea as Hangul or Hangeul (I prefer romanizing it as Hangeul although it is most commonly written as Hangul in English).

한글 Hangeul:

Han = “great”

Geul =”script”

Hangeul is a beautifully designed alphabet from the Joseon Dynasty (1443) that relies on grouping 24 vowel and consonant symbols into syllabic blocks. It’s read from left to right like English.

First, give yourself some background. The history of this script is interesting, and skimming the Wikipedia page is actually pretty valuable to provide a rudimentary understanding.

Secondly, use this fantastic free site for learning the individual symbols, their sounds, and how they fit together. It’s divided into six lessons, but currently only the first five are available. However, those five are sufficient to get you reading and writing Hangeul! The sixth lesson would teach you about double letters, but those are easy to recognize (they are simply smaller versions of the single letters!), ie ㄲ is the double letter for ㄱ.

EDIT: Also check out this post for some extra help.

It took me a couple days, spending twenty or so minutes each day, to learn Hangeul from this site. Don’t be lazy; dedicate one of your raggedy old unused notebooks to Hangeul and write out those words that the lessons give you. Include the romanization (the word written in English) as well as the pronunciation. Write the correct pronunciation the best way you will recognize it. You’ll feel intelligent, your notebook will suddenly seem much more valuable and interesting with all the Hangeul symbols covering its pages, and you’ll start impressing people with your Korean doodles.

If you don’t have much time or even if you do, do one or two lessons a day, as early in your day as you can. Throughout the day, take little pauses to write out a few of the symbols you learned. Read it aloud to yourself (quietly, so you don’t look as crazy), square your shoulders, and feel proud of what you’ve learned so far. Look at signs and visualize how they’d be written in Hangeul, and sound out all those fine phonetics. You might get it wrong at first, but practice, practice, practice – and then it’ll become second nature.

Don’t be intimidated; it’s one of the easiest alphabets to learn. 행운을 빌어요! ^_^