Confucius Lives Next Door

안녕하세요!

 

confucius

 

While you may tell yourself that you’re only interested in South Korea, Confucius Lives Next Door by T. R. Reid is my number one book for learning about Asian (not just South Korean) culture. Maybe there’s a better book out there that I haven’t read yet, but this book really takes the cake. Or the kimchi.

 

Kimchi. Yum.

Kimchi. Yum. Awful attempt at making an image of kimchi spell the word kimchi. Not yum. My apologies…

 

Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West is primarily written about the author’s experience with the culture in Japan; however, as the author spent time living in places throughout Asia, including South Korea, I find this relatively inconsequential, because there’s a lot to be learned about Asian culture in general from this book. The book is a goldmine of information about the reasons why Asian culture is the way it is -and how America can benefit from it.

So who’s the incredibly wise guy whose social, economic, and cultural influence is still going strong throughout China, Japan, South Korea, etc.?

 

Confucius - The Greatest Thinker and Educator

This guy. Confucius – The Greatest Thinker and Educator

 

T. R. Reid knows quite a lot about Confucius, yet the book doesn’t talk about Confucius’ life. The book details Reid’s experience and afterthoughts on moving with his family to Asia. It explains how Confucianism is pervasive to Asian culture and how it has helped create not only the incredible “Economic Miracle” of rapidly modernizing and prospering Asian countries but also the lesser known but equally important “Social Miracle.” It even explores comparisons between Asia and the United States, and, though the book is more than a decade old, it remains useful to the reader seeking cultural understanding.

Pick up a copy of Confucius Lives Next Door and start understanding why family is so important in South Korea, why honorifics, formal language, bowing, deferral to elders, and general social stability are a common element to much of Asia. Yeah, yeah, Confucius is part of the reason. But the other reasons are discussed in the pages of T.R. Reid’s book. Read it. You won’t regret it.

And if you’re afraid it’ll be boring, Reid’s humorous yet cuttingly informative writing style will keep you interested to the very end.

 

Read some goodreads opinions.

Read another person’s review of T.R. Reid’s book (it’s not just me!).

Find out more about T.R. Reid on the man’s own site.

confucius 2

감사합니다!

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Family Outing

Family Outing Season 1

Family Outing Season 1

(Link updated 6/23/14; please comment if links do not work! Thank you.)

안녕하세요!

One of my favorite Korean variety shows is Family Outing (패밀리가 떴다). It’s a hilarious two-season show that aired several years ago and still provides fantastic information on life in the Korean countryside. A core group of celebrities – from singers like Kim Jong Kook, Yoon Jong Shin, BIGBANG’s Kang Daesung and Lee Hyori (a solo artist originally from Fin.K.L) to models and actors like Lee Chunhee, Kim Sooro, and Park Yejin to the “Nation’s MC” Yoo Jae Suk – along with celebrity guests go to different rural villages and small towns throughout South Korea and spend about a day and a half living in the home of an elderly couple. They take care of the couple’s chores and house while the elders are sent on a vacation.

Note: The core group changed during the show; Kim Jong Kook was unable to begin immediately, Park Ye Jin and Lee Chunhee left to pursue solo activities, and Park Haejin and Park Siyeon filled the empty spots. 

And sometimes they do things like create a "family band" and perform for villagers.

And sometimes they do things like creating a “family band” and then perform personally composed songs for the local villagers.

 

Family Outing is a gold mine of language-learning and culture exposure. Each episode is full of interesting activities – ever wondered how kimchi is made? Ever seen a really old machine heat up and pop rice so explosively that it make Yoo Jae Suk want to run away? Ever learned how to prepare squid after catching it yourself? Ever seen a pretty, delicate Korean actress named Park Yejin pop an eye out of a fish? (These celebrities have to get the ingredients and make the meals besides performing the chores and playing games. I’ll be honest – there was a scandal about how real their ingredients-gathering was, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the show or learning Korean!) This is just a tiny peek at what you’ll see in Family Outing.

"One Man" Kim Jong Kook catches "One Fish"

“One Man” Kim Jong Kook catches “One Fish”

 

Family Outing wouldn't be Family Outing without lots of ridiculous and hilarious games to play.

Family Outing wouldn’t be Family Outing without lots of ridiculous and hilarious games.

Family Outing has the trademark subtitling of a Korean variety show, too, making it so rich for the language-learner. Much of what is said is also subtitled or rephrased in Korean. When a celebrity is surprised, the screen flashes a huge “SURPRISED” in Korean. When someone yells SHIMBATA – translated basically as eureka or a cry of victory – it’s subtitled in big, easy hangul. Don’t ignore these and only read the English subtitles – absorb all the Korean you can. Reading Korean subtitles will help with your language comprehension.

Chunderella choom choom chooming...clumsily.

Chunderella and Step-mother Sooro choom choom chooming…clumsily. 바보야~!

 

This show is funny. It’s so funny that you might want to warn others around you before you watch it, or else you’ll startle them with fits of maniacal laughter. You’ll love everyone on the show so much that by the time you finish the first season, you’ll feel like you’re saying goodbye to an actual family that you’re a part of. You’ll begin to understand the social interactions between old and young, male and female, in Korea. You’ll pick up slang, vocabulary, quick phrases. You’ll appreciate Korean culture for its tradition and its beauty. And you’ll find that watching Family Outing – while being a great learning experience – gives you that smile and that laugh that you need after a long day.

 

Yoo Jae Suk, the Nation's MC, endures a lot of burdensome moments for the sake of the audience's laughs...and because he's a really, really nice person in real life.

Yoo Jae Suk, the Nation’s MC, endures a lot of burdensome moments for the sake of the audience’s laughs…and because he’s a really, really nice person in real life.

 

감사합니다!

Bowing in Korea

안녕하세요!

If I were speaking in person to you rather than writing this, you would have seen me bow to you along with the greeting, “안녕하세요!” (For spoken greetings in Korean, see  this post.) This tradition is definitely something you should learn if you ever intend to go to Korea or talk with native speakers in person.

As there are all kinds of bows and they’re used for different situations or occasions – for example, you don’t bow the same way to a coworker as you do to your parents on New Year’s Day – it’s a good idea to know the difference. Also, there are some people you probably wouldn’t bow to at all – like your really close friends. Do you shake hands with your best friend each time you see them? Unless you have a super awesome secret handshake that involves dancing, eyebrow wiggling, and complex hand movements, you probably don’t. Koreans don’t usually bow to their best friends either (unless they have a super awesome secret bow…?).

There are lots of great resources on the web that provide pictures, videos, and explanations of what each type bow is, when to do it, and how. Why not greet people properly in Korea? Look at these articles and videos to learn how.

Articles…

Great pictures and explanations of the do’s and don’tshttp://blog.korea.net/?p=2622

Scroll down and read the Etiquette and Customs in South Korea (Meeting Etiquette)http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/south-korea-country-profile.html

Also check out the other etiquette tips that Kwintessential mentions – they’re extremely useful for anyone going to Korea or interacting with Koreans!

Some extra articles to check out:

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/special/2010/08/177_23339.html

http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00723/index_files/Page619.htm

 

Videos…

KoreanClass101’s explanation and demonstration video in Korean with English subtitleshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNK_FAUAsmo

Eat Your Kimchi’s Simon and Martina share a clip of Korean Car Bowinghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pGPDWStSe8

 

감사합니다!