How to Buy Korean Ebooks Part II: Adding Money to Your Kyobo Bookstore Account

Do you already have a Kyobo Bookstore account? If no, please read this post first. Then, all you need is PayPal (a debit or credit card works too) and an email address.


Part II: Add money to your Kyobo Bookstore account

You should do this via a laptop or computer.  Continue reading

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How to Buy Korean Ebooks Part I: Creating a Kyobo Bookstore Account

There are some great sites in English that facilitate foreigners purchasing Korean-language books. TTMIK is one; GMarket’s global site is another. But the shipping costs for these books can be prohibitively high. Fortunately, there is a legal way to purchase Korean ebooks to read on any device that can download the 교보eBook app.

Thus far I’ve been able to easily download this and read on my iPhone, iPad, and laptop (Windows 10). Kyobo has its own e-reader device just like Amazon has Kindle, but you don’t need to purchase the device to use the services or read your ebooks.

All you really need is Paypal (a debit or credit card works, too) and an email address.

And now? Now I’m going to take you through how to get that Korean book that you’ve been longing to read, even if you barely know how to read Korean. Step by step. Continue reading

Gumiho Roommates and Unlikely Romances: A Webtoon Review of 간 떨어지는 동거

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안녕하세요!

Do you like Korean nine-tailed foxes, unlikely accidental cohabitation between love interests, and blunt humor? 간 떨어지는 동거 is the webtoon that falls next on my list of favorite webtoons (after Spirit Fingers, of course) precisely due to these features.

Take Lee Dam (이담), a chicken wing-loving, self-assured, no-time-for-your-sexist-or-flirtatious-nonsense college student. Add Shin Wooyeo (신우여 – reversed this becomes 여우신 or fox god), a stupidly attractive, centuries old, chicken-avoiding-and-magic-wielding gumiho who has nearly acquired all the power he needs to become human.

Now make them collide on the street so that the gumiho’s fox orb slips from his mouth into hers.

 

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Oh, darn. Guess they have to live together Continue reading

Nabillera: Contemporary Korean Literature in Translation

안녕하세요!

The Spring 2018 Edition of Nabillera, an online literary magazine that provides translations of contemporary Korean literature, is out, and it’s a great one to check out if you’re new to the scene (or if you’re an old hat, I guess you’re welcome, too).

The Spring 2018 Edition includes short stories and poems as well as interviews with four different Korean authors. It’s great for anyone interested in contemporary literature, Korea, or issues of gender and sexuality; this edition is called “Queer Literature of South Korea“. The previous edition, from Fall 2017, is also available via the “Past Issues” tab on the Nabillera homepage.

Full disclosure – Nabillera was started by a fellow translator/proofreader from my Humans of Seoul translation team, and he has done a fantastic job of selecting contemporary Korean writers to share with an English-speaking audience. I’ve done a little bit of proofreading for some of the translations, but the heavy-lifting is all his and his volunteer team! As he is a full-time college student spearheading a substantial literary translation project, this edition is nothing short of an exceptional achievement – especially since the Korean writers are paid an honorarium.

If you enjoy the work that he and his team at Nabillera are doing, please help support the publication of the next edition.

Enjoy reading!

감사합니다.

 

지금 재생 중

2018년: New Year, New Goals

여러분 안녕하세요! 늦었지만 새해 복 많이 받으시길~

And just like that, another year has come and gone.

The latter half of 2017 was a terrible year for my Korean language studies, but the rest was fantastic. I was enrolled in my teacher’s specially-designed independent study to write nine-episode fanfiction (mine’s published here). I also started my honors thesis around this time last year, and for several incredibly intense, fast-paced months, I immersed myself in prose, poems, and dusty tomes from the university library.

My thesis centered on The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness by Shin Kyung-sook (famous for Please Look After Mom and I’ll Be Right There). While I mainly referenced the English edition, I had the Korean (titled 외딴 방) to verify which Korean words were used for what. The nuance of the translation of ‘factory girl’ from Korean words like 공순이, 여공, and 노동자 was a vital part of my analysis. The history and culture surrounding each word is different, and it makes a huge difference in contextualizing meaning and emotion.

This is the nuance of language, the nuance of feeling: the essence of the everyday. Continue reading

Webtoon 추천: Spirit Fingers 스피릿 핑거스

안녕하세요!

Lately I’ve been really into a newer webtoon called Spirit Fingers (스피릿 핑거스) and unfortunately I finally caught up with all the currently released chapters, which means that I now have to wait a week between each new installment. While I wait, I thought I’d tell you about why you should check out this webtoon. As I’ve written before, webtoons and manhwa are a great way to practice Korean.

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The art is fantastic.

I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to watching or reading things that are created not only to tell a story but also to please or provoke in a visual way, like anime, manga, manhwa, webtoons… These are art forms, and if I don’t like the style, I really won’t be able to enjoy the story. #snobstatus

Spirit Fingers has scenes that are so pretty that I just want to drool on my phone screen. I found this webtoon by accident, I judged it by its art style and decided to keep reading, and I was not disappointed. And not only is the art great, but art is the thing that brings the characters together in the first place!   Continue reading

Books I bought in Korean (and other acts of madness)

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새해 복 많이 받으세요!

It’s already been over a week since I left the Land of the Morning Calm and returned home – and discovered that Seoul has more snow than Michigan, which is terrible. Michigan, I feel betrayed!

In my three heavy suitcases, I lugged back my earthly possessions: clothes, gifts, selfie sticks, and of course, books. Textbooks, biographies, and works by Andrei Lankov, obviously, but more pertinent to my language studies, I brought back books in Korean.

Me in the Kyobo Bookstore inside Gwanghwamun Station

I am a firm believer that the more you read, the wiser you can become, and the better you learn to write and comprehend. It doesn’t matter what language you read in; it will help you. Korean is no exception, which is why I pushed myself to buy two novels that I know I cannot read without laboring over each paragraph. You can’t get better without challenging yourself. I also chose to buy poetry, because poetry is artistic and allows one to learn about the creative soul within a language.  Continue reading

Manhwa Mania (sort of)

안녕하세요!

This summer has been full of preparations (mixed with far too much stress and madness) to go to Korea and almost no true, consistent studying of Korean. The one reassurance that my Korean abilities haven’t completely fled comes from my nightly manhwa time.

만화 (manhwa) – a glorious method of reading delightful comics for fun under the thin disguise of “studying Korean”.

When I began reading manhwa, I only really read Penguin Loves Mev because even that simple and sweet story was difficult for me to read in Korean. Each short sentence had a cute, comical illustration that helped me figure out the meanings of words I didn’t know – but I struggled through one chapter at a time, and I translated infrequently but with great effort, dissecting the grammar and asking my language partners about the usage of some words.

Sometime last fall, I got a new phone and discovered that Naver Webtoons has an app (I’d always read Penguin Loves Mev on my laptop). While I was exploring how to use the app, I became interested in trying other manhwa. As much as I loved Penguin Loves Mev, I wanted to challenge myself more (and I generally like fiction/fantasy/adventure). I bookmarked a few new manhwa to try and quickly became fascinated with 천년구미호 (1000 Year Gumiho).

There are lots of reason to read this manhwa. I absolutely love mythical creatures and legends, so anything about a nine-tailed fox (gumiho) from Korean myth – there are related legends in other Asian countries – is sure to grab my attention. I could also extol the virtues of the illustrations and plot….but this post is about language learning.

Time to put my study face on. And study James McAvoy’s beautiful face.

 

The other reason I love this manhwa is because of the language itself. It’s set in modern-day Korea, so there’s slang and modern colloquial conversations, but since it incorporates lots of ancient mythical creatures, these characters converse in old, historical Korean: very formal and often very different from what you’d hear a friend say to you. It’s an awesome mixture of old and modern Korean and I learn new things in every single chapter.

One of the best things about this manhwa is that the story is so interesting that I never can read just one chapter at a time. I often read at least five, even if it takes a long time, but this is a huge improvement from me struggling through one chapter a night (if that). I’m motivated to continue reading and practicing Korean because I want to know what happens next.

Don’t misunderstand; I definitely don’t understand everything in each chapter, but I’ve vastly improved since last fall when I began reading manhwa again. I can tell that my speed and comprehension has picked up enormously, and the more consistently I read, the better I am at Korean in general.

And, you know, it’s just so funny sometimes. The chicken is probably my all-time favorite character.

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Yes that wondrously evil-looking face is the face of doom. A chicken. Technically a rooster. Ah, well.

There are beautiful moments of comedy that make me burst out laughing, scenes of angst and romance, and entire chapters full of action and danger. And then there are scenes where someone FINALLY MENTIONS that one of the evil guys has a hairstyle that makes his head look like a 송편 (songpyeon) which is a traditional Korean food. Check out the head of the guy on the left and compare it to the picture of songpyeon.

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Do you read any manhwa? Let me know if you have a favorite or if you’ve also enjoyed reading 천년구미호. Woohoo for reading!

And 감사합니다 for reading this^^

 

지금 재생 중 (because 괜찮아, 사랑이야 (It’s Okay, That’s Love) is a fantaaaaaaastic new Kdrama that finally confronts the stigma about mental illness as not being worth the same care as physical illness. Also because this song is really pretty):

Starting Smart & Small: Reading in Korean

안녕하세요!

I recently discovered a wonderful and unexpected resource – the library. While yes, the avid language learner can go search out grammar guides and Korean-English dictionaries, and maybe find a set of old CDs that teach tourist-level phrases, there’s something much, much better hiding in your library.

Children’s books.

That’s right. Cute picture books with simple sentences, simple grammar, simple vocabulary. While there are also lots of chapter books available in non-English languages, children’s books are 대박. Grab those first, and don’t even think about eyeing those bigger books even though you really want to feel accomplished with your level of Korean.

Why? 왜요?

Think about how you naturally learn a language as a child. You learned your native tongue from adults speaking it around you constantly. You might have watched TV shows that solidified what you heard from adults, as well as introduced you to a larger world than your house, backyard, and preschool. But one of the other ways you learned was by reading with an adult. Children who read a lot from a young age tend to have more natural writing skills. If you want to learn to write well in Korean, start small, and start with reading. Even if you think your Korean is relatively advanced, don’t just head straight for the chapter books. If they’re too hard, they might discourage you and you’ll feel frustrated. Don’t give up!

Children’s books still provide a fair challenge – and as a bonus, depending on the book, they introduce you to stories that native Koreans grew up with and still remember fondly. I discovered that my Korean friend and I read the same book as children – yet she read in Korean and I, English. She had me read the Korean book aloud to her and translate it. While I still struggled with some meanings, it was encouraging and I finished the book with a stronger understanding of general sentence structure and a few words added to my vocabulary. Not to mention, I fixed some pronunciation with my friend’s help!

The next time you’re wandering through shelves looking for a good read, head for the foreign titles section, browse through the Korean selection, and choose the easiest-looking picture book you can find. To make more enjoyable, choose one that you read in English as a child – it’ll be more meaningful and since you’ll remember the general story, understanding the Korean will come easily.

Start smart. Start small. And soon you’ll be reading in Korean like, well, a five-year old.

But still, a five-year old Korean reads much better than an English-speaker who can’t even tell which Asian language is written on the cover of a kid’s picture book. Think of it as your first step, your first book as a child that you tried to read by yourself; if you pursue it and practice, your Korean will “grow up” into those big chapter books and open a whole new world. Just like your first language did.