32 In Korean learning journey (:

Acceptance and Understanding

5 years ago, when I tell people that I self study Korean, spend a lot of time learning Korean and run a blog talking about learning Korean, I get a range of reactions. The nicer people will give me a bewildered look and go “ah I see ….. …. . . (silence)” while the others will be like “so how is it going to help in your career?” “why are you wasting your time doing this?” and all sorts of belittling remarks.

Now I still get a range of reactions. From the “oh so you are kpop crazy” (minority reaction since almost everyone is kpop crazy lol) to “WOAH so cool!!” “wow I hope to be as good in Korean next time” “so amazing that you can self study a language!”. hahahaha.

Thank you kpop, for making my life better and getting so many compliments lol.

Kinda ironic how something that was seen as “useless” is now seen as “cool”. Not that it’s a bad change but to be honest, I don’t really care about it. I don’t care how Korean is going to be a “useful language now that there are a lot of opportunities to do business with Korean companies” or that “you are so smart to predict that Korean is going to be so popular now!”. I have always act according to my own interests and will continue to do the same thing. I’m immune to all these trends / popularity / usefulness stuff. -.-

It’s definitely not a bad thing to “ride on the wave” and start learning Korean now. But sometimes I feel like I need to emphasize that I’ve been learning for five years and try to separate myself from those who started to learn recently just because of the “popularity” factor. lol. It’s a stupid thought since the reasonable and logical self in me knows that there are also a lot of people who are starting to learn now because they are interested in the language and even if they join it because of the “trendy” factor, there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s no such thing as a “better” reason to learn a language. Besides, who am I to judge? ㅋㅋ

But the emotional self in me still feel that way, possibly because of all the criticism and all the shit stuff I have to endure just because at that point in time, it wasn’t common to learn the language. I was going through a difficult period at that time and all the shit stuff just made me feel even worse but I felt even more sure that I have to protect my own interests and to believe in myself and my choices.

I’m sure a lot of people who have started learning for quite some time knows what I mean (about the negative comments). I get it a lot more because I dedicate a large part of my life to the language. I’ve had people tell me that I should stop learning Korean and focus on more pragmatic stuff. #truestory

A few years back I have that strong urge to succeed with my Korean skills and prove those who belittle my choices / decisions etc wrong. hahaha sadly I’m still very much unaccomplished and yeah.. haha. That kind of thoughts have subside over the years. Why should I answer to others and why must I prove you wrong? I should answer only to myself and if the path I take makes me happy, it should be enough. Even if I don’t succeed with Korean (or don’t succeed at all ㅠㅠㅠ) I’m still very happy that Korean is part of my life.

Same with Japanese. I have no goal in mind when I decided that Japanese is also going to be part of my life. I just feel happy doing so and I’m enjoying the process of learning a new language and culture. (:

p.s. I’m trying to be honest here, so please don’t twist my words and think that I’m trying to say that I’m “better” than those who are learning because of kpop. lol. Part of the reason I learnt Korean was because of 궁 hahaha.

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Karla
    9 May, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    Hi Shanna!You rock! I love this post of yours.
    From your no.1 blog stalker—Karla LOL

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      10 May, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      hahaha thanks Karla!

  • Reply
    Kevin
    9 May, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    I think the question “so how is it going to help in your career?” is so stupid that it actually made me speechless. Its a language for god sake.You cant just want to study because it will help you in your career. How can that reason even be a big enough motivation for people to stick with a language for a few years till fluent? In fact, my internship boss ask me once why i learn korean and i just said coz im interested then he was quite shocked by my answer and told me that the reason he learned Japanese in the past was because he predicted that japan would be the next big market but he only got to basic level 2 before he dropped out and he doesnt seem able to use jap anymore. Only got cert to show off lol Anyway like steve jobs said, you cant connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect it backwards. I just hope people will stop asking such a question anymore.

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      10 May, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      totally true!!! I’ve met a lot of people who are learning languages that they predict are the “next big market”. Someone once told me that since I’m “talented at learning languages” I should go learn Russian instead because it’s going to be the next big market (his prediction) or some other language where they are more speakers. -.- sigghhh. Generally speaking, people with such motivation usually don’t last too long in their language learning pursues. Once they realize that it’s going to take them years to get to a proficiency level that can actually help them “tap into the market” they will start to feel that maybe it’s not worth their time to invest in it. cost benefit analysis lolol.

  • Reply
    Clayton Wong
    9 May, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    I think I understand. Here there is nobody I can study/ practice with – Korean language is not popular here lol. So I self study:). I started because I got tired of reading subtitles – my mom and her friends are big time drama fans, so I end up watching a lot. But now I continue because it’s really interesting and fun – so different from anything I’ve studied before. And for me that’s enough reason to continue :). I cannot find anything wrong with committing ones life to learning regardless if its useful or trendy. So please don’t stop – I won’t 🙂

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      10 May, 2013 at 10:38 AM

      yeah, the fun itself is a good enough reason to continue learning! ^^ I’m definitely not stopping too!

  • Reply
    Medallion
    9 May, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    I really connect with this…:) Thanks for posting!

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      10 May, 2013 at 10:38 AM

      Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Vanessa
    9 May, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    I’m a big (moral hahaha) supporter of people that want to learn a language (I mean, if there’s real interest in learning it, and not just “ah, because I have to so blablabla”).
    I think any new knowledge is valid – at any point in your life you’ll probably use it, even if now it seems quite hard to find a way to.
    But I think language is a special case, because the possibilities that it opens in your life are just different. To talking to new people, or if you work with another thing (like me, with Architecture), you can read a book about it in the language, to many other things. How can we know? We will only recognize the use when we are actually in the need of it.

    Here in Brazil, learning Korean is still seen as weird. Kpop is a bit known – the rest that still have no idea what it is will find it weird, and I understand. I would find it as well if it was many years ago.
    Even if I live in a so multi-cultural city, it seems “normal” only if you learn a language that is (besides English) 1. a common European language to learn or 2. the language spoken by your ascendency.
    Well, I’m not asian at all hahaha
    I don’t show out there that much that I study Korean, so the people that know it (and that on the beginning have showed the same surprise reaction) have already get used to it. But I think I’m more immune now to the reactions too 😀

    In the end, you’re the only one living your life, we shouldn’t get bothered by what people think it’s a “good” way to use our lives, right -.-

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      10 May, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      definitely, new knowledge is always valid and valuable, even though they may not seem all that useful at that particular point in time. Usually I don’t really tell people that I know Korean too ㅋ

  • Reply
    Dawn
    9 May, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    A comment totally unrelated to this post. But I was just wondering if you know about 九把刀’s app that has his books, for free! Search 真九把刀全集. It’s an official app by him, with a vid when you first open it up 🙂 I just found it myself~ pretty exciting!

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      10 May, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      yes!!! Downloaded it some time back!! Haven’t got to really read from it though – I’m more of a book person. ><; I love to read his books in print, since he plays with the font and arrangement sometimes and I find that really awesome. He's the only author that can fill a whole page with repetitions of the same word lolol. Do you have a particular favorite among his books?

  • Reply
    Elaine
    10 May, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    Hi Shanna!

    I’ve been following your blog for sometime. But i didn’t leave a comment before. This is my first comment to you as i really love this post of yours!

    We have nearly the same situation. Though i didn’t start as long as you do. But it’s not because of the popularity or k pop or dramas. I just simply like that country and culture thats all. I don’t care how people outside think about me. It’s hard to accept that my family and relatives are all not supporting me in learning languages.

    I tend to get questions like ‘you can’t even master your english and chinese what makes you think that you can learn another language’, ‘you are not working as a translator in future why waste your time learning other languages’ and even ‘you are “poison” by k pop, dramas and even running man’ from my own family members.

    But, the passion for korean language still remains. Regardless of what happen, please do not give up.

    Elaine

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      10 May, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      Hi Elaine!

      Thanks for leaving the first comment!! <3 Sorry that it didn't appear right away. The blog has a really weird system and quite a number of comments get sent wrongly to the spam queue. -.-

      woah those comments :/ I know it's hard to be completely unaffected and those stuff still gets to me sometimes even though I try to be unruffled. Glad that you are coping with them! ^^

      It's awesome to be able to find something that we are genuinely interested in and I think it's something that we should treasure ^^

      Hope to see you around the blog again! ^^

  • Reply
    Dusky
    10 May, 2013 at 2:25 AM

    I think it’s understandable that you feel that way. Five years is a long time and from what it sounds like you had your struggles. Those of us who are leaning at a different time and even place aren’t going to have the same struggles.

    I’ve never been told that Korean was useless to learn. The worst I get is a polite nod and a look that’s says “you crazy!” It’s not even the “you are kpop crazy” kind. Just crazy. I’m kinda getting to the point where I don’t really talk about it much unless it’s with my internet friends who are much more understanding. Granted, those people are interested in kpop so that may be the reason XD.

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      10 May, 2013 at 10:49 AM

      hahaha. I get the “you’re wasting your time” look more 😛 Yeah I don’t really talk about it much also, unless with people that already know about my interests in Korean. It’s funny that a lot of people assume that I really love Kpop and sometimes I get friends who randomly come to me to discuss kpop (the newest groups) and I’m like O.o. haha I totally don’t keep up with any kpop unless it’s YG family <3

  • Reply
    Sit
    10 May, 2013 at 3:27 AM

    Hey Shanna!

    Totessss know how you feel bout the ‘give Korean up and focus on more pragmatic things’. Being Singaporean too, I get told that it’s kinda useless to learn Korean when I can’t even use it in daily life. Like you, I’ve been self-learning for 5 years now (although, I’m certainly nowhere near your level; your dedication for learning is amazing btw!). I think I’ve got past that stage of floundering, wondering, what am I really doing this for really? It’s become such a huge part of my life now even though my major has nothing to do with languages. I don’t know where it’ll bring me, but for now, I’m just going to keep going because it keeps me happy. I’m honestly not into kpop and must say I get wary around people who say they are learning korean and start talking bout all these idols and groups I don’t care for. But then, I take a step back and think. Who am I to judge right? Everyone has different motivating factors for their own learning journey. Been a long time reader of your blog and appreciate every thought and effort you put into this space 🙂 More language meet ups in the future please? Would love to attend when I return home soon 🙂

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      10 May, 2013 at 10:52 AM

      Hey!

      ahhh this reminds me of the time when I was also wondering “why am I dedicating my life to this”. I still don’t have an answer, but I’m happy going on this path. ㅋㅋㅋ Thanks for liking the blog and I’ll plan something out soon!! Been busy with a lot of stuff ><

  • Reply
    Reyna
    10 May, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    Totally understand how it feels. I’ve also started to have interest in Korean during my University days back in 2006. But during that time, the language itself was not really popular and hard to find resources on learning Korean. I started listening to Kpop in 2004 and that was when my interest in Korean sparkled too. But I’m still learning the language now as I am interested to learn more of the language but people also tend to think that this is the wave now so that’s why a lot of people are learning the language. Sometimes, I also have the urge to speak out saying that I did not just started learning it because of the trend but I’ve been interested in it 9 years back then.

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      10 May, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      woahh 9 years!! That’s really early. I think I was still in my taiwanese pop / drama era lolol ㅋㅋㅋ Most of the textbooks are published / imported quite recently so I can imagine how hard it was to find learning resources then!

  • Reply
    xing
    10 May, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    I feel you! I get a lot those reactions when they know I’m studying Korean.
    Especially recently (Shanna, I’m finally going to Korea to do some intensive studies for 1-2 terms!), they will ask questions like, “What’s so good about Korea?” “OMG You serious about going to Korea to study Korean??” “What can you do after mastering your Korean??”

    I get all sensitive and ANNOYED everytime they question me about all these… Sigh. I just learn to keep silent because they will never understand ==

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      18 May, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      NICE!!!! Where are you going? ^^ I’m sure you’ll have a blast and learn loads!!! So happy for you!!! 😀 Yesss I get really sensitive about it too ><;; But never mind, I UNDERSTAND YOU!!

      • Reply
        xing
        28 May, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        I’m going to sogang, haha! getting VERY nervous because I’m flying there alone tonight and surviving on my own….! I’ve never been THIS independent *dies*

        • Reply
          hangukdrama
          28 May, 2013 at 1:10 PM

          TONIGHT?! WOAH THAT’S DAMN FAST HAHAHAHA. HAVE LOADS OF FUN!! don’t worry!! Everything will be fine! Can shoot me an email anytime ^^

  • Reply
    orbiter
    10 May, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    An American I met in Korea said to me after I told him I was there learning the language, “Yeah! It’s a good investment. You can use Korean in so many places, like South Korea…er, North Korea…and…LA!”

    Haha he cracked me up. He’s a joker; he speaks pretty decent Korean himself.

    And it being useless in your career? Hey, you never know. I’ve had Korean clients who took to me faster and easier just because I knew how to speak a little of their language. I’ve also even “eavesdropped” in a Korean conversation in a meeting – the counterparties were having a confidential discussion in Korean thinking that we didn’t understand. Oops. :X

    • Reply
      Michael
      11 May, 2013 at 5:23 AM

      As to Korean being ‘useless’ in Business… If you’ve been to Korea you know just HOW LITTLE English is spoken there. I did several business trips to Korea and that really kick-started my Korean. In other words, if your company does ANY business with Korea, the language will be extremely valuable. English in Korea is taught academically, but since there’s not immersion opportunities, almost no one speaks English. Yes, Korea is a small country, but most would agree, it’s a very important economy, and the career opportunities should be very promising.

      The same arguments could be made for Chinese, Korean, Japanese. If you intend to work in international business, or business in Asia, the benefits of expression and fluency shouldn’t be difficult to come up with. English is absolutely not ‘good enough’ to survive in Korea/Japan or China.

  • Reply
    Rachel
    10 May, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Been reading your blog for a while now and my first time leaving a comment xD Haha I can relate to some points that you have mentioned~ I sort of feel the need to explain my reasons for learning too lol. Granted it was because of kpop I took an interest in Korean things/culture/language etc, what spurred me to learn the language was because of the wikipedia article on Korean language LOL. I was intrigued by how Korean used to use Chinese characters as their writing system but the spoken sounds are different from that of the chinese one, which led me to learn the language as well as find out more about the relations between the two languages.

    When people find out that I learn Korean, their reactions would be, “喜欢偶像到那么疯啊” (My brain can’t come up with a English expression that can put across the intensity/level of “are you crazy??!!” and that is the exact phrase some people said to me). I get this urge to clarify myself cause they think it’s a ‘kpop phase’ or something and will wear off soon, and that I am wasting my time now. They get wary when they talk to me about kpop because they think I’m a some sort of crazy kpop fan that will jump down their throats should they say anything bad about it wth, just because I’m learning Korean. I am not even that into it, only interested in one group mainly and perhaps pay attention to 1~2 other groups, and they act as if I’m gonna go bat-shit crazy on them.
    I feel like I’m dumping my life story down here haha. Sorry for the long comment haha >_<

    It's nice to read your blog, it serves as a motivation for me to know that self studying is sustainable, been doing that for 2 years now and hopefully able to do so in the following years 😀

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      18 May, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      Hi Rachel!!

      Thanks for leaving a comment! Sorry it took me so long to reply >< ; hahaha I totally feel you about the kpop thing. I've people asking me whether I go for kpop dance contests etc since I love Korean so much o.O These days, I'm not so much into kpop anymore.. in fact I don't even listen to anything outside of YG stuff. When people learn of it, they are like OMG HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE KPOP I THOUGHT YOU LOVE KOREAN?! lol ><;; hehe hope to see you around the blog often! ^^ Thanks for liking the blog <3

  • Reply
    Van
    11 May, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Ah you must have heard the crickets very often back then.. I really hate those remarks and it’s called having a hobby! I don’t understand why can’t we do things because we love it. Everything is so competitive these days so we can’t even just enjoy the simple things.

    Haha letting those compliments get to your head :P?

    I still wonder if Korean music and culture etc is a fad or is it something here to stay. What do you think? Yeah it’s sad how people only see the “usefulness” of things these days.. Did you ever tell us your reason why you started to learn Korean? haha.

    Yeah it’s hard to just take people’s criticisms.. Even though I haven’t been as long as you have, people still question why I study Korean.. I hate having to explain myself so many times just about learning Korean. Especially since I’m from the USA not California either so I heard it a lot. I wish there was a bigger language interest in my University, and I’m too scared to go to the Korean student association :S (Maybe I should go? ㅋㅋ)

    What?! How are you very much unaccomplished?!? If you say that, then man I feel like I learned nothing then lol. I’m sure you will succeed with Korean! I think you just had a lot of pent up anger so it’s nice to know that you have many people supporting you now!
    Ps: I don’t think learnt is a word 😛

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      18 May, 2013 at 1:31 PM

      Go to the association!!! 😀 😀 I think you’ll have fun and it’ll be pretty awesome just to make some new friends! I’m sure they’ll be welcoming (:
      Not sure about Korean music lasting or not… personally I’m sick of kpop and will only listen to YG stuff. ^^

      • Reply
        Van
        19 May, 2013 at 2:15 AM

        I will probably try before I graduate so I will tell you how it goes! 😀
        Yeah me too.. Everything is just so blah these days.

  • Reply
    Alice
    20 May, 2013 at 5:47 AM

    “Why should I answer to others and why must I prove you wrong? I should answer only to myself and if the path I take makes me happy, it should be enough. Even if I don’t succeed with Korean (or don’t succeed at all ㅠㅠㅠ) I’m still very happy that Korean is part of my life.”

    Thumbs up for this sort of thinking. I have to remind myself all the time, because some responses and reactions from other people (especially friends) can be quite annoying or even to the point of hurtful. But there’s nothing we need to prove indeed. I love this post^^ Always be true to yourself 고고고!

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