9 In Korean learning journey (:

[Novel] 우리들의 행복한 시간

For many language learners, the jump to read a novel in a foreign language can be quite daunting. The actual difficulty is one issue. More often than not, there is just this psychological barrier (?) that a ‘real novel’ is too difficult and that we are not ready yet..

I was the total opposite, buying novels when I was definitely not at the standard to read them (ie. few months into learning Korean) and attempting to read them anyway lol.

I always say “you will never be good unless you start”, so instead of wondering if you are of the level to read novels, just TRY.

So today I’m going to do a Korean novel review, focusing more on foreign language learners as the audience. 😀

우리들의 행복한 시간

Together with titles like 엄마를 부탁해 and 아프니까 청춘이다, it is probably one of the very popular books that you may have already heard of. And it definitely lives up to its popularity.

(Bear with my long-windedness today ><)

[accordion title=”Bit of a background: (feel free to skip)”]

First got to know of the existence of the novel via Yonsei 6 Reading Textbook when I was in Yonsei during summer 2010. An extract was part of the textbook chapter and I remembered how I was so hyped and intrigued over it. I don’t know if you guys have this feeling – the super super excited kind when you are working through a puzzle and feel that you are getting there and there is so much fun things to learn?

In any case, that particularly passage holds a fond memory in my heart.

More so when I watched the movie. (a few times). I bawled my eyes out the first time round and after watching it for the 2nd time, my love for Kang Dong Won is sealed lol

The novel is also special to me because I received it as a gift from Wei Xin! 😀 [/accordion]

I strongly believe that it is a book that should be on the shelf of every Korean learner.

It is extremely well-written, has a very nuanced and grounded writing style that brought out the depth in each and every character. I don’t know how to explain but the writing style looked simple enough at first but there’s more depth (and difficulty) to it as you read on?

(that is my opinion right now)

As the first novel I read… I first tried reading it in 2012 (4 years into learning Korean) and it was … very difficult ><

To be honest, I won’t recommend it as a first novel if you are one of those that get scared when faced with a huge chunk of words

Progress was really slow and I had to pause and re-read (and re-read and re-read…). Back then, I couldn’t really parse the sentences properly. It felt like I was reading but not fully understanding.

That being said, I highly recommend this book if you are looking to expand your vocabulary bank, especially with descriptive phrases beyond that used in non-fiction books. One of those books that you can get a lot out of and if you are looking to push your Korean ability to the next level, this is a good one.

I wrote about my thoughts after finishing the novel earlier this year.

Okay, I admit that this post is harder than I thought to write. If you have any questions or ideas, please leave a comment!

I guessed I just wrote a huge chunk of text that can be summarised in two words >> HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


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  • Reply
    25 December, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    Hi Shanna, I mus really appreciate your effort in telling us abt gd novels 4 us 2 read…where do u usually go 2 to purchase kr novels?…if there r a few websites, is it possible to name a few…I am really a gong gong wen come 2 tis websites….Gomawo chingu <3

    • Reply
      30 December, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      mm actually I don’t own that many Korean novels >< I bought a few on gmarket

  • Reply
    25 December, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Haha, I did the same thing. I bought a couple of novels way before I was at the uh… “recommended” level to start them. For Japanese, since I bought Japanese novels before Korean ones, it helped me realize that even though I didn’t understand it all 100%, it let me see what real Japanese looks like and that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was. For Korean, I was the opposite for a while lol. I was so lost but a little later it didn’t look so difficult. I got 우행시, 여덟단어, and 두근두근 내 인생 recently, then 세상에 머를 소리쳐 from way before. I love the challenge of doing things outside of the norm as well and books are love so I definitely couldn’t resist getting them when I had the chance!

    Also, Happy Holidays! I hope you have a wonderful season.

    • Reply
      25 December, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      너를!!! what even is 머를 omg lol

    • Reply
      30 December, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      ahh i wanna get 두근두근!! Another KDW movie 😛 hahaha. yeah books are pure <3

  • Reply
    29 December, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    I bought 해를 품은 달 when I was just starting to learn Korean seriously (like a few months). I might have understood a word or two every few pages lol. I have since bought a few other ones and I feel proud that even though I don’t understand everything in the description, I pretty much understand what is being said in the dialogues. I think that the beauty of reading in a foreign language is that it pushes you to understand things beyond the classroom.
    Anyways, I’m definitely putting this novel in my wishlist ^^

    • Reply
      30 December, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      hehe totally understand! 😀 I bought my first novel and felt really proud of myself too ㅋㅋㅋㅋ This book is really good (:

  • Reply
    20 January, 2015 at 6:13 PM

    “More often than not, there is just this psychological barrier that a ‘real novel’ is too difficult and that we are not ready yet.” That statement is SO true, especially for me. My Korean friends have given me short novels to read, telling me that I’m ready, but I certainly don’t feel ready. I’ve recently enrolled for an advanced Korean level class where my teacher assured me that after completing her 5-month course, I should be able to read both Korean novels and newspapers with little difficulty. We’ll see! Thanks for the recommendations! In 5 months, I’ll have to check these out.

  • Reply
    14 March, 2015 at 11:27 PM

    Hi Shanna!
    For a totally Korean learner beginner, what korean novel would you recommend?
    (Also, I really love your site, I can pass hours on it ^^)

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