19 In Korean Culture/ Korean learning journey (:

The changes Korean brought to my life

It’s amazing how, simply by self-studying Korean (and watching all that dramas etc), have made me more ‘Korean’ over the years. Language and culture are always tied together and without realising it, I’ve already started to pick up many of the cultural bits of Korea while staying in sunny Singapore. I don’t claim that I want to be ‘Korean’ and I’m certainly not (and not planning to) embodying all the traits associated with Koreans. But here are some quirky habits (?) that I’ve adopted subconsciously without even spending an extended period of time in Korea! Some of which are not really… Korean xD

1. ^^

A friend of mine recently went to Korea for exchange and soon, she started using ^^ in her facebook posts. And it’s only when her friend commented on it that I realised that it’s not a very typical Singaporean emoticon. I’m not saying it’s exclusively Korean but it seems like that’s the default smile-ly face for Koreans. Singaporeans are more used to ‘:)’ xD ‘:D’. And subconsciously, I’m now using ^^ most of the time. I like to use this too ~~~~~~ kekeke

2. 검색순위 (search rankings)

This is a concept that I was previously unfamiliar with (or simply not bothered with). However, I’m now very very sensitive to rankings in all forms. The music charts, naver search rankings, portal polls, rankings of the top 10 4-D celebrities, you name it. I subconsciously check out the naver real-time search rankings every time I’m on that page. And cheer whenever I see my favourite singers hit an all-kill on the music charts.

3. Sharing food

I’m not adverse to sharing food in a big pot or anything but most Singaporeans are definitely more used to having their individual servings and using a separate common ladle even when sharing food. However, it now seems very natural to me to be with a group of friends and simply using our own utensils and eating from the same stew etc. Food tastes the best when shared among a group of friends and poking spoons/chopsticks into the dish!

4. Strange cravings

I crave for bimbimbap when I’m upset and I want hot stew in the hottest days. Bimbimbap is therapeutic, seriously! The idea of throwing random things into a big bowl, mixing everything up and spooning everything in is so.. comforting! Better than a tub of ice-cream. But I can’t say for sure which option is more fattening, but certainly bimbimbap is at least.. healthier? I used to avoid hot soup in the hot weather, preferring something cold like an iced coffee. But it just feels so good perspiring after a bowl of hot stew. 시원하다~~~~

5. Spice tolerance

I would say my spice tolerance have improved tremendously over the 3.5 years. And I’m no longer intimidated by the red, fiery soup.

6. I am now convinced that kimbap is a must-have for picinc food

7. My favorite catch phrase is 짜증나!!

8. Cracking an egg into Ramyeon is enough to make me happy.

9. I’m exceptionally sensitive to Korean and can accurately identify a Korean on the streets

I’ll suddenly turn my head when I hear snatches of Korean. It’s subconscious.

10. I’m now more tech-savvy

Koreans are very tech-savvy and maybe that has accounted for my recent interest in social media

There are still many more changes that I may not have realised yet. I have changed alot as a person since learning Korean and I think I’ve changed for the better ^^

Do share your experiences! In what ways have you changed or become more ‘Korean’ after learning Korean? ^^

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  • Reply
    16 July, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    In what ways I’ve changed after learning Korean? I dunno coz I’m still learning Korean. XD

    I LOLed at #1. Before, I never really use any emoticons at all. I prefer typing ‘Hahaha!’ than using emoticons or even LOL. I was also very strict with my tweets, I always make sure to have proper punctuation and capitalization before posting tweets. I was pretty uptight. But last year, I loosened up and started using ^^, kekeke, kyaaaa~~~~~!, (^__^), ㅎ, ㅠ, ㅋ.

    I can totally relate to #9. Whenever I’m out with my family and we see a group of foreigners, they’d always look at me asking me whether those foreigners are Korean, Japanese or Chinese. If I see any Koreans, I keep looking at them, snatching glimpse while I eat or talk or whatever I am doing. Whoever I am with, they’d always scold me and tell me to stop looking at them but I can’t help it. It’s not like everyday I see a Korean in the place where I live.

    After getting into kpop and Korean dramas, I noticed some changes in the way I dress. I started wearing shirts that are a size bigger than my real size. And whenever I buy a new pair of glasses, I always go for the pair which looks like the ones I see in Korean dramas. I was not aware of this change until recently when my friends noticed and told me about it. That’s when I realized I was slowly adapting to Korean’s fashion style.

    • Reply
      16 July, 2011 at 2:29 PM

      hahaha! yes yes the fashion style! the baggy top and tights and black plastic rim glasses! 😀 😀 i love how korean girls do their hair~ <3

  • Reply
    16 July, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    For me, I started spending bucks on Kpop concerts! ^^

  • Reply
    16 July, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    This was a fun article to read! I’ve probably changed more because of me being married to a Korean lady than because of learning the language. But as you say, both, language and culture go together.

  • Reply
    16 July, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    #9 me too! My new favourite game is to identify the language spoken by tourists on the streets (yes, eavesdropping is rude, but it’s not like I understand much anyway). I was already pretty sensitive to European languages, but through Korean, I learned that no, Korean/Japanese/Chinese are not “all the same”, and could identify them correctly. (Don’t ask me to recognize the dialect of Chinese, though…)
    I would be delighted to hear some Korean, but these days, all the tourists seem to be Chinese.

    • Reply
      16 July, 2011 at 9:57 PM

      I remember being out with a friend who’s good at Japanese. We would try to spot the tourists and I can spot the Koreans accurately and she the Japanese. When we tried to switch, we failed epic-ly hahaha. 😀

  • Reply
    16 July, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    LOL I’ve been using ^^ for a long time and never realized it was a ‘korean’ thing until much recently. Only because the friends I talk to the most on MSN have been korean and I guess I just picked it up from there. I so much prefer ^^ to :). I don’t know. 🙂 is like a blank smiley to me. ^^ has a bit more ‘feeling’ ? LOL

    Sharing of food, I don’t notice that. I just naturally use the serving spoon if it’s there otherwise we use our own spoons. It was only when my korean friend had to ask all the non-koreans at the table if they mind eating this way. I was like ??? –; Haha

    As for kekeke, I tend to use kkk more but i refrain when chatting with non-korean friends. Otherwise they would ask me ‘k what?’.

    Oh Oh Oh. I had the best 순두부찌개 nearby Tanjong Pagar. It was a 소주방 called 소주빈 (Food was still really good then) and it’s now changed owners I think and is now called 처음처럼. Limited menu but the food is REALLY GOOD. And the best part, it’s open till 5am. Woo Hoo! Great supper place!!!!

    • Reply
      16 July, 2011 at 10:52 PM

      소주빈… isn’t that the one near outrum park mrt? hehe are we talking about the same place? xD The new name is interesting! Like saying that they will be maintaining their food standards LOL. Thanks for the tip! Will go check it out 😀

      • Reply
        16 July, 2011 at 11:00 PM

        Yes! I had gone to 소주빈 well…when it was still called 소주빈. Used to hang out there every weekend. Got to know one of the owners a bit as he sent me and my friend home after a particularly deadly drinking session. ==;; Soju tastes so much like nail polish remover, I don’t even know why I drink it sometimes. But~~~that’s besides the point.

        The new place seems a bit empty now though the food is still good. I remember when 소주빈 would be pack on fri and sat nights during dinner time. The side dishes are a bit lacking now though. 🙁 Not much variety.

      • Reply
        16 July, 2011 at 11:10 PM

        They had awesome 김치전골!! hahaha my friends keep raving about 소맥 but I haven’t try that before. What’s your tolerance for soju like? 😀

    • Reply
      16 July, 2011 at 11:24 PM

      Hm. I was with 4 other friends and we finished 9 bottles in 2 hours.
      Drinking games are evil. Evil. Evil.

      My tolerance varies. Some days one shot is enough to have me sitting there staring into space and being generally unresponsive. Some days, I’ll still be ok after 1 bottle. Red in the face and probably not particularly chatty, but still able to walk a straight line. 😀

      How about you?

      I think Soju just tastes worse with each shot. XD
      I much prefer 막걸리.

      I’m generally not much of a drinker.
      How about you?


      • Reply
        16 July, 2011 at 11:27 PM

        I’m a huge fan of 동동주 and pineapple soju! Havent tried any other flavours though. The most I went was 1 bottle, and I was overstuffed with loads of 코코나라 chicken, soondae and what not. O.o I don’t drink much too.

        HAHAHA I’ve been thinking of 쫄면 for the past hour or so! D:

  • Reply
    17 July, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    I overuse OTL and ^^ and I feel crippled when I can’t use ㅋㅋ and ㅠㅠ. Haha.

    • Reply
      17 July, 2011 at 11:11 AM

      ㅋㅋㅋㅋ i know what you mean! ^^

  • Reply
    17 July, 2011 at 1:22 AM

    I use a lot of 헐, ~, ^^, ㅋㅋ, ㅎㅎ 등등.. I get frustrated when I can’t use them.

    • Reply
      17 July, 2011 at 11:11 AM

      I think I annoyed my non korean learning friends when i keep doing this~~~~~~ hahahhaha xD

  • Reply
    17 December, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    Interesting post! ^^

    Some of mine:

    1. Yep, the emoticon. ^^ instead of :), ㅠㅠ or TT (if I don’t have a Korean keyboard) instead of :'(, kekeke instead of hahaha, and overuse of ~

    2. Expressions! I currently overuse 찐짜 and 짱나 whenever I’m annoyed – and I use them subconsciously.

    3. Sharing food and beverage. Though sharing is nothing new to Filipinos, but using just one bowl without a serving spoon/ladle, drinking from the same glass,bottle is not that common. And sometimes I subconsciously do this too without realizing that I’m with people that are not used to this.

    4. Craving for Korean food when depressed. I dunno why, but… well, Korean in general calms me… so I guess same goes with Korean food.

    5. Expecting ‘service’ on restaurants and other establishments.

    6. Removing footwear when entering someone’s house. Actually in the countryside, most people would do that here in the Philippines, but usually the house owners would insist that the guests wear their footwear inside.

    7. Spice and chopstick tolerance.

    8. Bowing! We don’t really bow here. But now I bow when I see/greet teachers, when I greet foreigner friends, when I say sorry, when I say thank you.

    9. Yeah, I also subconsciously turn my head whenever I hear a Korean talking.

    10. Selca!

    11. Whenever I give/receive someone I respect (ie professors) with something, I use two hands to hold it.

    12. I pour drinks for other people. Here, you pour your own drinks.

    13. I pout more often, I puff my face more often.

    14. I use THAT hissing sound.

    That’s all I can think of for now… ^^

    • Reply
      22 December, 2011 at 9:09 PM

      SELCA!! and i know what u mean about korean food as comfort food!
      Thanks for sharing your list! 😀

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