진안의 아름다운 사람들에 제 미안하기들을 주세요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on October 21, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Please give my apologies to the beautiful people of Jinan.

“홍삼이 흙처럼 맛이에요.”

I think this was my best line from last night. Poor 목사님 has a thankless job, as he was left wondering, “Why do you think red ginseng tastes like dirt?” More specifically, “Why ‘dirt’ in particular?”

“Cuz that was the first descriptive word that popped in my mind as I was drinking the sample.”

This is an example of the kind of slog my Korean teachers have to go through to get me to sound halfway human.


저는 여우처럼 바보예요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on October 17, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: I’m an idiot like a fox.

I don’t want to be mean(er) about the writers of this book, but I’m reasonably sure I can get these questions correct without listening to the dialogue. I’m guessing Michael pays using a card. And this electronic dictionary he (presumably) buys isn’t heavy. And that it can’t be fixed without a warranty. Just saying…

저는 다음 한국인 Shakespeare예요!

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on October 15, 2018 by shenanitim


I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially since my teacher gave me a dialogue book to use to practice my pronunciation. But I truly believe my practice would be more fruitful if I wasn’t spending half the time wondering why Koreans apparently talk in non-sequiturs.

“Oh my God, I just shit myself! Someone get me a towel!”

“Here you are; what happened?”

“How hot is the Sun?”

“I have the towel here for you.”

“How much would that towel weigh… on Venus?”

“Please, it’s starting to stink. Just take the towel.”

“If you multiply the square of God’s name by a thousand, then write the answer in Arabic, and subtract my stool’s volume from the resulting number, what would the answer be – backwards?”

“What are you talking abou… is that even a question?”

“I love you.”

And, after a rash of familial suicides, they lived happily ever after. Amen.

전주에 다른 밤예요

Posted in Free-Range Tampa on October 8, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Another Night in Jeonju.

Oi, I was stopped twice on my way to the store today. The first conversation was great, cuz it was a good 90% in Korean. And it didn’t veer into any weird directions, or earn me weird glances, meaning I was following along well enough. Until the end, when they wanted me to go take part in a Korean ancestral ceremony (again). I told them I had already did that song and dance (minus calling it a “song and dance”), cuz if Saturday’s teacher taught me anything, it’s that THAT would not have gone over well.

Then they wanted to know “with who?”

“Look honey, I barely can remember my students’ names once our classes rotate. Seriously there’s one shy girl who comes out of her shell to say ‘hi’ to me between classes, and I have no clue what her name is. I’m guessing her parents weren’t prescient enough to name her the Korean equivalent to ‘shy girl.’ There’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell I’ll remember random Korean cult dude’s name was.”

Luckily my Korean is now strong enough to explain why I a.) never have my cell phone with me, b.) have never even bothered to learn my phone number, and c.) didn’t learn the previous teacher’s name. [Full Disclosure: I believe I have that guy as a contact on KakaoTalk, but given I’ve never contacted him, he has no clue we’re quasi-connected.] After basking in their stares of abject horror (since not loving cell phones in Korea to akin to admitting to terrorism), I thanked them for boosting my confidence in my Korean, complimenting my blue eyes, and accepting my lie about having to run and meet with a Korean friend.

I did, however, find out why remembering the name is apparently so important. It seems I was supposed to keep in contact with him, and as we talked my good fortune would accrue. At first I thought that was a silly idea, but 5hen I thought about my own religious friends.

How many of us have religious friends who go to church( every Sunday, no matter what? How is that any different from their luck accrual belief? You ever wonder just what your religious friends are doing so much of that forces them to continuously atone for their sins? Or why they don’t select a spiritual system more in line with their own values?

성경은 문제들이에요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on September 17, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation(?): Biblical Problems

I also failed my Korean course’s final quiz yesterday, when my teacher asked who would help me on my (bike) trip. “My friends,” I replied, cuz they’re the ones I rely on when I can’t solve something myself.

Wrong answer, cuz my friends aren’t everywhere. (Despite everyone having a cell phone.)

Which leaves only me. Which was the wrong answer again. And again. And again. As I kept asking for the question to be restated, as well as her incomprehensible (to me at least) answer.

Turns out I was supposed to say “God” or “Jesus.” (Whichever one had the collective brain that day I guess.) She’s a sweet old lady so I had to hide my internal disgust, as well as NOT mentioning that “God/Jesus” gave me the disease that is shortening my life daily at the age of 4 (I have maybe one memory of not being a diabetic), and followed it up 10 years by killing my mom.

So I’m gonna continue to avoid GJod’s “help,” as it only causes problems. And I know, Jesus states in the Bible that in order to (truly) believe in him you must abandon your own family (Luke 14:26), so I guess that’s on me too. Cuz I’m not cool with that.

어젠 올해의 세 번제 생일이었어요!

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on September 15, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Yesterday was this year’s third birthday!

Apparently yesterday was my 3rd birthday, as (almost) everyone I see on a regular basis gave me a gift. The book and notebook came from 서영복 선생님께서 who saw me run out of space in my old notebook last week, and took steps to correct it. Along with something extra to fill it with (translations).

The yam (고구마) came from the bibimbab waffle lady who, along with her husband (the chef) come out every time I’m there and say hi. Hell, last week the husband literally said “good-bye” in the halted English of someone who is saying something they just learned for the first time.

And the cool towel comes from my journalist friend as an aide for my upcoming bike trip. He also taught me “purple” in Korean (자주 (색)). Also, he hooked me up with the Papago app which I’m hoping will be an improvement over Google Translate. As Papago is made by Korea’s version of Google (Naver), and thus has Korean roots. In return, I taught him that “Predator (2018)” should’ve never been released. Not even as a tail-end of Summer D.O.A. “blockbuster.”

(Not pictured is the giant coffee the girl at the movie theater gave me for… fucking up the transaction every week? She was the second person to think I was a journalist yesterday; which is happening a surprising amount lately. Also the corn guy hooked me up with water but that’s common at this point.)

부산부터 죽음 자전거 타기를 해요.

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on September 5, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Death ride from Busan.

I’m now —-><—- much closer to meeting my timely demise for Thanksgiving. Or maybe not, as every Korean I’ve told about my plan to ride the rivers from Busan to Seoul have been super supportive. Hell, even my boss was super supportive when he heard. All he was worried about was me getting to Busan. (“Uh, I’ll take the bus? How else would I get there? Is there a ridable road? IS THERE!?!”)

I can only imagine what my family would say if I told them I was gonna ride 600kms over the Thanksgiving weekend,

Okay, except my Dad who’d probably mutter something like, “Wha? You’re saying he’s still alive?”

지금은 이 공책이 멸했어요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on September 2, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Now This Notebook Has Been Destroyed.

I asked my boss to correct some of my Korean scribbles. (She’s cool with it.) But naturally she couldn’t stop at the sentence I asked about, plowing forward into the rest of my Bicycle Museum tale. Then… the speedbump.

I should’ve warned her that my tale veers into “Shit Tim writes down while shaving” territory without warning.

“The curator explained that the Japanese police department introduced bicycles to Korea. The museum has many bicycles. I work because I don’t want to be homeless. I met a Japanese cyclist in the museum.”

One of the sentences above don’t belong. Can you identify which?

매일 매일 비빔밥 와플이에요.

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , on September 1, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Bibimbab Waffles all day, every day.

(Normal bibimbab (still fantastic!) vs. the waffle-fied version. You be the judge.)

Since I stopped updating for months, you, the poor in-the-dark readers, don’t know the magic of bibimbab waffles. It’s been a staple of my diet for months now. Seriously. Usually on the weekends I’d eat maybe once (usually dinner after Saturday’s Korean class). Since discovering this restaurant, I’ve adopted a semi-normal diet? Maybe eating routine?

I’m now a regular. In that every staff member comes out to greet me each week. One brings the coffee. Another (the mom), brings out the waffle. Then the father, the cook, comes out just to say “hi” to me. Today, he didn’t even look at the other diners. Just the poor, addicted foreigner.

As if this writing, I have a little over two months left in my contract, and I’ve still uncertain about what the future may hold. On one hand, I’d like to see other cities (Sangju (home of Korea’s bike museum!) was a dream), but I’d miss the little spot I’ve carved out for myself here too.

어젯밤에 쓰기를 이었어요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: I Wrote this Last Night.

I don’t know if you, the reader, can tell, but my mistakes have been steadily decreasing as time goes by. Hell, the first correction (아침 -> 아침에) is actually what I typed originally. But Korean has a number of rules about when you use the “-에” suffix in connection in the present tense, and I decided to bet on the wrong horse here. I’m rather excited that I’m reaching the point where, when I get correction back, I can understand them completely.