Earlier on Saturday, I went to meet Art at the Reggae Bar in Itaewon to fart around with Kizomba steps. (Kizomba is kind of like a mix of African Zouk and Argentine Tango)
We stopped at the foreigner new/used bookstore, What the Book, and I picked this up. And it’s an absolute delight to read.
Not only does it give a lot of Korean Expressions, but also linguistic insights and historical /cultural background through folk myths, Confuscian philosophy, folk practices, and recent politics. I’d heard some of this before, but a lot of it was new and it’s presented in a really accessible way.
It’s a great glimpse into the world’s most rigid Confuscian society and the many ways people have coped with its demands, as well as being constantly under seige by foreign countries.
Some of the expressions are really humorous. Some are kind of heartbreaking. And mostly they feel very familiar. You can’t help but feel more warmth and empathy for the Korean people. It’s a great way to temper some of those daily frustrations you have when they say or do something incomprehensible.
Oh what the hell, might as well add my other favorites here:
This boring cover actually hides a real gem. Inside, in alphabetical order, are listed words that embody a cultural cue. For each word listed, the author gives historical or contextual background, as well as how the word is utilized and what kind of impact the concepts behind these words can have on your relationships with Koreans.
Designed with businessmen in mind to avoid cultural faux pas and have savvier business interactions, it is also a great reference if you just want to understand this complex society and increase your empathy.
Another not very exciting cover, but with great information inside.
Along with looking at the actual mechanics of the language with a microscope, Roadmap to Korean also explores the history of its inception, as well as the stumbling blocks and cultural clashes which you can avoid.