Westerners and 한국어. Probably not a match made in heaven.

January 8, 2013 § 11 Comments

We’re not required to learn Korean for this job. We’re not required to do almost anything, really, except be born and bred in an English speaking country (yes, my hard work really paid off on that one), and carry any degree from any university. Like Bowling Chasing Management at VU (an actual degree, not kidding).

But the idea of plopping down into another country without a clue about how to communicate was never really too appealing to me. And, on a more serious note, I think it is important to understand the ins and outs (at least in part) of a native speaker’s language if you’re going to try to teach them another one.

Korean is so… different, though. It’s exciting and fascinating and weird and challenging… but so different to a western mind and tongue. “Engrish” is everywhere here, but something we don’t really think about is that it goes both ways. I’m not sure how long I’ll last before the Korean police are after me for numerous counts of murdered pronunciation.

But anyway, here are some great clips of westerners and korean together. Some fails. Some wins. and some… Jim Carrey.


This is a delightful clip in which Emma Watson attempts to disuade (in a friendly manner) Korean speaking people from seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Rather than saying “안녕하세요 (Annyeonghaseo– hello), please go to the theater and watch my film,” Emma says 아니오 하세요 (Anniyo haseo — something to the effect of ‘don’t do’). So, Don’t go see the film. If you speak Korean. Love, Emma.



It’s not all a hopeless cause, though. Here’s Johnny succeeding at “안녕하세요” during an interview.



There is not much I can say to introduce this one. Jim Carrey speaks Korean for “Yes Man.” All goes as expected.


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§ 11 Responses to Westerners and 한국어. Probably not a match made in heaven.

  • sjuniperj says:

    Absolutely amazing. Two years later, I actually really miss Korean, even when I can’t understand all of it. You get used to the cadence, ueber emotionalism and cuteness of everyday speech. Ah, quiiii waaaa!!! (cute-tuh!!)

  • wonderrrgirl says:

    I was supposed to comment on this entry instead, alas my bad. To think I’ve been using WordPress for a while. Anyway, yes, this is an amazing entry. I had such fun rewatching the Yes Man clip too.

  • Learn it. As much as you can. The more you know, the more it opens up so many experiences and people you might not have been able to access.

    • Most definitely. Are there any resources you’d recommend? Texas seems to be sorely (though rather unsurprisingly) lacking in the Korean classes department, so I’ve been attempting to teach myself for the time being.

      • I know a lot of friends who like Talktomeinkorean.com, and others who spent a lot of good hours with Rosetta Stone. It looks like you’ve got Hangul down, so beyond that basic websites probably won’t be a great help… beginner language books are the way to go. Amazon is probably your best bet for finding some beginner books (most SHOULD have CDs included for listening practice).

        I learned to read and write before I went, but started a class basically as soon as I got there, and I can’t recommend a real, difficult class enough (you’re probably going to get offers for language exchanges… which I never found terribly useful). You’re on the right track if you’re already trying to learn this far ahead, though!

  • seoulwinner says:

    Oh My GOSH!! Jimmy Carey butchers Korean so bad!!!! (\^o^/)!!!!! Its HORRIBLE!!!! There is no way the girl he is talking to could even begin to understand him.

  • We can get along in Korea without Korean to a certain point, but it helps. I cracked up at Yes Man when I first saw it. It’s pretty bad and has that unique quality that people in movies have when they are supposed to know a language well, but don’t in real life. They speak it fast, but with very bad pronunciation. One of the girls on Lost was the same when she was speaking Korean.

  • Chrispin says:

    this is a really interesting article. thanks.

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