A Single Word for Autumn in Korea

Dan-poong (단풍).

This single Korean word describes the period of time when leaves change color in autumn. In English you have to describe this event within a phrase (“the colors of the leaves this fall are spectacular!”), but in Korean all you have to utter is “dan-poong is spectacular!”. I love this about the Korean language. Complex events or experiences are often described within one word. (See jeong & han)

Dan-poong is a wondrous phenomenon of nature and deserves to be in this week’s photo challenge: wonder.

Korean Lessons: How Many Ways Can We Use ‘Go’ and ‘Come’?

By writing this post — by examining the Korean words below more closely — I’ve gained a greater understanding of my difficulty reading English subtitles in Korean TV dramas. English subtitles seem to be so long, while actors seem to be saying so little. They appear to use far fewer syllables to express themselves. Another reason for the shorter discourse may be that much of what they say is based on context, so they don’t need to say certain words like English speakers have to. This shortens the Korean sentence and makes the English translation seem quite lengthy.

Of course this theory is based on my limited experience of Korean, but when I watched Secret Garden yesterday on mysoju.com, I had to keep pressing pause to stay with the dialogue. The actors seemed to say one sentence, but the subtitles were written in three! It’s it very hard to keep up with a lengthy written dialogue when scenes switch over following the actors’ speedy verbal pace.

Below are words I had fun playing with today. It’s especially the last four words that brought about the above written reflection. Please feel free to correct, or question me if you notice anything wrong or confusing. This is very much an experiment in my language learning.

가다 (To go); 오다 (To come)

Notice how the ending of each colored word (verb) end with either of these two verbs.


to go back or to die. this form of dying is much more polite than the one you might hear students talk about, 죽다; to come back


to take; to bring

Bus 타고가다/고오다

to take the bus to go; to take the bus to come

Jacket 입고가다/고오다

to put on the jacket to go; to put on the jacket to come

Tuque 쓰고가다/고오다

to put on the tuque to go; to put on the tuque to come

Sneakers 신고가다/고오다

to put on the sneakers to go; to put on the sneakers to come

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Why Is This Word Stuck in My Head!?

법정하다 (beop-jeong-ha-da)

– to provide (something) by law.

Who knows where I picked this one up. It’s amazing to notice what vocabulary sticks. Yesterday I couldn’t even remember how I should address my sister-in-law, but I remember the verb for making something lawful? Linguistics is truly a mystery.

Hmmm…curious how ‘law’ is involved in both the English versions of the words I was playing with. Just noticed that, and I like it.

Sorry 아가씨 agassi! (miss/madmoiselle)

Korean Lessons: Your Key Takes My Breath Away

How many times can I try to learn Korean? I’ve tried quite a few times since I moved to Daegu in 2005. I had almost given up, but since summer vacation began, I’ve started studying Hangeul (Korean) once again. This time I have the luxury of having one-on-one lessons, and I must say I wish I could have taken this route years ago. 윤애숙선생님 (Yoon Ae Sook Teacher) is exceptionally supportive, and I am grateful for her patience. She never flinches when I forget one of those words we’ve studied over and over again. She is a pivotal reason why I feel like I’m actually retaining the language this time around.

My teacher is in the upper left hand corner

(this is a picture of the class I took with other Keimyung University professors during the fall 2010 semester. We had fun, but with my hectic schedule, I couldn’t continue during the spring semester.)

To celebrate my renewed studies, I’ll be posting words or expressions that strike me in a curious way.

숨쉬어야해요! – I have to take a breath!

It’s really hard for me to say this expression, but it’s also lots of fun to try. There seems to be far too many vowels connected to the “sh” sound. I think it’s also the paradox of this expression that I enjoy. It’s supposed to express the fact that one needs to take a breath and perhaps relax, but actually saying this is quite a tongue twister. Not my idea of a soothing breath.

열쇠 (yeol sway)

I love saying this word. It sounds sexy to me, but guess what it means — 열쇠 is a key!

Stay tuned to learn about the Korean words that get stuck in my head just like a song would.