Between Calm and Passion: 001

Reading a novel in another language is somewhat a laborious process. Because there are a lot of words I don’t know and have only encountered for the first time while reading 냉정과 열정사이, I had to keep checking for definitions in Naver Dictionary (thank God for this extremely useful online dictionary!).

My reading process:

  1. Read a couple of paragraphs and try to understand as much as possible
  2. Underline unfamiliar words and grammar using a pencil
  3. Write down the sentences with unfamiliar terms on my notebook, and underline the same words
  4. Look for definitions (or explanations, in the case of unfamiliar grammar) online (or using a grammar book)
  5. Write down definitions on notebook
  6. Read the paragraphs again

It takes quite a long time if one paragraph has a ton of words I don’t know, but for some reason I quite like it. I don’t know if my brain has retained any of the new vocabulary that I’ve learned from the novel, but it’s certainly an enjoyable process. Maybe it’s because I actually like what I read–unlike the dry text and conversations in textbooks, a novel has forward-moving plot, so if the story is engaging enough, it keeps me reading and at the same time keeps me learning. I still like reading textbooks, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it’s just not the most fun way to learn Korean. /shrugs

냉정과 열정사이 can be translated as Between Calm and Passion (hence the title of this post). I’ll be posting some translations of parts I liked throughout the book, just because I really like the plot. Do note, however, that because I’m learning Korean and nowhere near proficient, my translations will probably not be accurate, heh. I’m merely using translating as another tool for learning Korean, and, well, it’s fun to translate!

Anyway, the plot of Between Calm and Passion circles around two individuals, Aoi and Junsei, who made a promise to each other when they were 20 years old that on Aoi’s 30th birthday, they would meet again at the Duomo, located in Florence, Italy. The novel is separated into two books, Rosso and Blu, with each book written by a different author and focusing on the point of view of a main character (Rosso for Aoi, Blu for Junsei), so it’s best to read the books alternately to get the feel for Aoi- and Junsei’s feelings and thoughts. My plan is to read Rosso first, then once I finish a chapter, go to Blu and read Junsei’s point of view.

Between Calm and Passion is originally written in Japanese, so what I’m doing is translating a translation of a work. If I studied Japanese really hard years ago I probably would have wanted to read this in Japanese, tsk. Ooh, and Between Calm and Passion has a movie adaptation which I have yet to see. I’ve been stopping myself from doing so before actually finishing the novel. Realistically speaking though, it would take a long while before I get to finish both books, so… D:

Meh, digression aside, here’s a translation of the introductions (I do not know what to call those short lines written before the first chapter. Introductions? Prologue? Erm…) of both Rosso and Blu. These are really short passages, but since I haven’t finished much of Rosso’s chapter one, there isn’t a lot of translation I can do at the moment. :/


Agata Junsei was my everything. Those eyes, that voice, even that smiling face that suddenly flickers with a shadow of loneliness. If Junsei were to die somewhere, I will probably know. However far a place, even if we will not meet again…


I believe that although a person may not remember everything that happens every day, the precious things will never be forgotten. I don’t think Aoi completely forgot what happened that night. Even though it’s uncertain whether I’ll be able to meet her again…

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

새 책들!

(Originally posted on my 비행기 Tumblr account)

The package my sister and I ordered from Korea (which took quite a while to get here) was supposed to be delivered yesterday, but for some strange reason we missed the mailman. Today we went and picked it up from the post office, so now my Korean novels are here!

(From top to bottom: 냉정과 열정 사이 – Rosso & Blu minibooks; 사랑 후에 오는 것들; 엄마를 부탁해)


Picking those books from a list of the many books I wanted to have was a chore. At first, I wanted to read Guillaume Musso’s 당신, 거기 있어줄래요, but thought that if I should read a novel in Korean I should start with novels that are originally written in Korean (Musso’s French, so naturally, his novels are originally written in French). But guess what? I bought a mix of translated works and novels originally in Korean. 엄마를 부탁해 is written by Shin Kyung-sook, and one of the books making up the novel 사랑 후에 오는 것들 is written by 공지영, but the other three books are by Japanese writers (Tsuji Hitonari wrote half of both 사랑 후에 오는 것들 and 냉정과 열정사이, whereas Ekuni Kaori wrote half of 냉정과 열정사이).

I wanted to buy 내 이름은 김삼순 as well, but apparently it’s already out of print? Hmm. There could still be some copies lying around somewhere, but I didn’t get to buy it. I should’ve bought 커피프린스 1호점 too since it’s quite cheap (it’s sold at Libro for 4900 Korean won–if converted, that’s less that $4.50!). Ah well, maybe I’ll just try and get them some other time.

I’m happy about my purchases, for the most part. I’m giddy to start reading 엄마를 부탁해 in Korean–I wanted to read it for so long (it’s available in English with the title Please Look After Mom) but didn’t because I wanted to get it in Korean first. 사랑 후에 오는 것들 is a novel that wasn’t actually high up in my to-read list, but…I dunno, I just wanted to get it. And when I found that there’s an available set of that plus 냉정과 열정사이 (originally 冷静と情熱のあいだ or Calmi Cuori Appassionati, which I’ve wanted to read ever since finding out about the plot) in mini format, I grabbed the chance to buy it. The minibooks are cute and tiny, about the size of my smartphone and smaller than my Pilot pencil.

Words cannot express just how ecstatic I am at just seeing my books. I’ve always loved reading stories and I love learning Korean, so to have those two things collide is just incredible for me. Of course, it won’t be easy to read these books; I looked at 엄마를 부탁해 and was floored at how many words I don’t know (yet). But it’s okay. I’m going to read everything in my own pace and just enjoy the idea that I’m reading a novel in a language that, for the first…18 years of my life (I think? I don’t really know when I actually really started learning Korean), was something entirely foreign and something I had no care for.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

당신, 거기 있어줄래요?

Above is the cover for Guillaume Musso’s novel, Seras-tu là? which has been translated in Korean. The cover is gorgeous, and even the introductory text draws you in. I swear this will be the first novel in Korean that I will finish. 

Here’s the author’s introduction:

누구나 한 번쯤 생각해보았으리라.
시간을 되돌릴 수 있다면 인생을 어떻게 바꿀 것인지에 대해.

인생을 다시 쓸 수 있다면 우리는 어떤 실수를 바로잡고 싶어질까?
우리 인생에서 어떤 고통을, 어떤 회한을, 어떤 후회를 지워버리고 싶을까?

진정 무엇으로 우리 존재에 새러운 의미를 부여할 것인가?

그렇다면 과연 무엇이 되기 위함인가?
어디로 가기 위함인가?
그리고 누구와 동행하기 위함인가?


I’m probably one of the best examples of what a self-studying person should not be. After progressing a little, I take a long, long break from studying and enter this…hibernating phase where I don’t give a care about my head slowly losing the vocabulary and grammar points I’ve studied in the past. This happened when I finished Beginning 1 and lasted about a year and a half (or so) before I went and picked up Beginning 2. After finishing Beginning 2, the same thing happens.

Language learning will never be easy for me, that I am sure of. To progress in any language, you have to devote huge amounts of your time. I remember when I started reading Beginning 1, I maintained a strict schedule, allotting three to four 1-hour blocks of Korean study in between studying for my exams. I didn’t do much of anything else–no computer, no reading novels, although maybe a teeny, tiny bit of Korean drama watching (heh). Looking back, I can’t believe I managed to keep up with the schedule, because I’m really not a stickler for schedules of  any sort.

…But maybe I diligently kept with it back then because learning Korean at that time, compared to studying for my exams, was just so fun. Not that it isn’t anymore (it still is), but really, the best days of learning anything are right in the beginning, when you fawn at every new word and every new grammar point and delight at forming the most basic of sentences. Those are the fun times. And then you reach a certain point when you start to think, I should know something else by now. I should be able to write more complicated stuff right now. Why am I not learning anything new? Why am I not progressing at all? That’s when it gets less fun and more of a chore. I hate thinking of language learning as a chore because it definitely isn’t and by all means it shouldn’t be, but sometimes it becomes exactly that. It becomes nothing but a set of hurdles to jump through and really, what else can take away the fun out of language learning other than that?

Right now if there’s one thing I wish while studying Korean, it would probably be for me to go back to the mindset I used to have in the earliest stages of learning Korean: that language learning is fun. That every new word is 신기해. That I don’t have to rush it all because every moment I soak up the language I’m learning something new–and that in itself is wonderful.

Tagged ,

Thoughts on Ojakgyo Brothers

Ojakgyo Brothers poster

With Ojakgyo Brothers (오작교 형제들) already past 30 episodes, I have to say I’m really late in the game. The upside of that is that I don’t have to wait so long to get to the next episode since I’ve got 34 episodes waiting for me–that’s double the length of a 16-episode miniseries!

Let’s get one thing straight first: these few past years of drama watching, I look through the list of airing and/or upcoming dramas to see which ones I’m going to try. Aside from currently airing shows like Tree with Deep Roots, A Thousand Days’ Promise, and Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, I had a line-up of older sageuk dramas and other shows I wanted to watch (see list)–Ojakgyo Brothers wasn’t even on my radar of interesting shows.

Then I saw this clip.


Yes, I got interested after seeing a cute Joo Won clip, not some meaty, tear-inducing scene about character struggle. I’m shallow, I know. ^^ Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,


My sister was looking for translations of Standing Egg’s song, 사랑한대, and couldn’t find one online, so I decided to try my hand (again!) at translating. Please note that this is a rough translation; I’m still learning Korean so there’s bound to be mistakes. :D

제발 stop 누가 날 좀 붙잡아줘
Please stop, someone please catch me
이러다 넘어 지겠어
With the way things are, I’ll fall
내 떨리는 맘이 세상을 흔들고 있어
My trembling heart is shaking the world

이제껏 한번도 느껴본 적 없어
Not once have I ever felt this until now
살면서 누구도 내게 가르쳐준 적 없어
No one has ever taught me this, either
내 심장이 터질 것 같아
I think my heart is going to burst
더이상 못 참겠어
I can’t hold it back any longer

사랑한대 아껴준대 지켜준대
He says he loves me, he says he’ll cherish me, he says he’ll protect me
원하는 걸 다 준다해도 나 하나 가지는게 더 좋대
Even if he’s given everything he wants, he says having just me is much better
오직 나만 한 사람만 바라볼래
He says he’s going to look only at me
온 세상을 가진다해도
Even if he’s to have all the world
내가 없는 세상이라면 아무런 의미 없대
he says if I’m not in that world, it wouldn’t mean anything

제발 stop 누가 날 좀 꼬집어줘
Please stop, someone please pinch me
꿈에서 깨라고 해줘
Please wake me from my dream
내 떨리는 눈이 세상을 흔들고 있어
My trembling eyes are shaking the world

이저껏 한번도 느낀 적 없어도
Even though I have never felt anything like this before now
살면서 누구도 가르쳐준 적이 없어도
Even though no one has taught me this, either
알 것 같아 사랑이란 건 하늘을 나는거야
I think I know, the thing called love is taking off into the sky

사랑한대 아껴준대 지켜준대
He says he loves me, he says he’ll cherish me, he says he’ll protect me
원하는걸 다 준다해도 나 하나 가지는게 더 좋대
Even if he’s given everything he wants, he says having just me is much better
오직 나만 한 사람만 바라볼래
He says he’s going to look only at me
온 세상을 가진다해도
Even if he’s to have all the world
내가 없는 세상이라면 아무런 의미 없대
he says if I’m not in that world, it wouldn’t mean anything

네가 아닌 것 같아 장난을 치는 것 같아
I think you’re not it, I think you’re making fun of me
너무 꿈만 같은 걸
This all seems too much like a dream

사랑할래 아껴줄래 지켜줄래
I’ll love you, I’ll cherish you, I’ll protect you
원하는 걸 다 준다해도 너 하나 가지는게 더 좋아
Even if I’m given everything I want, having just you is much better
오직 너만 한 사람만 바라볼래
I’l look only at you
온 세상을 가진다해도
Even if I were to have all the world
네가 없는 세상이라면 아무런 의미 없어
If you’re not in that world, it won’t mean anything


I think my randomness is going to make this blog filled with, well, really random entries. Such as this one. I love the trailer, and I’m really excited to watch the movie (will it be shown in the US? I’m thinking yes since there’s an English trailer going around). ^^

I am still amazed at how much Yoo Ah In’s face can change depending on his facial hair (or lack thereof). With facial hair, he looks so manly and gruff. Without, he looks like a boy. Either way, he’s gorgeous.

Tagged , , , ,

Thoughts on Tree with Deep Roots

Damn. This show is something. I initially watched this without really giving much thought to the plot–heck, Jang Hyuk is the protagonist, it’s sageuk, and to top it off, Song Joong Ki has a short (but AWESOME) role in it–that’s enough to make me want to watch, right? But boy oh boy do I enjoy this drama.

Song Joong Ki definitely improved on his acting. I first watched him in Triple, a disappointing drama that I still somewhat enjoyed. There I saw he’s got potential. A small role in Will it Snow at Christmas?, then Sungkyunkwan Scandal (I haven’t seen Obstetrics and Gynecology Doctors…yet). It was in his role as Gu Yong Ha that Song Joong Ki really showed quite an acting range. He flaunted, pranced, sneaked, schemed, laughed and cried his way on to becoming a solid actor in that role, but nothing prepared me for this revelation. Song Joong Ki was amazing as the young Lee Do. I felt each bit of fear, despair, frustration, weakness, and growing strength in every frame and every scene that had Joong Ki in it. It’s a shame that he only had a few episodes in the drama, but he acted with such ferocity that it feels as if young Lee Do were the protagonist in the entire story. Not a lot of actors can manage that.


One of my biggest misgivings about dramas where a character’s past is shown is when the younger and older version of a character don’t seem like one single entity with the very same personality. I felt that with East of Eden‘s Lee Dong Chul (played by Kim Bum and Song Seung Heon)–Kim Bum played Lee Dong Chul with a lot of rawness and brilliance, but Song Seung Heon’s Lee Dong Chul was different and well, different. I couldn’t really convince myself that he was playing the same character that Kim Bum did. The same thing happened with the main characters in The Duo: by the time the adult versions of the characters appeared in the story, Chun Doong was no longer Chun Doong and Gwi Dong no longer Gwi Dong. The transition from the younger to the older character must be seamless in order for the drama to work. As one of the audience, I should be able to reconcile the younger character with the older character and see them as the very same person, only older. The curious thing about Tree‘s Lee Do/King Sejong is that I actually felt that Song Joong Ki’s Lee Do grew to become Han Suk Kyu’s Lee Do. The way Han Suk Kyu spoke in certain scenes, the way he walked, even the way he felt despair and frustration in the latest episode was reminiscent of Song Joong Ki’s Lee Do. Now that is excellent acting right there. And while I admittedly haven’t watched Han Suk Kyu in anything, I swear I’ll get around to watching his dramas (and one film) once I can get my hands on it, especially Eyes of Dawn.

Oh, and Jang Hyuk! My reason for watching this drama. I love how his character bumbles in front of Muhyul and Lee Do, whereas his real tenacity shows whenever he’s alone or he’s investigating. Some people might say that his role is a little too alike his previous role in Chuno as the vengeful nobleman-turned-slave hunter Lee Dae Gil, but I say otherwise. Kang Chae Yoon may have some baggage just as Dae Gil had, but Chae Yoon went up the ranks instead of going down. He’s a lot more calculating than Dae Gil–instead of being all about brawns, Chae Yoon hides his strength and intelligence in the guise of a regular investigator. Oh, and while Dae Gil wants revenge for his family and for being betrayed by the girl he loved, Chae Yoon wants to avenge his father’s death by killing the man he thought was the reason for his father’s death, the King himself (!).

Initially, I thought the visuals of Tree was lacking, but after watching a few more episodes I think my initial remark was wrong. I began to appreciate the vibrant and rich tones and colors in each scene. The sets are also to die for, especially the ones in the palace. So are the costumes. (Meh, I am always in love with sageuk costumes.) The plot is outstanding, with twists and turns that gets the watchers thinking about what’s going to happen and wondering which character is plotting what. While I normally go for more romance in the dramas I watch (hence watching The Princess’ Man, which, despite also being about the politics after King Sejong’s reign, is centered on the love story of two people from warring families), Tree doesn’t have a lot of it (yet). It’s an action-packed thriller more than anything, and yes, I love it. I do hope Tree carries on with its brilliant start, because I am loving every bit of it.

Tagged , , , ,

Learning Korean NOT through textbooks

I haven’t been studying a lot of Korean these days, textbook-wise. The Integrated Korean book I borrowed from my sister is now back to its hiding place, as I haven’t touched it since school started–now that I remember it, I actually did, and I even brought it to school. Alas, I never read it; I just slept inside the library (I do it all the time now T-T).

Textbook studying aside, I am doing some sort of studying…if we count drama watching (heh, can it really be counted?) and comic reading. I’m still learning stuff, although it’s a different sort of learning. Comics give me new words and the casual kind of speaking style people use in everyday stuff; the bad thing with reading comics is that sometimes the artist doesn’t really use the correct spelling and instead write out the dialogs the way they’re said (e.g. 용 at the end of a speech instead of 요 to make it cuter, etc.).

As for dramas, I know some people don’t think one would learn anything in dramas, but there is something there. If you try to not just watch a drama for the sake of watching and try to catch whatever a character is saying, your brain gets to try and decipher the sentences as you watch it! Of course watching dramas tends to be easier than having to listen to all Korean podcasts like the 이야기 series of Talk to Me in Korean (which I love listening to) because there’s clues you get from seeing what they’re doing or knowing what the plot is, but you get some kind of practice nonetheless.

And culture points! Culture points! I once did a culture/language post while watching 추노 (Slave Hunters), dealing with the Joseon-era speaking style (more deference, less casual style). Now, while watching 공주의 남자 (The Princess’ Man–a short digression here, but isn’t the Anglicized title a little…weird-sounding? To me it’s not as fluid as the Korean title…), I noticed that unmarried women style their hair in long braids, whereas once they get married they switch to low buns with that hairpin decorating their hair. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that before, but I do now!

Here’s the change, from when Princess Kyeong Hye is still single

to when she’s already married.

See? I’m actually learning stuff! XD Not huge stuff, but it’s still fascinating to see these things.

A few more things I learned:

소자 = means I, me, myself, used when speaking to parents. Naver’s English dictionary doesn’t say whether this term is explicitly for sons or if it can be used by daughters, but I’ve only ever heard the male characters say this in 공주의 남자. The daughters use 소녀 when speaking about themselves to their parents, mostly–at least, from what I’ve understood from watching.

송구하옵니다 = I didn’t find the right term in Naver Dictionary (only found 송구스럽다, which is kind of the same, I guess, but not really) but as I searched through the web I found that someone out there wants to know what this means (just like me!), and asked this question at Nate 지식, which is kind of similar to Yahoo! Answers. Someone gave this answer:

송구는 두려울 송(悚), 두려워할 구(懼)를 사용해 ‘두려워서 마음이 몹시 거북하다’는 뜻입니다.

미안하다, 죄송하다란 뜻이죠.

Hmm…what else? I kept a list of them somewhere but it seems I’ve lost it. D:

Anyway, yay! I updated! I was feeling a little disappointed with myself for not updating this after I said I’d move to WordPress. I’m glad I did.

Tagged , , ,

Let’s live many lives.

“Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem.” I found this Czech proverb through the internet—it means if you know only one language, you live only once. It’s a very profound way to think about the importance of learning various languages: that we live another life for every language we can speak, and I quite agree. Having been raised in another culture and language, I have, throughout the years, come to appreciate the importance of understanding another language—and through studying different languages, learned to appreciate my native tongue.

My first language was not English, although it was a very close second. I’m not quite sure what my first words were, but I remember speaking Tagalog (a regional language in the Philippines) ever since. Before I went to kindergarten, my mother taught me how to write a few words on paper, which were, surprisingly, not in Tagalog; instead, the first words I have ever written (apart from my own name) were apple and boy—English words. My schoolbooks from early on were written in English; so were the children’s books and dictionaries and most other things I read. Even though we spoke Tagalog most of the time, the medium of instruction in school was English. Before I graduated from elementary school, I was already as comfortable using English as I was using Tagalog. By the time I entered high school, my preferred language was already English. It was apparent that in our impoverished country, only the people who could speak and write in English well were considered to be the well-educated—the elites. Students who could barely utter an English sentence without stuttering and mixing the p’s and the f’s (and the b’s and the v’s) were laughed at, mocked for not being able to speak English. Back then, I strongly believed that English was the only language that was worth using. Sure, it was perfectly fine to learn another language if you can, but English is the best. Why shouldn’t it be, when the movies I liked watching were all in English, and the novels I so fondly read were also in English?

My perspective on things started to change when I began to study Japanese and Korean. I had been fond of Japanese anime ever since I was a kid, but I was only fascinated with the drawings and not the language. Then I began to watch Korean and Japanese movies with subtitles, and everything started from there—there was a subtlety and poignancy in the movies that I never really saw before, and I wanted more. Before long, I wanted to learn the languages so I could make do without subtitles. After all, there’s only so much subtitles can do to translate the meaning, the nuance, the subtleties, from one language into another.

Fast forward to 2011, and here I am, fascinated not only with East Asian languages but with other languages, including my very own. I am still far from being fluent in the languages I am learning, but I have come so very far from the English-centered person that I was before. Whenever I look back to who I was then, I realize how narrow my perspective was. It was like I was looking at a wide world with tunnel vision: I think I’m seeing a lot because that’s what I see every single day, yet in reality I am only seeing very little. Learning a new language makes me understand and appreciate another culture, and I think that’s what  this world lacks: a better understanding of the myriad of cultures around the world and the beautiful differences that we have from one another. It’s like looking at the various colors of the rainbow: the range of colors is what makes the rainbow beautiful. Imagine a world made up of only one hue, wouldn’t that be boring? It’s the very same with languages and cultures—if your world was only made up of one language and you only know your own culture, your world is infinitely limited to what you’re exposed to, when there’s still so much you can see of other people’s lives and their world.

I think it’s a shame that some people think it’s unnecessary to learn another language apart from their own. I’ve met a few people who are astounded that I’m even trying to learn, given that it’s a difficult process to study a new language; I’ve met some who tried learning another language but stopped after a month, thinking that they’re not actually learning anything. But language learning was never meant to be a simple thing. Learning a new language is like going back to preschool: you have to re-learn everything from scratch—from simple, kindergarten words like dogs and cats to politics and philosophy—everything. It’s not as simple as learning a few phrases such as “how much is this?” or “where is the bathroom?” Learning a new language is building up an entire life, an entire culture, block by block, and the minute you learn something new, you realize that there is still tons more to learn. It’s a tough road to take…but it’s very rewarding.

Now I shall go back to that Czech proverb I mentioned at the beginning: Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem. If you know only one language, you live only once. How many lives are you living right now?