I have made various half-assed attempts to learn Korean in the past, but somehow my motivation always fizzled out. Then a few months ago, I realized my daughter was much more interested in learning Korean when I studied along with her. I haven't found a class nearby, although I hope to enroll in one when we move into L.A. this summer. In the meantime, I've learned hangeul, and I've been watching lots of Kdramas for listening comprehension practice.
There are so many free resources for learning Korean on the Internet right now. You can watch Kdramas with English subtitles at My Soju, Vikii and Drama Fever.(Alas, most Kdramas aren't really suitable for children, although I did teach my daughter the 3 Bears song from Full House.) There's an amazing collection of vocabulary slideshows on Youtube produced by Korean Class 101. Here's one that teaches the colors:
This video helped me learn Korean phonics and pronunciation.
We've also used this series with my daughter. I recommend it, with a couple of caveats. 1) It's all in Korean, even the menu, and 2) it's a teeny bit annoying after a while. But it's well-designed and engaging for very young kids.
If you know of any other materials or Internet resources, I'd love to hear about them.
We were channel-surfing this afternoon when we came across an episode of Diary of a Foodie shot in Korea. The photography is gorgeous, and the segments cover North Korean cooking, oak mushrooms, and traditional royal cuisine. Warning: don't watch this on an empty stomach!
Yesterday my daughter and I went to a children's museum in Irvine, where we made "sushi" with construction paper. I thought it would be fun to adapt the project to make pretend gimbap. My daughter was able do most of the work by herself, and we already had everything we needed around the house.
a toilet paper tube
green, brown, yellow, and orange construction paper
Cut the tube into gimbap-sized lengths (about two inches.)
Cut a strip of green construction paper to wrap around the tube.
Cut green, brown, and yellow paper into small squares.
Glue the green paper around the tube.
Crumple toilet paper and stuff it in the tube. Glue rice on top.
Glue the tiny pieces of construction paper on top of the rice.
One of the things I love about Southern California is the random intermingling of cultures. Like the Latino workers at Arirang who speak Korean, or the chile-lime flavored ramen at the Mexican grocery. Today the local KBS affiliate ran a story about a group of young Korean-Americans who operate a taco truck. Check it out. I'm dying to try the short rib taco. They use Twitter to post their whereabouts.
In my ongoing search for Korean children's books for my husband to read to my daughter, I came across The Milet Picture Dictionary on Amazon. It includes all the basic categories of vocabulary a beginning language-learner needs, like words for food, clothes, parts of the body and furniture. The art is brightly-colored and impressionistic, and each picture is labeled in English and hangul, so either of us can read it with her.
If you've come across any great Korean-language resources for kids, please pass them along.
In April of 2004, I was enormously pregnant. San Francsico was in the middle of a rare heat wave, and we were buying the last of our baby gear in preparation for my daughter's birth in May. We had spent the day shopping for a glider, and my husband dragged it up three flights of steps to our Richmond District apartment and put it together. I plunked myself down in it, trying to imagine how it would feel to sit in it with my baby in my arms. The phone rang. A lot of Korean, with enough English mixed in for me to figure out that something was very wrong.
I live in Southern California, so you might think I would be surrounded by Koreans, but most of the Asians in Long Beach are from Cambodia and Vietnam. We have neither a decent Korean market nor a Korean restaurant of any kind. When we're craving kalbi we usually drive to Garden Grove, about twenty minutes away, or K-Town in L.A., which takes about forty minutes. Sometimes I think it would be nice to live a little closer to a Korean enclave.
I recently learned about this list of the U.S. communities with the highest percentage of Koreans. Although my city doesn't make the list, two nearby communities, Cerritos and La Palma, are number 2 and 3.
What's funny is that despite the scarcity of Koreans in Long Beach, our local Borders has a whole section devoted to K-dramas.
I've been craving jap chae lately. Jap Chae is a tangle of slippery glass noodles stir-fried with brightly colored, crisp vegetables and dressed with a hint of soy sauce. You can eat it hot or at room temperature. Along with kim bap, it's a great picnic food. It can be made with or without meat.
The Korean women in my husband's family don't use recipes, and when I ask them how to make something, their instructions are vague, so I rely on cookbooks, recipes scoured from the Internet, and my own taste buds. This time I started with a recipe I found on Jaden's Steamy Kitchen. I followed her basic technique, with a few additions like red bell peppers and a little more garlic and soy sauce. There are two things I've learned from watching my inlaws make jap chae: 1) Kitchen shears are key. The noodles in the package are very long, so cutting them with shears after you've boiled them makes them more manageable. 2) The best way to mix everything together at the end (after the jap chae has cooked and cooled) is with your hands. My sister-in-law always has rubber gloves around for this purpose.
We're in the middle of a heat wave in Southern California, and nothing hits the spot on a hot day like a big bowl of naeng myun. This week's L.A. Times has an article about naeng myun, along with a couple ofrecipes. I can't wait to try the seafood version. Yum!