K-pop and Korean entertainment from Korean fans' perspective

Tyler Rasch's column on Korean + learning a new language

Tyler Rasch

JTBC 'Abnormal Summit' panelist

Column: [Abnormal Eyes of Tyler Rasch] Korean language which you 'eat' rice cake soup, age, and even friends

One of the questions I get the most is, "is Korean food eatable for you? Isn't it too spicy?" It's probably because I'm an American residing in Korea. But what's actually hard is not the food I eat, it's the expression 'to eat'. This verb is used in a variety of situations so it's hard to understand a lot of times. For example, when it's New Year, you don't just eat rice cake soup, you also 'eat one more age'. So I was scared to get wrinkles on my forehead as I ate rice cake soup, which led to 'eating scariness'. When I found that I actually got a wrinkle, I 'ate shock'. When I developed friendships, I even heard the sentence 'eating friends'. Looking at the uses of 'eat', you can tell how hard Korean is.

No matter which country you live in, eating and enjoying the local food is just as important as learning the language. It helps you to have a happy life. I really like Korean food to the point I sometimes forget what I used to eat in America. At this rate, I enjoy the hot and spicy Korean food as much as a native Korean. I eat everything including octopuses and Korean-styled Western food. But I guess I can't avoid my root even though I really love Korean food. There are moments where I want to eat the food I used to eat in America.

Days ago, someone asked me what food I wanted to eat and I got reminded of the smell and the taste of the chicken I ate at a small village in Chicago. My mouth got watery and my stomach even growled. There are many kinds of delicious chicken you can eat in Korea but Seoul chicken is Seoul chicken and Chicago chicken is Chicago chicken. The impact of homesickness was strong. The feeling couldn't be described by the Korean expression "땡긴다" (tempting). It felt like there was a hidden temptation deep inside my heart rising after a long time. So I bluntly said in English that I usually avoid, "I'm having a craving for fried chicken".

After this incident, I realized that I sometimes want to understand and express my feelings, emotions, and thoughts as an English-speaker differently from a Korean. This must be one of the human instincts. Learning a new language, especially learning Korean as a native English speaker is not just about the struggle of studying vocabulary and pronunciation. It's because learning a language is the steps of looking at the world, understanding it, and picking up different perspectives and a view of the world. Acquiring properly in this way could be a fast route of learning a language.

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