Category Archives: Korean

I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-sook Shin, translated by Sora Kim-Russell

I'll Be Right There*STARRED REVIEW
“I do not specifically reveal the era or elucidate Korea’s political situation,” writes Kyung-sook Shin, recipient of the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize for Please Look After Mom, in the ending of her latest spectacular novel in English translation. Ironically, those missing details make this story urgently universal: in Israel/Palestine, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, and too many other countries in tumult, young people will continue to form life-changing bonds and fall hopelessly in love.

While people vanish without a trace and others die senselessly, Jung Yoon matures into young adulthood as she loses her beloved mother, meets a once-in-a-lifetime mentor professor, forms and renews intimate friendships, and creates “forever” memories with her first love. Her self-preservation in the midst of brutal turmoil comes at an impossibly high price. Years later, in spite of what she survives (and others do not), the title becomes an anthem to hope: “‘I hope you never hesitate to say, I’ll be right there.’” Shin’s searing, immediate prose will remind readers of Nadeem Aslam’s The Blind Man’s Garden, Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker, and Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love, and their stories of ordinary lives trapped in extraordinary sociopolitical circumstances.

Verdict: The well-earned lauds for Shin’s two titles currently available in English translation should ensure that more of her thus far 17 novels will arrive Stateside.

Review: “Fiction,” Library Journal, March 1, 2014

Readers: Adult

Published: 2014 (United States)

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Translation, Korean

Socks! by Tania Sohn

Socks!Who doesn’t love the unlimited possibility of socks? Polka dotted, striped, green, yellow, even holey socks add just the right flash of whimsy to perfect any outfit.

If you’re thinking of changing your look, choose either baby socks and daddy socks. Add holiday cheer to your footwear, or turn your anklets into flying gear. For your next performance, choose something long for elephant-trunking or something brightly fanciful for puppet-making. The imaginative little girl – always in motion – keeps her feet well-heeled, and even more so when a sock-ish surprise arrives from her grandmother …

South Korean artist Tania Sohn makes her Stateside debut full of spirited energy and vivid color. The little girl – her spunk adorably embodied in her double pigtails – and her always-ready-to-play kitty companion, are a delightful duo of sock explorers, trying on every pair with gleeful abandon. Captivating story aside, Sohn’s stand-out strength is indubitably in her art: her dynamic illustrations imbue every page with vibrancy, from leaping frogs to curious paws to soaring elephants. Go ahead, grab your bestest socks and jump in.

Readers: Children

Published: 2014 (United States)

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Fiction, Korean

Stingray by Kim Joo-young, translated by Inrae You Vinciguera and Louis Vinciguerra (Library of Korean Literature, vol. 1)

StingrayAt 13, Se-young is on the brink of manhood, but the person who should be his primary role model – his father – left some five years ago. Se-young’s seamstress mother works hard to support the abandoned pair in their small, remote village. Their constricted lives, however, seem merely temporary: the titular stingray – dried and preserved – hangs in the kitchen in expectant hope that Se-young’s father will someday return.

On a frozen winter night, mother and son are surprised by the intrusion of an older girl who manages to sneak into their home. Se-young’s mother fails to throw her out; instead, she eventually gives the girl a new name, Sam-rae, and grants her space in the small family. Se-young becomes especially attached to Sam-rae’s unpredictable, untamable spirit.

Sam-rae’s sudden disappearance proves devastating to Se-young, although he never stops searching for her. When a woman with a baby appears on the family’s porch, Se-young’s life is again disrupted and his relationship with his mother is irrevocably altered.

The book’s back cover quotes author Kim Joo-young’s own description of his slim novel as “‘a critical biography of my loving mother.’” As bonded as Se-young was to his mother as a young boy, his impending maturity increases the distance, both emotionally and physically. Just as Se-young gathers information about his missing father in limited snippets and passing comments, so, too, Stingray is more sparingly evocative than a detailed narrative. Emotions, reactions, suggestions, abridged conversations weave together the illuminating essence of a story about a pivotal year in a young man’s life as it expands beyond his once tightly circumscribed world of two.

Stingray is the debut volume of the “Library of Korean Literature,” a collaboration between Dalkey Archive Press and the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, intended to present “modern classics of Korean literature in translation, featuring the best Korean authors from the late modern period through to the present day.” An “unprecedented” literary endeavor, the joint project will feature 25 novels and short story collections that “aims to introduce the intellectual and aesthetic diversity of contemporary Korean writing to English-language readers.”

In spite of my Korean heritage, I know little about my ancestral country’s literary history; unable to read Korean with fluency, I’m one of those ‘English-language readers’ who is feeling especially grateful right about now. Yes, I K-popped with the rest of Psy’s almost two billion fans, felt vindicated over Kyung-sook Shin’s 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize for Please Look After Mom, marveled at the Mexican journey of scattered Korean immigrants in Young-Ha Kim’s 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize-longlisted Black Flower, and joined the two-million international fans of Sun-mi Hwang’s The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly. But now, thanks to an ever-shrinking global future, my Korean education is about to expand many-fold. Serendipitously, I predict 2014 is going to be my Korean year. Stay tuned … at least 24 more installments to follow.

Readers: Adult

Published: 1998, 2013 (United States)

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Translation, Korean

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang, translated by Chi-Young Kim, illustrated by Nomoco

hen Who Dreamed She Could FlyThis new year couldn’t start off with a better title. At a mere 134 pages, it’s perfect to read in a single sitting, although the story’s loving spirit is sure to linger. It’s also the ideal gift to share with anyone and everyone who holds a place in your heart.

“Sprout was the best name in the world. A sprout grew into a leaf and embraced the wind and the sun before falling and rotting and turning into mulch for bringing fragrant flowers into bloom. Sprout wanted to do something with her life, just like the sprouts on the acacia tree. That was why she’d named herself after them.”

Confined to a tiny space all her life, Sprout simply decides one day she will not lay another egg. She is soon culled from her coop, but survives the “Hole of Death,” even escaping the murderous weasel with the help of her duck friend Straggler, another less-than-accepted animal in the farmyard. In spite of her initial fear and worry, Sprout is newly empowered on her own. Out in the”vast fields” in which she can roam free, “Sprout stood tall and proud, clucking joyfully.” And then her wildest dream comes true when she finds another animal’s still-warm egg, protects and nurtures it, until Baby arrives to make her world wondrous and tragic, joyful and wrenching, and everything in between.

An international bestseller with over two million copies sold around the globe, Hen arrives Stateside more than a decade after its native South Korean publication. The author of over 40 Korean titles, Sun-mi Hwang makes her English debut via Chi-Young Kim, who has quickly become the lauded, in-demand, Korean-to-English translator since her rendition of Kyung-sook Shin’s 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize-winning Please Look After Mom. London-based Japanese designer Nomoco adds just enough haunting whimsy with black-and-while line drawings that introduce each chapter.

In straight-forward, simple sentences, Hwang manages to create a multi-layered tale of the most improbable connections that make up a family – and the surrounding community. Powered by the deepest emotions, strengthened by immeasurable bonds, Sprout proves to be a conduit for every kind of love … for her child, for her friend, and even her fiercest enemy.

As we ready ourselves for the many challenges we’re certain to face in the new year, may Sprout be our beacon for enduring inspiration and unconditional love for us all.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2000, 2013 (United States)

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Filed under ...Absolute Favorites, ..Adult Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Translation, Korean

Here I Am by Patti Kim, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

Here I AmI haven’t seen Patti Kim‘s name on a book cover in quite a while … more than 15 years have passed since her still-resonating debut novel, A Cab Called Reliable, was published in 1997. But who’s counting – all the good things in life are worth waiting for, right?

In a most memorable example of ‘show, don’t tell,’ Kim’s so-worth-the-wait picture book has nary a word in sight. Whimsically captured in artist Sonia Sánchez‘s dazzling panels-in-constant-motion, Here I Am is an exquisite book to be savored again and again … each ‘reading’ promises to reveal yet another delightful, thoughtful detail.

A young boy boards an airplane with his family and arrives in a dark new city. When he enters a virtually empty apartment, he longs for his brightly lit family home somewhere far away. He treasures his one memento, a red seed that holds within its tininess all the wonderful, comforting memories of back home.

His new life is strange and unfamiliar, marked with words he can’t comprehend and conversations he doesn’t understand. One day, leaning out the family apartment window watching the world go by, he drops his precious seed, and watches with dismay as a little girl picks it up and skips away. He rushes out in a mad chase … and after a few moments of initial worry, he finally begins to glimpse the many delights of his new neighborhood: delicious smells, finding a lost coin, trying his first soft pretzel, laughing at a bullseyed pup, wandering through a vast new park … and best of all, finding his first friend and discovering the limitless joys of sharing.

Kim’s only words appear on the final page as a letter to “Dear Reader,” in which she reveals her own immigration story that began “almost 40 years ago.” Drawing on her memories – “I have to admit, moving was scary … But it was also exciting …” – Kim explains that Here I Am “is about leaving a beloved home, coming to a different place, and taking on the tremendous task of creating a new life for yourself.” Overcoming the fear of the unfamiliar was the turning point for Kim, which she duplicates for her young protagonist: “What happens to us when we forget to be afraid? We loosen our firm grip on what belongs to us. We open our hands. We share. We give.”

Surely, this is Kim and Sánchez’s gift … not just to recent immigrants, but as Kim says, to anyone “facing something new and different in your life.” Unfettered by specific language requirements, Here is truly a universal story for all. No translations are ever necessary, as Kim “encourages you to live out your own story of arriving to that place where you can say, ‘Here I am.’”

Readers: Children

Published: 2013

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Fiction, Korean, Korean American, Latino/a

Black Flower by Young-Ha Kim, translated by Charles La Shure

Black FlowerEarlier this year, I received an email from a Chinese Canadian author, May Q. Wong, inquiring about “a shipload of Koreans who sailed to Mexico to find a better life.” Clueless, I forwarded her request to a few of my scholar friends and colleagues … but ‘lo and behold, I actually had the answers (the fictionalized version, anyway) sitting on my shelves!

Black Flower, longlisted for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize, is the latest novel to arrive Stateside from Young-ha Kim, one of Korea’s most acclaimed contemporary writers. Kim creates identities, relationships, conflicts, disappointments, and hopes, to reclaim a nearly lost moment in transnational immigration history.

You could read Black Flower as fascinating historical record: 1,033 Koreans left the port of Jemulpo (today’s Incheon) in 1905 on the Ilford, a British merchant ship, and arrived (after two deaths, one birth) in Mexico’s Yucatán as indentured laborers to be parceled out to henequen plantations. The Koreans believed they were escaping a homeland in the midst of shifting powers and Japanese colonization; instead, they were sold into slave-like servitude. Abandoned by their faltering government, the Koreans has no choice but to stay … and survive any way they could. Within the Koreans’ experience, Kim also bears witness to local Mexican history, including the abuses of colonial Christianity, the mistreatment of the indigenous Mayans, and the Mexican Revolution, which eventually (surprisingly!) involves a small band of Korean nationals.

You could also decide that Black Flower is – as the cover proclaims in small print – “a novel,” and revel in the interrelated lives of the passengers. At the end of the grueling Ilford journey, the unintentioned immigrants emerge stripped of status, all equal slave-laborers in the eyes of their would-be masters. Kim breathes life into a diverse cast, including a set of star-crossed orphan and aristocrat lovers, a deserting officer who falls in love with the wrong boy, a priest who abandons his faith, a thief who becomes a voice of god, a last surviving son whose facility with languages grants him access to unquestioned debauchery. If you choose to go audible, Rupert Degas (who narrates many of Haruki Murakami‘s titles) is as clumsy with the Korean language as he is with the Japanese, but his vocal agility adds convincing, haunting layers to Kim’s prose.

In an interview accompanying the PR materials (with similar information included in the printed “Author’s Note” at title’s end), Kim explains that the genesis of Black Flower is rooted in a second-hand airplane conversation that seemed “too mythical,” and eventually led Kim to Mérida in Mexico’s Yucatán, then Tikal and Antigua in Guatemala, to research this “forgotten historical moment.” He named his resulting novel Black Flower because “[b]lack is a color created by combining all the other colors. Similarly, everything is mixed together in this novel – religion, race, status, and gender … But there is no such thing as a black flower; it exists only in the imagination. In the same way, the place that the characters in the novel hoped to go to is a utopia which does not really exist in reality.” With elliptical snapshots that move between place and perspectives, Kim navigates that proverbial fine line between truth and fiction; his Black Flower proves ever elusive and wholly intriguing.

Tidbits: For further reading, check out some of these links. Now I know why we were able to find decent Korean food in La Antigua Guatemala!

Readers: Adult

Published: 2003, 2012 (United States)

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Audio, .Fiction, .Translation, Korean, Latin American

Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon

Snow HuntersSTARRED REVIEW
After surviving the Korean War, Yohan spends another year in a prisoner-of-war camp south of the new border that splits the country in two. Rather than return north, where no one awaits him, Yohan begins life anew in a faraway coastal Brazilian village as a Japanese tailor’s apprentice. As the years pass, “He wondered what choice there was in what was remembered; and what was forgotten.”

Damaged by war, Yohan’s life before and after is circumscribed by quiet relationships – first with his widowed father and a childhood friend, then with the tailor Kiyoshi, the church groundskeeper, and two parentless children: “that in their silences there had been a form of love.” Having already lost family, friends, language, and country, Yohan slowly sheds his solitude when gentle Kiyoshi dies and opens up to the possibility of attachment and love.

Verdict: Yoon’s debut novel began as a 500-page draft pared down to about 200 pages that reveal the same shimmering, evocative spareness of his 2009 collection, Once the Shore. The result is that rare, precious gem, with every remaining word to be cherished for the many discarded to achieve perfection. One of this year’s best reads.

Review: “Fiction,” Library Journal, June 1, 2013

Readers: Adult

Published: 2013

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Filed under ...Absolute Favorites, ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, Korean, Korean American, South American

Prophecy [Book 1 of Prophecy Series] by Ellen Oh + Author Interview

As the mother of three young girls, Ellen Oh is constantly on the lookout for good books that showcase female empowerment. She’s found a few here and there – say, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson, The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, and maybe a few others – but to ask for characters with whom her Korean American daughters might directly identify seemed too tall an order. So the former entertainment lawyer and adjunct college professor decided to write her own: Prophecy, the first of a planned trilogy, debuts this month.

“People feared Kira,” the heart-thumping, fantastical young adult novel begins. With her yellow eyes and unprecedented fighting skills, Kira is hardly the average teenager, much less the picture of modesty and subservience befitting a court royal. Her uncle the King considers her a “freak of nature, and a terrible embarrassment to the royal family,” and yet he must rely on her warrior strength to protect his only son and royal heir.

Throughout a fantasy version of third-century Korea, demons, imps, hobgoblins, and shamans threaten the entire peninsula, falling the seven kingdoms one by one. In Kira’s home kingdom of Hansong, evil forces are moving through the ranks, possessing even once-trusted officials. The horrific events that the great ancestor, the Dragon King, prophesied are proving true: “Seven will become three. Three will become one. One will save us all.”

When and how did the idea for your Prophecy trilogy come to you? Did Kira arrive fully formed like Athena? Or did you struggle to bring her to life?
Kira and [her cousin Prince] Taejo were the easiest characters for me to write, because they did literally spring out of my head, much like Athena – I love that analogy, by the way. I like pretending I’m Zeus! The cousins arrived fully formed, with very specific details about how I wanted them to be. When the idea for Prophecy first came to me, it was about a young prince who is believed to be the hero of a legend. But as the legend progresses, his female cousin – who is also his bodyguard and a far better warrior – turns out to be the true hero. I initially wrote Prophecy from Taejo’s perspective, but he was coming out too whiny and jealous. That changed when the point of view switched over to Kira’s. That’s when the story became more alive, moved faster, and became more relatable, at least to me. Which makes sense because the story was always about Kira – I just had to let her tell it.

Besides the shift in perspective, did the story change in other ways over the various revisions?
I think, overall, the story became more emotional. As a writer, I tend to be oriented more toward action, action, action. Both my agent and editor were really good at making me pause and ask, “Yeah, but what does Kira feel when this happens, or that happens?” I always knew the “how” and “what,” but during the revision process, I had to really work on expressing Kira’s reactions, her emotions.

Besides the obvious fact of your Korean ancestry, why did you choose to set your first novel in ancient Korea? As a fantasy writer, you pretty much have unlimited freedom as to where and when.
I chose ancient Korea for two specific reasons: the first was just practical – I couldn’t find anything like a fantasy adventure story set in ancient Korea in libraries or bookstores; the second was more personal – ancient Korea was such a fascinating, turbulent time with kingdoms changing, collapsing, being taken over, dealing with amazing politics and endless intrigue. But the specific moment I realized I had to write about ancient Korea was when I read a Genghis Khan biography and came to a point in the book when the Mongols invade Korea, and the entire royal court flees to Ganghwa Island (which is at the mouth of the Han River), where the Mongols aren’t able to cross the river to get to them. The Korean leaders are out there laughing, while the poor peasants are getting raped and killed by the Mongols. And then the royals, who’ve been safe and sound in their island fortress, come back to tax the hell out of the peasants and steal all their food. All those layered dynamics between the haves and have-nots were just so visual, interesting, and ultimately inspiring to me. That was feudal society at its best – from my perspective as someone who’s interested in the history – and at its worst – from a human perspective because you really see the worst of what people in power do to their citizens. And through it all, the common peasants endure and survive. [... click here for more]

Author interview: Feature: “An Interview with Ellen Oh,” Bookslut.com, January 2013

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2013

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Filed under ...Author Interview/Profile, ..Middle Grade Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Fiction, Korean, Korean American

Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad by Melanie Kirkpatrick

Please allow me to share a so-called North Korean political joke: “Kim Jong Il and Vladimir Putin … decide to … see whose bodyguards are more loyal. Putin calls his bodyguard Ivan, opens the window of their twentieth-floor meeting room, and says: ‘Ivan, jump!’ Sobbing, Ivan says: ‘Mr. President, how can you ask me to do that? I have a wife and child waiting for me at home.’ Putin … apologizes to Ivan, and sends him away…. Kim Jong Il … calls his bodyguard…. ‘Lee Myung-man, jump!’…. Lee … is just about to jump … when Putin grabs him and says: ‘… If you jump out this window, you’ll die!…’ Lee … tries to escape Putin’s embrace and jump…: ‘President Putin, please let me go! I have a wife and child waiting for me at home!’

Ghastly humor aside, the tragic joke barely disguises the inhumane policies of the world’s most secretive, repressive regime. In Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad, former Wall Street Journal journalist Melanie Kirkpatrick documents the desperate, dangerous flight of North Koreans toward an uncertain new life. Drawing parallels with American slaves seeking freedom 150 years and continents apart, Kirkpatrick traces North Korean journeys through a network of clandestine routes, safe houses, and courageous individuals willing to compromise their own safety to help others.

For North Koreans attempting to escape starvation, torture, repression, and worse, the “new underground” begins just over the border in China. Because of China’s official political support of North Korea, the Chinese government refuses to recognize escapees as refugees (even though China has signed the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees). Nor does China allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to operate in the country.

North Koreans in China live constantly under threat of arrest and repatriation. Women are often trafficked, sold as “brides” in response to a shortage of partners in China (due to that country’s history of male preference that has created a “sex imbalance … [of] epic proportions).” The children of these North Korean/Chinese unions perhaps suffer the most, trapped in stateless limbo: The fear of exposing a North Korean mother’s illegal status prevents a Chinese father from officially registering the child who, in effect, doesn’t exist and therefore has no access to education and healthcare.

Within and beyond China, remarkable heroes extend the escape networks into numerous Asian countries as they work to send North Korean escapees to freedom in South Korea and beyond. These heroes include: Steve Kim, founder of 318 Partners (named for Article 318 of the Chinese criminal code which sent him to jail for aiding North Koreans in China); “Mary and Jim,” a retired couple, who run orphanages in China for mixed children abandoned by missing North Korean mothers and desperate Chinese fathers (the undocumented status of these children makes them ineligible for adoption); and “Mr. Jung,” who has undergone face-changing surgeries to repeatedly fool Chinese authorities while rescuing South Korean prisoners of war held illegally in North Korea since 1953.

The tenacity of such brave individuals is sharply contrasted with the failure of the world – especially South Korea, the United States, even the United Nations – to confront and combat North Korea’s atrocities. Kirkpatrick convincingly argues that escaped North Koreans – from starving children to highly-placed officials – will prove to be the best weapon against toppling the despotic, third-generation Kim regime.

Kirkpatrick is a methodical writer, and Escape from North Korea is a solid, matter-of-fact title that falls somewhere in between the unrelenting brutality of Blaine Harden’s recent Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, and the flowing narrative of Barbara Demick’s lauded 2010 National Book Award nonfiction finalist, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. As literature, Escape from North Korea is efficient at best; it reads like a series of separate articles patched together. Certain details are unnecessarily repetitive (such as explaining yet again who North Korean founder Kim Il Sung is, two-thirds through the book). Other details seem oddly missing and sometimes surprisingly inaccurate. Kirkpatrick refers to the underground railroad-multiplying organization LiNK (Liberty in North Korea) as “founded at Yale University in 2004 by two Korean-American students,” but identifies only one founder (whose story is one of the book’s most inspiring). Meanwhile, however, Kirkpatrick neglects to tell readers about the never-named co-founder who was actually already a California college graduate when LiNK began.

Quibbles, inaccuracies, and typos aside, Kirkpatrick undoubtedly offers an eye-opening opportunity to explore an overlooked, pressing topic. She shares with readers the harrowing testimonies, the wrenching struggles, and the inspiring successes. Regretfully, in its current incarnation, Escape reads like a powerful draft waiting for a diligent editor’s transformative prowess.

Review: Christian Science Monitor, November 26, 2012

Readers: Adult

Published: 2012

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Nonfiction, Korean, Korean American, Nonethnic-specific, North Korean

My First Book of Korean Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Henry J. Amen IV and Kyubyong Park, illustrated by Aya Padrón

No matter where you’ve been hiding, someone has been able to infiltrate your defenses and made you watch the freakishly popular “Gangnam Style” by PSY (in Korean, 싸이, although apparently it’s short for ‘psycho’). The South Korean singer (educated at Boston University and Berklee College of Music, I must add) is an international mega-superstar-in-the-making; his viral prominence has produced more than enough “Gangnam” spin-offs to keep you YouTube-ing for days. [If you need a shortcut, the best is "Umma Gangnam Style." Really.]

So what does all that have to do with this kiddie book? Timing, of course! It’s always about the timing!

I can’t tell you the number of times people have asked me ‘what’s he saying?’ in spite of my rather rusty Korean. [Pretty good answer here, by the way. Even better answer here.] So … given this unexpected interest in Korean, why not start teaching the younger ones earlier than later with this clever, playful, adorably illustrated hybrid of Korean and English?

“The goals of My First Korean Words are multiple,” the informative “Preface” explains, “… to familiarize children with the sounds and structure of Korean speech; to introduce core elements of Korean culture; to illustrate the ways in which languages differ in their treatment of everyday sounds, and to show how, through cultural importation, a single world can be shared between languages.”

“A is for achim,” or breakfast, with comes with a direct question for the young reader, “Would you eat rice and veggies for breakfast” as many Koreans do? “E is for echwi,” the sound of a Korean sneeze, with a note contrasting it with “achoo!” in English. “L is for lamb,” which is yang in Korean, but no ”l’-sound exists in the Korean language, just as “Q is for queen,” or wangbi in Korean, which comes with the gentle question, “Did you guess that the Korean language doesn’t have a Q sound?” “R is for roket,” which clearly borrows from the English “rocket.”

Most serendipitously, “N is for nolda,” which means “I play”; yes, various conjugations of the Korean word for ‘to play’ gets oft-repeated throughout that addictive video – just one more reason to listen again! If you find you need to do more deciphering, the same trio you see here of editor Amen/language software creator Park/artist Padrón also wrote the highly-rated Korean for Beginners: Mastering Conversational Korean for the determined Korean language seeker. Might be high time to order my own copy … if nothing else, to get beyond “Gangnam Style”!

Readers: Children

Published: 2012

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Nonfiction, Korean, Korean American