5 Things That Happened When I Started Learning Hangul(Korean)
Like a lot of you out there, I'm not in school. I decided about a year or so ago that I wouldn't continue to pursue it due to the fact that I'm a lazy ass procrastinator. When I was in schooI, I had zero motivation to study. The first half of the semester I would come out strong, then around the middle, I'd tumble and just not get back up.
Recently, I decided to learn Hangul, which is the Korean language. I'm in the lowest of beginner stages. So much so that my lovely roommate texted me a picture of a Korean instructor. My decision stemmed from watching a decent amount of KDramas(Korean drama) along with my new interest in KPop(Korean pop). Let me break down how my decision fostered in my mind.
For a while now, I’ve wanted to learn an Asian language but I wasn’t sure which one would be a good fit for me. Like I said, I’m a procrastinator and really bad at studying. It wasn’t until about a month ago that I stumbled across this Black YouTuber by the name of Raki Wright. I gravitated towards her content because of her knowledge of Korean culture. She started to learn Korean due to her interest in KDramas and KPop. Raki opened up multiple times on her channel about how learning the language resulted in mulitple opportunities for her. She became fluent in a span of five months. That skill took her to South Korea for an extended period of time, she came back to the US but now she lives there full time in pursuit of her music. Her music is another thing that’s been affected. Purely by having musical connections prior to her trip, she met multiple famous rappers. One of them was Jay Park, a Korean-American wrapper. Even if you’ve never heard of him, he’s a big deal in the Korean rap scene. My point stands that homegirl’s life has gone only upward since her endeavor. Now I want to talk about how my life has changed since setting out to learn Hangul.
I’ve gained respect for the Korean culture. Before learning the alphabet I didn’t know the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or any Asian characters even by a glance. I’ve noticed it on more than a few objects since I was able to recognize it. With that minute skill alone, I feel that much more cultured. Not everyone and their mom know a foreign language, especially one like Korean.
I’ve only in the past few years gotten out of my picky eater habit. My motivation to immerse myself in more Korean culture lead me to buy a whole basket of Asian and Korean specific items when I simply set out for some fruity pebbles and almond milk(I’m not kidding). I picked up this really yummy aloe vera juice (Viloe brand), which is fifty ounces for a little over two bucks. Because influence spreads, I passed it onto my older sister and granny. If they stick with it, then maybe they’ll pass it along to someone else. I have to point out that my granny is an extremely judgemental eater, mostly due to her health issues. Yall, I influenced her to buy a bottle of that aloe vera juice! That’s huge to me. I’ve also started eating authentic ramen(Shin Ramyun brand). I’ve opened myself up to a cuisine I wouldn’t have otherwise had at restaurants in my own hometown. I’ve even bought Asian cultery, real chopsticks and that big spoon for rice.
My music choices have expanded. When most people hear pop they think of Britney Spears and the like. When you hear boy band you think The Jonas Brothers or One Direction, maybe even NSync/Backstreet Boys if you’re cUlTuReD. Being introduced to Kpop wasn’t something I was into. My misconception of it as a whole was that it was going to be bubblegum dance music. BLACKPINK, a Korean girl group, was the first Kpop I listened to and enjoyed. Even after having witnessed these badass girls perform and sell their truth as idols I didn’t want to get invested in any boy groups. Without having listened to Kpop until recently, I’d heard of a few groups like EXO, ASTRO, and BTS. Like many others that judged it before they gave it a chance, I thought they’d be the bubblegum dance group I had in my mind.
Boy, was I wrong. Only one music video in and I was hooked from their precise choreography, swag, delivery, and cinematic expertise. And hey, they’re not bad to look at either. There are plenty of idol groups in the Kpop music industry because it’s embedded into their culture so there’s a lot to listen to for you to decide if it’s for you. I’ll link the videos I watched that got me into Kpop proudly/made me ARMY(you’ll only get this if you decide to get into BTS) at the end. As a result of opening up my mind to their music, I wanted to see others reactions to them. There are loads of reaction videos and analysis on Kpop/BTS. They’re just so likable because you can see that they put in a lot of effort not only to their singing or rapping portions but the dance moves.
That leads me into my next benefit. I decided I wanted to be a dancer. Or to try to dance for fun. Let it be known that I’m pretty bad at dancing. I’ve never been one to go get up on the dance floor and shake my groove thang, not without alcohol in my system anyway. That stemmed from my lifelong insecurities about my body and presence, I didn’t want a whole room of people watching me. So much so that when I traveled to Ghana in high school I stiffly sat in my seat while the others on the trip with me participated in a ceremonial dance. I’ll say that again for the people in the back, I was so uncomfortable with myself that I refused a traditional dance in a country I’ll probably never revisit. To recap again, I was hella rude because I was embarrassed and insecure.
Fast forward about five or so years later and I’m still no dance monster, but I’m not uncomfortable now. Not like I used to be. I spent about four and a half hours practicing BTS dance tutorials from their music videos. I’ll also link those at the end. My point is that I had fun. Fun is something my life has seriously been lacking. I danced because I wanted to challenge myself. I danced because I wanted to let loose and be goofy. I danced because I wanted to make my body feel good.
I can confidently say after my first session that I have that much more respect for BTS and idol groups alike because Lord knows they have to spend days to weeks in their practice rooms until their feet bleed to perfect those extremely precise moves. With that little taste of fun, I decided that when I move to Phoenix, Arizona next year that I’ll take up dance classes at a hip hip studio. Not because I want to be a dancer but because I want to continue to have fun, to meet people with the same young spirited passion. This may not seem like a great feat, but I was used to being someone that wished for an exciting and eventful life. I was that person that continuously wanted without ever trying to get it. Maybe I would’ve reached that moonwalking path on my own, but I highly doubt it.
Lastly, I want to take a trip to South Korea. After only a couple of lessons into my Hangul workbook (and many episodes of KDramas) I decided I’d take a trip to Seoul at some point. I just want the experience. Like I said before, I was a wisher person. Never a doer. I’ve looked at probably hundreds of travel blogger accounts in my free time and never put myself in the position of being one of those people. Let me just tell you, if you have this mindset then you need to shake it out of you with the quickness. There’s no greater way to limit yourself than to continuously tell your mind that you aren’t capable. Think about how different your life could be when you don’t put a glass ceiling on yourself.
To wrap up this particularly long ramble, I hope you expose yourself to another culture somehow. Something as small as learning a language can drive you to something as seemingly small as music. Learning Hangul has forever changed my life, I never thought I’d have these ambitions. Music can transcend culture, race, language. Why not pick something so universal? I don’t have to know what BTS is saying to feel good when I listen to it or for it to have an impact on me. Kpop doesn’t have to be your go-to choice. As long as you take a leap to inquire about something unknown. You never know the effect it could have on your life.
Links as promised in order that I got interested in BTS. Sidenote: Before I listened to their music I watched the introductory video on the members and that’s actually what made me fall in love with their talent, humor, hustle, and all the other great qualities they have. Plus their funny af, there are a ton of crack vids on them.
Eat a donut and live your life, sweets
Pro Tip: Foreign isn’t a bad concept. So often in the news/media it’s portrayed as this other or unknown person or place, or thing. We’re taught to fear the concept of what is foreign. Break that mold.
bts moments that toast my buns (the coolio bit was enough to make me love them alone)
Let me know in the comment section if you’re ARMY and when you joined? Who’s your bias? Mine is Suga, then Jungkook, but I love all of them. Thanks for reading my ramble.