I don't usually write much on here but I'd like to share something today.

I'm in the midst of wrapping up a full year of living in Korea and I must say that I've learned far more than I expected. Using the language daily at work and home has really helped more than I can put into words. Of course, like all things, motivation is the key. It's surely possible to live in Korea and speak no more than a few phrases due to the sharp increase of English services that were totally unthinkably 40 years ago. However, for those who do work hard and try to immerse themselves in Korean language environments, there's plenty of chances out here. One of those includes reading material.

In these last few weeks before going back to the states, I had everything all packed up and sent ahead of me in order to travel light. In my haste, I sent most of my unread history books and all of my language study books. Serendipitously forced to find other means of language practice, I turned to my school's library. I've been checking out children's books and reading them out-loud before hitting the hay. I must have checked out over 20 or so in the last two months. I must say that it's humbling to not be able to fluidly read out-loud a children's book. Through this total lack of pride and self-respect, my wife tries to hold back her giggles as I struggle to read out such Korean children's literary classics. It really puts it into perspective, this whole "well-rounded" thing I'm shooting for.

I decided to move on, close my mouth and silently read a bit. Problem is I could've find anything in an elementary school library worthy of more than a five minute attention span. As luck would have it, there's a local 만화방 a stone's throw from my apartment. After a ten dollar refundable deposit, each book can be borrowed for about 30 cents a day. Not a bad way to spend some loose pocket change.

At first, I struggled to find something something I could relate to. I picked up a Japanese-made Korean-translated story of two high school kids caught in a time wrap that sent them to Three Kingdom period China. Sounds okay but the vocabulary was a bit over my head. After two books about fighting (짱, 타나토스) I learned more than a dozen different ways to swear but was still a bit frustrated by the occasional too high a level of vocabulary. I then swallowed whatever pride left and scooted over to the romance section (순정만화) and picked out some books that were most likely designed to be read by a female junior high school student. Be it as it may, the ones I picked up were really quite fun to read. The best out of the bunch was 바보.

The author first wrote 순정만화 which might also be known by its misleading English movie title "Hello Schoolgirl" though the book isn't as polished as 바보. I watched the film a while back and liked it. His next book's art direction and story was much more developed, though. 바보 really is a great read with lots to follow. Above all, it's got lovable characters. If one is looking to start reading in Korean without it feeling like homework, I suggest to start at 바보. Check it out online to see if it looks like something you might like.

Those thinking they might have heard of this book before are thinking of the movie adaption which for whatever reason in English is called "The Miracle of the Giving Fool". While not nearly as entertaining as the book itself, the movie isn't half-bad. I suggest reading the book first then watching the film second.

Any other helpful reading tips to share?

UPDATE: The comments in this AAK post also has some links worth reading including this blog called the Manhwa Bookshelf.

5 Responses to “만화”

아만다 said...

I have also had a hard time finding books at my level that were interesting. I finally picked up a bunch of the small manwha versions of stories I already know in English. The manwha helped because there was a lot of picture support.

I also picked up books I enjoyed reading in English as a kid. So I have THE SECRET GARDEN, all of the LITTLE HOUSE books, CHARLOTTE'S WEB, the three PIPPI books, etc. Sure, I'm reading translations, but at least I KNEW I would enjoy the books.

Also, while I remember some of the story, a lot of these books I only read once, 20 years ago, so I still really have to depend on my reading skills.

I found that collecting a wide range of books (I came home from our winter trip with books spanning grades 2 through junior high) helped. I can usually find something interesting to read at whatever level I'm in the mood for (easy reading, a bit of a struggle, or really concentrated reading).

I am an elementary school teacher, so I often read out loud to my students or read YA novels with them in guided reading. So I don't mind reading "children's" books. I find that in better children's books (I'm basically excluding Captain Underpants and the like here), there are still adult themes of love, fairness, honor, etc.

I really don't want to read those WIMPY KIDS books, but maybe I should read them in Korean since my students really do like them.

I have read one Korean adult novel (몸) which was tough, but I got the majority of it, and I hated it so much I threw it across the room. (I won't go into it here--details on are my blog.)

OK, sorry, that was an exceedingly long response. But I'm working on a 1,000,000 syllable project this year, so I have a lot of opinions about reading!

Han Myoung Hee said...

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안녕하세요 ^^

저는 한국 사람입니다. my name is myoung hee .

여기 온 이유는 심심해서 입니다.
그래서 친구를 만들기로 했죠

전 사이트를 만들었지만 아무도 안와요...

블러그도 있어요

하지만 아무도 안오죠 ...

그래서 여기 저기 말을 걸어 보기로 했어요....

전 단지... 친구를 원해요...

이야기나 ... 재미나.. 질문 문화 나..

모 그러거요...

한국어 공부 열시미 하세요 ^^


i want to learn english conversation

my job is programmer ....



Unknown said...

I have the same problem, the difference is I am not living in Korea. Thanks for the post and the suggestions though, I will read the suggested manhwa. Also, does anyone know where I can get manhwa in hangul online. I live in Puerto Rico and I'm deep in my korean language learning and it's been so hard trying to find good and simple manhwa to read as well as practice.
Keep practicing!

Matthew Smith said...

@ 40adventures - thanks for the comment. Seems that I'm also living away from Korea for the time being so I'm back to sqaure one as far as being at a loss for Korean print material. Thankfully there's a thriving Korean-American population here so maybe I can find something.

As far as getting 만화 online, I'd do a simple naver search in korean for what you're looking for and chances are someone's posted it on their blog. If not, I might be able to find something. Give me some time and I'll see what I can do.

Previously said...

Check out the webtoons on Naver.com, they update daily and there's a variety of content and difficulty.