Why would you need to learn Korean language to have a Korean boyfriend? Well, according to a 2003 study, despite spending the most money on English education, Koreans score the lowest on English ability out of the 12 Asian nations that the research looked at. I’ve also come across claims that Korean guy you date will put pressure on you to learn Korean language.
Language barrier and cultural differences are supposed to be the most difficult part of dating a person from another country. In our case cultural differences don’t even compare to language barrier. Actually, we still have no idea what these “cultural differences” are even supposed to be. Sure, I chuck food all over the table (and floor) when I try to eat with chopsticks and he has the dexterity of a 2-year-old when cutting a piece of meat on his plate, but that doesn’t create problems in our relationship. If anything, it makes it even more fun.
To be honest, even the language barrier can be fun sometimes. I still chuckle thinking back to one of our first conversations, when we were still strangers trying to be as polite as possible, and Kimchi Man asked me: “Am I making you hard?” It took me only a moment to realize he meant “Am I making it difficult for you?” but I still laughed. Luckily he was a good sport about it. I make those kind of mistakes as well, but I just can’t remember any right now (Selective memory? :)) But you don’t need me to tell you, I’m sure while reading this you’ll spot quite a few mistakes yourself.
That’s all very cute, but a truly deep relationship needs truly deep conversations.
His native language is Korean. He speaks English well enough for me to understand him, better than most Koreans I’m sure, but he still feels the most comfortable using Korean. The speed and ease with which he talks to other Koreans can’t really compare to when he’s talking to me. I’m not a native English speaker either and it’s the same for me.
English being second language for both of us makes it at the same time easier and more difficult to communicate. If at least one of us was speaking our native language, it would eliminate half of the mistakes we make. On the other hand we are much more flexible in understanding what the other one is saying because we know what a struggle it is.
Should I learn Korean?
I don’t speak Korean and I’m really happy in our relationship. Despite all what I’ve said above, we do have deep conversations, it just takes a bit more effort. So far, in over two years, we’ve never gotten frustrated or impatient with each other.
So it all depends how well you and your guy speak English (or another common language).
If you’re going to live in Korea then yes, without a doubt, you should learn Korean. And make sure you start by learning Hangul.
If you’re not going to live in Korea then it’s up to you. Being able to talk to his family, watch movies and dramas, and understand everything I come across online – from news videos to shopping sites – is really exciting prospect for me. If you feel the same way, then, by all means, go for it. But if you don’t feel enthusiastic you have little chances of succeeding.
Will my boyfriend expect me to learn Korean?
He might, but Kimchi Man doesn’t care if I learn Korean language or not. I decided by myself to learn it, because I’m planning to move to Korea someday, and because I’m excited about the possibility of talking directly to those Koreans that now I need Kimchi Man’s help to translate. When I tell him this, he says: “Forget about it and tell them to learn English.” Haha, poor Koreans with my Kimchi Man.
Will my boyfriend help me learn Korean?
I came across another blog that shared tips about dating Korean men and it mentioned Korean guy will not be your tutor and he will expect you to study hard and learn Korean on your own. I couldn’t disagree with this more. That may be her experience with her boyfriend, but certainly not every Korean guy is like that.
Just because Kimchi Man doesn’t have a wish for me to learn Korean, doesn’t mean he’s not supportive or that he doesn’t want to help me learn Korean. He knows it’s my wish. A beautiful textbook for learning Korean arrived with the first package he ever sent me, and as soon as I mentioned that I was curious about a particular grammar book he bought it for me as well. He also surprised me with adorable workbook for practicing Hangul handwriting because he knows how frustrated I am with my horrible Korean handwriting. I also got pens for Hangul calligraphy (that I still have no idea how to use, help!).
Kimchi Man is always ready to patiently answer my, mostly silly, questions. So far I have made him record himself pronouncing Korean alphabet, his own name, places where he has lived, explain every little Korean pronunciation rule, find reading materials… He even wrote a program that automatically pulls translations from multiple online dictionaries so I wouldn’t have to copy-paste!
With my own wish to learn and his support, I’m really looking forward to mastering the language and seeing how learning Korean might change our interactions. I will surely share it with you all. Unfortunately, due to some neurological issues, I am a really slow learner. In two years I’ve learned maybe hundred words so far, so don’t hold your breath.
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