Monday, May 17, 2010


I probably sent many of you running to the hills with this title.  K-pop, like it's dreaded cousin J-pop, is all about the sugar coated, bubble gum, recycled lyrics that is the hallmark of pop music.  It's like they took the sugary sweet lyrics of American pop music, refined it, added artificial sweetener and served it on a bed of cotton candy.  Originally I started listening to it so I could find out what the kids listened to and why they reacted so weird when  I said certain words in English.  See, in K-pop and well...a lot of popular asian music in general, to spice up the song they add one or two words of English.  Not too much to offend people's ears but enough to sound exotic. The thing is, the people listening to it may not have any idea what the words mean, especially the children.  This leads to some strange occurrences, like one of my 6 year olds singing "Puppy puppy puppy puppy" for half an hour straight.  Another time, when kids in class were tired of class and started complaining, I'd tell them "I don't care" and then they would respond with a rousing chorus of 2ne1's hit song "I don't care, yeah yeah yeah".

Hearing this at the drop of a hat was a little annoying but funny nonetheless.

As far as groups to listen to, there's a wide variety.  There's the mega groups like Super Junior and Sonya Shidae (Girl's generation) where they give the better looking people more screen and song time.  Of course Korean girls will know every guy in the group, their blood type, and what their favorite food is.  I personally like Super Junior despite the fact they ruined the word "sorry" for the kids with their hit song "Sorry Sorry".  I also enjoy T-ara, Brown Eyed Girls, and Shinee (having your group's name in English is also fashionable).  

The thing is, for learning Korean, nothing beats it.  I've taken to studying Korean more seriously where before it took a back seat to Go.  I enrolled in a class for awhile but it's expensive and even though it was helping I get a lot of reinforcement from well...everyone around me.  I plan on going back maybe next month but in the meantime I'm studying on my own. The thing is, I don't learn from traditional books as well, I learn on my feet.   I learn by listening to people speak and using context and logic to figure out what words mean what.  So far I'm pretty conversational and I can talk to the kids when I need to communicate with them so I know they understand me.  I wanna move to the next level, and so far K-pop is doing it.  Now this may seem odd or exaggerated, I mean after all you'd think you'd need a book right?  Well, like I said before, the book is good but it only gets me 20% of the way.  Like for instance, I learned how to speak German mainly from watching anime dubbed in German and then using the book to teach me some grammar.  The book just introduced vocab and grammar, the show reinforced and added to what I knew.

All in all it's great fun.  It's nice to be able to sing with the kids.  Korean kids have no compunctions about singing and do so at the drop of a hat.  Of course when I sing in Korean it melts their little minds because they're trained to think that non-Koreans don't speak Korean at all.  That's a cultural thing I believe I'll never really understand, but hey, I don't really have to.  By the way, if you're wondering how any child could sing puppy for 30 minutes (I'm not kidding you), then I dare you to watch this.  Don't do so for too long though; try to keep your sanity. Sure, they aren't technically saying puppy but it sounds like it.