Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Taking Stock

Well, one of my goals with this blog is to document my efforts to learn about Korea. What do I have to start with?

From where I sit at my computer, I can see four different Korean language textbooks. I also see a guide to Hanja (Chinese characters which Koreans use for special situations and are the roots for most Korean words) and two children's guides to about 100 simple hanja. Online, there is a great site that teaches Korean. Sogang university offers courses online and I think you can use the results for advancement in brick-and-mortar courses they offer. (and I learned how to link. Woo-hoo!) Bensmatrix appears to be a good place to start learning hanja.

Oh, for any others interested in learning hanja; be careful which country you need it for. My understanding is the Chinese government found traditional hanja to be too difficult to teach to a large audience so they now use simplified characters. Korea has it's own alphabet but also uses traditional hanja for job titles, proper names and the like.

Anyway, it's clear that I don't need to buy any products here. I guess I need to take mental stock to see if I have the dedication to see language study through.

I have a fair understanding of Korean history. Due to an interest in martial arts, I've read about local wars and local heroes, notably Lee Soon-shin (Koreans hate it when you call him 'Sun-shine'!). I've visited perhaps a hundred temples until I finally have temple fatigue.

One thing I know little about is recent Korean history. I've lived here for three presidents (김영삼, 김대중 and 노무현) but I don't know anything about Korean politics. It's time to reread more of the Marmot and other politically focused blogs.

Finally, and perhaps speaking more to my own interests, I want to learn more about Korean wildlife - there are squirrels and rats and magpies and ... I have hiked up a few mountains here; Hallasan, Chirisan, Soraksan, Bukhansan, Gwanaksan and others. I would especially like to climb one mountain that seems to have travel agencies in every city. I need to learn more about 'Budongsan'.

Well, time to stop writing about it and start doing it. More later.

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