(*Disclaimer!* I can not speak Korean! In fact, I only know a few words and some small phrases. I used Google Translate to figure out the sentences, and I know they are probably wrong. But I have no other way to figure out what I want to say in Korean. If you know an app or website that can, please tell me! Thank you.)
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“This smells amazing,” I smile as I dip my spoon into the steaming bowl of soup.
“I bet it tastes just as good,” Emily lightly blows on her bowl of soup.
“Well, it’s the first soup remember making,” Nari smiles and takes a sip of her tea. “So, it’s the one I’m the best at making. And it’s not too weird tasting for your American tongues, so you’ll be able to hand it. And hopefully enjoy it.
“Thanks for giving us water and not tea, though,” I pick up my glass of water and bring it to my lips. “Maybe in a couple of weeks we can branch out to it.”
Nari chuckles, “Well, before we start eating and begin our first dinner and then Korean language lesson, I’ve got a small question.”
“And what is it?” Emily inquires.
“Were you two listening to Girls’ Generation before coming out here?”
“Um, yeah. Are they not Korean or something? We weren’t playing too loud were we?”
“Oh no, they are K-pop, don’t worry,” Nari giggles. “And the volume was fine, never worry about that. Unless I yell at you or something. I just found it cute you’d take time to look up a Korean group. Do you like them?”
“They’re awesome,” Emily and I say in unison.
Nari giggles again, “K-pop is, in my opinion, some of the best music out there. No matter what negative people say about it. You two should continue looking up groups.”
“I’m sure we will. I think a boy group is what we will be looking up next.” I take a spoonful of my soup. “Right now though, I think we should chow down on this tasty soup.”
We spend the next thirty minutes getting our fill of Tteokguk, or rice cake soup. Emily and I even try some of Nari’s tea, but go straight to chugging our waters afterwards as Nari broke into laughter.
Since Nari didn’t have time to make any dessert, we just had some chocolate from her favorite local store. It was so sweet and it took all my willpower not to eat my body weight of it.
“How do you say Hello?” I ask when Nari returns to the living room after leaving to take our dirty cups to the kitchen.
“Annyeonghaseyo,” Nari says without even a bat of her eyelids and takes a seat on the sofa.
“All that for hello?” Emily questions.
“It’s not that bad,” I nibble on my bottom lip as I mull the word over for a few seconds. “Annyeonghaze-”
“No, hase, not a z, an s,” Nari quickly corrects me.
“Oh, um, annyeonghaseyo. Like that?”
“Yes, very good. Emily, give it a try.”
“Anyeonghaseyo?” Emily runs a hand through her hair.
“Annyeonghaseyo, so almost.”
“Well, we can move on, I’ll get it.”
“Well, what do you want to know next?”
“What is your name? My name is Amber. How old are you? I am fifteen.”
“Dangsin-ui ileum-eun mueso-ibnikka? Nae ileum-eun Amber or Emily. Neo myeochsal ini? Naega yeol daseos sal.”
“That’s a lot to take in,” Emily takes a deep breath. “How would we respectively call you, if like, in public or something?”
“Unnie is what you call me. Males would call me noona, if I say it’s all right. I don’t really like being called it, to be honest. You call older males oppa if they say you can. And males call older males hyung. Does that make sense?”
“What do people call us?” I ask.
“Does that just mean young one?” “Pretty much. You girls won’t get as much, how do I want to put this? Respect? I think that’s the word. What I’m trying to say is you don’t get all these different names if it’s a girl or boy calling you. It’s not that important, I guess. Younger people aren’t looked down on, or anything.”
“It’s just the way it goes. We are at the bottom of the totem pole, I get it.”
“Good,” Nari sighs. “I was just going to keep rambling if you didn’t stop me.”
“What would our boyfriends call us?” Emily asks.
Nari chuckles, “Most likely jagiya or your name with an -ah sound at the end. You’d call your boyfriend oppa or chagiya.”
“But oppa is what we call older males,” I mess with the hem of my shirt. “What does oppa mean?”
“Well, oppa means big brother. So think of it like girls in America calling their boyfriends daddy.”
“Oppa seems better, in a strange way,” Emily cringes.
“I agree, but it’s still a big weird. Oppa also means older male, so you can always think of it that way. If you happen to get a Korean boyfriend that wants you to call them oppa.”
“I feel the need to write all of this down,” I stand up. “I’m gonna go get a notebook and a pencil. Then Nari, you’re going to have to say everything you just said again.”
Nari laughs, “That’s completely okay. I want you guys to really learn the Korean language. So by all means, do all you can to be sure you can remember all this information.”
“Good thing we bought some new notebooks,” Emily stands up as well.
“Well hurry and go get them,” Nari waves us away. “This lesson is not over yet.”
Not quite a thousand words, but so close. Anyways, hope you liked it! More coming soon!