Learning Korean

19 Feb

Learning Korean proved to be difficult. This was because in addition to there being limited programs on learning Korean in the United States, I had mental blocks to overcome. There were times that I would speak Korean and what would come out was the my five year old inner child’s Korean. The one she spoke with Appa, which is a regional dialect of Korea.

There would be really tough times for me because sometimes I’d feel like I should *know* that word, or that I remembered it, but I couldn’t place why. There were times, too, when people would say,
“Your accent is really good.”
“You are slipping into Kyeongsamnamdomal, Eonni…. I couldn’t understand you.”
“You speak like child. No ‘Un.’ That is child [speak].”
and while I’d feel a sense of pride, I’d feel a sense of frustration too, because I couldn’t distinguish where the child’s language began and where the child’s language ended.

What often made it worse is that people expected me to know Korean. I had to be able to speak Korean even if they didn’t know it. The pressure to know Korean makes my brain cycle at times and sometimes, for months I’ll reject the language. Especially when people say, “You aren’t X” or “you are X”. My languages tend to flucuate heavily on identity.

It’s not the physical learning of the language that is hard. I’m still pretty good at agglutinating languages. (like Korean.) It’s the emotional baggage of learning Korean that makes it difficult. It’s the things I’m associating with the language that I’m not associating with Japanese, Mandarin or Cantonese. From the time of pain I felt from abandonment to the teacher’s delight that I’m a Korean Adoptee. There is excess crap that comes with the language of my mother versus the language of my fluency.

I do wonder what happens when those two are linked. Would that feel the same inside for me? Or would I end up in long silences of not wanting to speak at all? But I don’t think I’d ever know.

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Posted in Adoption Politics, Adoptism, Korean Language


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