I had another Korean language session yesterday. It wasn’t planned but one of my language partners texted me and asked if I had time to meet him after work. This rather spontaneous meeting turned out to be an extremely productive one indeed. I got the chance to explain a lot of practical stuff to him in Korean, like giving directions, opening bank accounts (은행 계좌를 개설하다), and how to get a student discount (학생 할인) when buying train tickets.

We then talked about our families, our backgrounds, and our experiences with the army (him, not me) and work (me).

A lot of interesting vocabulary came up during our conversation. For instance different words for employment, which can be 취직,  취업 and 고용. So how are they different from each other? The first two are not really different, they both mean finding employment or becoming employed. Note that after 취직 you can add 난 (meaning difficulty) to create a word which means “problems finding employment”. 난 is a very useful suffix, which may be added to anything that may cause you trouble like 주차난 (parking problems).

So therefore, if you want to say “I started working at this company after graduating” you may say “졸업하고 이 회사에 취직했어요”. In this way you use the word 취직 providing the subtle nuance of a transition.

So, what about 고용? This basically means employment but more in an official context. Also, this is a more static expression suggesting that someone is already employed somewhere, while the two others indicate that you find employment. Here are a few other job related words that popped up: 노동 시장 Labor market, 구인 Job vacancy, 구직자 Job applicant, and 실업/실직 Unemployment.

What really made this meeting fun was that this was the first time it turned into a real language exchange. Until now we had not spoken one word together in English, so when he told me that he really wished that he could improve his English, I immediately suggested that he speak to me in English and I speak to him in Korean. This bilingual talk turned out to be so much fun, especially because of the lack of honorifics (high language) in English. Usually when he addresses me in Korean he talks to me extremely politely like this: 교수님 이렇게 말해 보세요. But these honorifics were of course dropped when he switched to English, so when I accidentally spoke in English he quickly interrupted me with a firm “Speak Korean!” causing me to laugh out loud at this sudden change in speech pattern.

The best thing of it all was that we made plans to meet twice a week for the entire fall semester. In that way we can have one session for speaking and another one for writing each week. Yay!

Happy Friday everyone!

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