Probably the most frustrating things about learning Korean (한국어) has been overcoming the issues created by all the rules governing romaizing the language. For example, I live in 경기도, which over the years has been romanized as Kyunggido, Kyeongkido, Kyunkkido, and the current standard Gyeonggido. Things doing get any easier, when the government changes things on the fly either, as they did last year with the 김밥.
Since I’ve been in Korea, I’ve always called it a kimbap, but now it is a gimbap. This is despite the 김 in KIMchi is spelled with a K and the 김 in GIMbap being spelled with a G – even though they are the same letters.
I’ve discussed over the years how frustrating it can be for travelers in Korea to try and navigate the streets of Korea because of all the changing romanization on signs. It’s the prime reason that I think those living in South Korea, even if only for a year, should learn to read Hanguel (한글). It makes a huge difference when trying to ask for directions and get help, since you’re not reliant on the the romanized language. Hell, look at the nation’s premiere film festival that finally changed its name to reflect current romanization rules.
In the above video, I try to give an explanation to James (ElevenColors) about how the ㄱ is pronounced in Korean. As I said in the video, I’ve learned that it is technically a cross between a G and a K – not quite fully one or the other. However, based on different conversations I’ve had with my naturally born Korean friends, from time to time they will pronounce words with a hard K or a hard G. This isn’t standard across all my Korean friends, making it a little frustrating for a learner of the language.
If you’re learning Korea, what’s the most difficult or frustrating thing you’ve come across?