Friday, October 2, 2009

Every Time.

Every few weeks or so we make a trip to our local Korean Market. It's actually called "Korean Market"!

Anyway, every time we go, I have kids in tow and usually get a few questions or stares mostly directed at my red headed son!

And every time we go, we find new things to explore and make.

And every time, my son tries a different kind of Korean candy.

And every time, there is a sweet little lady out front who hands us a brochure of the local Korean church service.

And every time, I walk by the Cuckoo Rice Makers and wish they weren't $300 so I could buy one.

And every time, I place my items on the counter and the cashier proceeds to speak to me in Korean and every time, I have to remind her that "I only speak English".

And every time, I obsess the whole way home about not speaking Korean.

It bothers me more now than it ever did that I do not speak Korean. When we decided to adopt, I was on a mission to learn and my goal was to be able to speak in sentences to our babies' foster mother. Well, time and money held up that goal and here we are, five months home and every time I leave that dang Korean market, I leave feeling disappointed.

The truth is, I wish that when the cashier asked me in Korean if what I had was green onions or leeks (yes, they were that similar in size, I think the produce there is on steroids!), I would be able to just switch on my Korean and tell her that yes, in fact, they are green onions.

The assumption has always been there...when I worked at the bank, Korean customers would wait in my line and then proceed to speak to me in Korean. When my husband was playing ball, he had teammates tell him that they were surprised I didn't have an accent. While on my way to Korea, not one flight attendant spoke to me in English. When I arrived at the airport, the van driver also started his introduction in Korean. When I arrived at the Holt Guesthouse, the doorman immediately spoke 3-4 sentences before I had to stop him. While shopping in the fabulous markets in Korea, I would hesitate to say hello in Korean for fear that then they would assume I spoke it. When either Rai's foster mother ( or Zoey's foster mother spoke, they would look directly at me rather than the interpretor. And I would just sit and wait for the translation or just guess at the topic on hand.

Around our house, we use a few Korean words. I always say both the Korean and English word for Thank You, no, goodbye and hello, just to name a few. When Zoey hears her Korean lullabies, she perks up and her dancing has a little more step in it!

So what do I wish would come from this?

I certainly do not wish to throw my self a pity party. I am proud to be adopted, Korean, and an American citizen and now an adoptive parent.

I just wish that one day, I will be able to walk up to that counter at the Korean Market and when she asks me if I have green onions or leeks, I tell her in fluent Korean that they are green onions and I need them for the delicious Chapjae that awaits me at home!! And I wish that both of my children will feel the blend of two cultures in their lives. I wish that when we return to Korea some day in the future that I will be able to thank her foster families without an interpretor. I wish that when asked if I speak Korean, I can say, "Yes, I do!" And I wish that if either of my children, especially Zoey, want that too, they will get the opportunity to learn.

Sure, I have the $50 version of "Korean for Beginners" sitting in my desk drawer that I have pulled out on occasion. But it's confusing, moves too fast and isn't comprehensive. So my mission is to forgo all other Christmas and birthday (which is two weeks after Christmas, so the gifts are usually lame anyway!) gifts and save up for Rosetta Stone Korean. And if all goes well, then six months after that, I will walk into that Korean Market and give you the full report of what went down!!

And leave it to my four year old to put a smile on face as we stood in a crowded line to checkout by yelling, "Man, mommy, there sure is a lot of Korean people in here!"


  1. I totally know how you feel. Our library had a decent Korean tutorial that was meant to just be listened to (no books involved) that taught me some stuff before we left. We have the Barron's system and numerous phrase books and even flash cards. I even did Korean school when I was in 4th and 5th grade. I desperately wanted to be able to comfort Ty when he was crying uncontrollably at our hotel and I knew he would know Korean. I've had so very similar experiences in Korea and Korean markets. Patrick and I drool over Rosetta Stone every holiday and then opt out. Maybe I should have taken Korean when I was in college and had the chance. Maybe one day...when all the kids are in school. I can't wait to see how it works!
    (sorry for the ramble).

  2. **Hugs** I can't imagine you how feel, but I know the frustration in trying to learn a language as an adult. We are getting Rosetta Stone Korean for Christmas, and I really do hope it works. We're going to hook up the laptop to the TV and see if Rai and I can make it into a game. *Fingers crossed* My goal is to work on both Rosetta Stone Korean and Japanese (so that I can finally speak in the Japanese grocery store). We'll have to practice Korean sometime! maybe Aaron can help us...