Monday, March 3, 2008

Baby steps

There's a Korean congregation at my new appointment. They are a both a separate congregation and seemingly a separate church, though those distinctions may have yet to be worked out as they have only been at WUMC for a few months. While I made many Korean friends in seminary and learned much from them, I feel relatively bankrupt in terms of cultural knowledge and even Korean theology. As such, I've started asking friends for suggestions about which books to read and am even thinking of taking Korean classes so I can do a better job of relating to the people.

The task of learning Korean seems a bit daunting, but I figure that even if it takes me 10 years to learn it well (meaning being fully bilingual) that I'd still have years to use it. And with the Korean church growing like it is and so many Korean language ministries in our area, it seems worthwhile to make the investment.

I got a couple of book suggestions from friends, unfortunately none of the books are housed at the Hemet library, but I did start finding other books. I'm starting with children's stories and teen fiction while I wait for a memoir. I actually think children's books are a good way to start--you can learn a lot about a culture by studying folk tales and children's imagery. (For instance, disobedient children are called "green frog" from a Korean folktale--now, I don't know how widely that term is used, I need to do investigation, but it's interesting none the less). I also read "When My Name Was Keoko" by Linda Sue Park. It's fiction, but is good. It's a 4th grade level, which is overly evident in the reading, but it's based on facts for the era between 1935-1945 when Japan still occupied Korea. I'm not teeming with Korean trivia now, but I at least have a start at some details and many things I was unaware of before, like that the Koreans had to take Japanese names, and learn Japanese in school, and that barley was the wartime substitute for rice.

It's all about the baby steps! I'll read another children's book tomorrow and check out another book soon, hopefully the memoir, or something equally as interesting!


RevErikaG said...

When I got appointed to my first appointment, there was a Korean congregation....I got an English/Korean travel dictionary to learn a few phrases...showing that I wanted to try, they taught me a lot! It's a beautiful glad for you!

Kathy said...

I'm sort of partial to "The Name Jar" by Yangsook Choi, 'cause she autographed it for Miss O at her big brother's book fair. And it's a cute story.

I've also enjoyed a couple of Korean cookbooks, 'cause many of them not only provide recipes, but give anecdotes and histories as you're going through. I think I liked "Flavours of Korea" and "Cooking from my Mother's Kitchen" or something like that (It may be "Dok Suni: Recipes from my Mother's Kitchen.") But then, you know how much I love food. . . .