How do you learn your korean? For me I memorize rap. Haha. I’m the kind of person who can’t let my mind go blank because I associate thinking about nothing kind of degenerative, so I have this nervous habit of memorize chunks of stuff to recite back when I’m bored/nervous and just want to engage my mind in something to calm myself down.
Why & How did I begin?
I didn’t start off with rap immediately. In fact, I memorized drama lines. Which turned into a 5 min soliloquy. For example, for some reason, I just committed to memorizing this for instance:
Then it came chunks of japanese lines from anime and dramas.. (from my Olddddd blog).
I realize I just am fascinated with foreign sounds and I like mimicking them, swirling the sounds back and forth like my own exclusive wine tasting, except with sounds. Even for Korean, what’s more important than actually learning it was that I was such a stickler for pronunciation. So fun when you sound like a native when you’re faking it! So I guess progressing to lyrics was naturally inevitable. However, I liked challenges, so instead of the simple ballads, I opted for rap.
Where to begin?
I began the obsession with Kpop (mostly Beast’s material). Embarrassed to say, but their raps are usually one small portion, easy enough to pick up. From being most excited about the melody in the past, I became more excited about the raps. Then I moved to actual hip hop music. That’s where it actually got really tough. One thing I like about raps was that the content is definitely much more difficult than most mainstream songs. You could very well get stuff like politics, dissent towards the economy, hardships, instead of your usual ‘oh you break my heart and I’m so sad and you’re gone what am I gonna do woe is me this is terrible let me sing to you so maybe you’ll come back boohoo’ 😛
But in all honesty, the benefits are plenty:
- you have to practice again and again and again and again and again x200, so might as well be drilling tougher words into your vocab right?
- If it’s your favorite song, what funner way to enjoy than to repeat it many times?
- You’ll actually find out what it means yourself. No need to rely on translations. Hardcore. (Okay maybe initially, you still need to rely on them)
- The vocabs you learn will be 훨씬 difficult than regular kpop! (For example, Zico taught me 약육강식의법칙 (law of the jungle)
- You’ll be reading a lot of hangeul, which will familiarize your eyes with
speed faster reading of hangul, and thus making wall of text less intimidating.
- You no longer have to deal with poser fake HANGOOLS
‘geurimja cheoreom hangsang hamkkaeyeottdeon ‘ <– isn’t this just UGLY?
그림자처럼 항상 함께였던 = PRETTY;
Areumdaun ni misoga bichudeon = UGLY,
아름다운 네 미소가 날 비추던 = PRETTY
- In a strange way, it will build your confidence & help pronunciation with similar sounding words
- It will help you with your sense of rhythm.
- Appreciate your Oppars and Unnirs for memorizing this lyrics too
- You can be the kid who doesn’t just sing the chorus and go silent when the rap portion comes on.
How can you do it too?
Start small. Obviously, if you’re still struggling with even recognizing hangul, then learn hangul first, and some standard grammar and vocabs. When you can slowly grasp and identify pretty quickly how to read each letter, then you’re ready to begin!
Find the lyrics to your fav song. It’s often readily, easily, available, unless you have eccentric taste in music that’s so sidestream and obscure..
You don’t have to start off with hardcore music. You can pick something relaxing too:
then find the lyrics. preferably one with hangul and translation (it’s a preview of ‘HERE’S WHAT I’LL BE LEARNING! :D), none of that romanized shit. One tip is to search the keywords of whatever song you want + 가사. 90% of the time it will yield korean lyrics.
CHORUS (original from here)
그렇게 살고있겠죠 시간이 흐른뒤엔
I will be living like that after time passes
또 다른 사람 만나 사랑한다 말하고
I’ll meet someone else and say I love you
하지 못한 말들과 내 아쉬움 (regret) 들은 날려보내고(let fly, set free)
I’ll cast away the words I couldn’t say and my sadness
Then you may choose to print it, so you can look at it any time, write your own romanization (but try not to!) and markers like where to breathe, stop, which part is faster etc. But try to identify the words inside, so you can see how the individual words get translated into the final lyrics/ which words differed in the final translation.
This is the skeleton of how I do it, just keep upping the difficulty. The following is a guide of how I suggest you carry out this activity:
1 – OMG IT’S TOO FAST
The end goal is for you to be able to recite it back with the song, and understand what the heck you are singing. As for repetition, it helps with pronunciation. For rap music, it can be very fast. At such times, it will be best to slow the music down. I use winamp, so I use an addon called the Pacemaker for times when it is simply too fast to hear what he or she is saying. Slow the music down by changing the tempo.
2 – OMG I CAN’T REMEMBER
It’s okay! Small victories. If you come to a part where you just simply cannot remember, practise until you can look at it and follow with the music at least. If not, it’s okay, keep trying. One thing I found helps is to practice before bed. The next day, it will somehow be easier.
3 – I NO GET THIS PART THE MUSIC IS TOO COMPLICATED
Listen to the rhythm first, without caring about the words. After you roughly get the idea of how each beat is gonna go, then slowly start filling it in with the words, then try it out again. Practise practise practise!
4 – THIS SHIT IS TAKING WAY TOO LONG
Yes it does. It took me months to memorize Zico’s ‘Battle Royal’ because it was so damn fast, and because i refused to cave in to romanization. Took me coupla months to learn Zico’s ‘Attention’ too. and ‘Dead President’ and Epik High’s ‘Noise’. San E’s ‘Wish you to be unhappy’ was much easier cos it’s romance, but Zico’s stuff are never romantic haha. Basically, understand that these are like projects. Small victories at a time, small victories. When you’re done, it’s so satisfying to rap along with them.
5 – I CAN’T READ SO MUCH HANGUL AT ONCE.
Practice makes perfect, friend. You have to introduce your eyes to korean. Make it seem friendly. Wall of text seems intimidating, but if you do it in small bits, it’s easier. Trust me.
6 – I’M TONE DEAF
Hey, rapping is like speaking fast but with style (k more than that, but you aren’t holding concerts). If you sound terrible, just don’t do it in front of other people. Think of it as practice!
7 – I DON’T SOUND LIKE A RAPPER
Woah, I didn’t promise I’ll turn you into an amazing rapper, I’m introducing a new method of korean language training. Some people just don’t have amazing voices, no matter how much we practice. I don’t have a great rap/singing voice either, but I still love music!
8 – I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE THIS WORD.
You can try google translate. Just put source language as korean, click the speaker to listen to it.
9 – I HAVE NO SENSE OF RHYTHM.
Then I cannot help you. 😦 Maybe you can try practising with reading articles or books instead.
Then maybe finally, you can be dope and do something like this:
Zico live – Battle Royal
Zico Original – Battle Royal