Yesterday I met up with Mr. Harry Quek, Principal of Daehan Korean Language Centre and he nearly convinced me to start learning Korean. Maybe I actually will. After I master Mandarin.
One reason for learning Korean is of course Korea’s pop culture, the dramas and K-Pop. That cannot be a reason for me though. My music preferences were shaped in my teens and early twenties, and I don’t think much will change that. I guess it’s the same for most people, you will stick with the music and other pop culture of the time when you were between 15-25 years old. A reason the 60s still loom so large is that they are the baby boom generation’s youth memories.
But Harry came with a totally unexpected reason, namely that Korean writing system is so incredibly efficient. I cannot read or write Korean, but the gist is this. The Latin alphabet (as used in English and most European languages) groups sounds into words. This makes it easy to learn and write, as there are only 26 symbols to learn. Chinese, on the other hand, has characters that each represent a syllable. Chinese is quicker to read as the language is much more compact. Meaning that a given amount of information needs less ‘centimeters’ of running text, less distance for the eye to travel. For comparison:
- I am from the Netherlands
In Chinese, each syllable is presented by a ‘block’. However, as there are thousands of characters and they are not phonetic, learning Chinese writing takes a long time. So the Latin alphabet is easy to learn; the Chinese writing system is easy to read.
The Korean alphabet (Hangul), combines the strength of both systems. There are 14 consonants and 10 vowels, and they are combined in characters. Altogether that means Korean can express an enormous deal of sounds within each character, yet it’s easy to learn as there are only 24 basic symbols to remember.
According to Harry, the speed of writing and reading is an important factor behind the success of Naver. Koreans hardly use Google when they are looking for something online, but rather use Naver. Naver, however, is not based on algorithms that scour the web, but on input by its users. Koreans contributed and rate information about any imaginable subject, and this makes the quality of information a lot better than anything generated by a machine. This is only possible because of the speed of reading / writing in Korean; otherwise people would not bother.
So that gives me something to ponder. If Naver is world’s most powerful and updated knowledge database, then I want in! Do you think this is a good reason to learn the language?
If you sign up with Daehan, Mr. Quek will intro you on the Korean language as well. Check available courses in Singapore on our site if you want to start learning Korean!