A Guide to Korean Expressions
“Looking for a Mr. Kim in Seoul” has the same meaning as ’finding a needle in a haystack’ in English as Kim is one of the most popular family name in Korea. Expressions reflect the culture, and the history of its people. Even if you know the meaning of each word, you probably will not understand the entire expression without understanding the culture. Looking for a Mr. Kim in Seoul: A Guide to Korean Expressions (Infini Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-1-93-245703-2, $16.95) makes enjoyable the discovery of the connection between its language and the Korean people and their history and culture.
Many Korean expressions reflect the gritty side of Koreans, who have endured conflict and hardship throughout their history. There are also humorous expressions such as “I laughed so hard that I thought my belly button would pop out." Some expressions are vaguely familiar: "The other man's rice cake always looks bigger,” and "Packed like bean sprouts." Other expressions are very unique, after having a delicious meal, you may say, "You wouldn't notice even if your friend at the same table dies." When you are in a heated discussion, you may yell “You Die! I Die!”
“Looking for a Mr. Kim in Seoul” is arranged by themes in
14 chapters, including anatomical terms, grit and hardship, money, proverbs
as propaganda (North Korea) and family relationships. Each of the sayings
is given in English, Korean and English transliteration. An English translation
is followed with an extended explanation of the meaning, origin, as well
as additional information such as variants and additional explanation.
The book contains pronunciation guide, map of Korea, indices in English,
Korean and some Hanja, Chinese characters used in Korea. This 256 page
book retails for $16.95 and will be available for wide release on September
The idea for “Looking for a Mr. Kim in Seoul” came from co-author Christopher Torchia who was stationed in Korea as Associated Press Bureau Chief from 1999 to 2005. He had a collection of idioms and phrases that captured the character of the people and their culture from Haiti and the Maasai tribe in East Africa. Torchia wanted a similar book about Korean culture, through Korean expressions. After all, Torchia and co-author Sang-Hun Choe had written countless stories about conflict, elections and diplomacy of Korean Peninsula as Associated Press reporters. Choe first collected thousands of expressions, scribbling them as he scoured his own mind for phrases he had never thought twice about. Torchia and Choe reviewed the edits in between their coverage of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Korea, taking another two years for Looking for a Mr. Kim in Seoul, which is based on a previously published “How Koreans Talk” by EunHangNaMoo in Korea. Sang-Hun Choe has won a Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for coverage of the Korean War’s No Gun Ri incident. Choe is currently the Korea correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and this is his third book. Christopher Torchia was the bureau chief in Korea for Associated Press from 1999-2005 when he wrote the book. Torchia is currently the AP’s bureau chief in Turkey.
The selection and coverage of Korean expressions are comprehensive... I am impressed by the number and the variety of topics that the authors have collected. The English translations are incisive and, above all, very readable.... even for readers with little previous knowledge of Korean culture.
- Dr. Han-Kyo Kim, Professor Emeritus at University of Cincinnati
Looking for a Mr. Kim in Seoul:
A Guide to Korean Expressions
by Sang-Hun Choe & Christopher Torchia
Edited by Michael Yoon Chen &
paperback 6" x 9"
Pages: 256 page
Publication Date: September 2007
Rights: English/Korean, Worldwide
Additional information: Ideal for Korean Studies or Korean Language program at college level
- Expressions in Korean
- McCune-Reischauer Romanization
- Explanation in English
- Additional examples of expressions
- Index in English
- Index in Korean
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