Reading Korean is a nightmare read this Korean ebook months and months ago ( I think it’s 인간에 대한 예의 공지영… too lazy to check. I’m never gonna read another book by this lady? or Maybe just avoid korean fiction altogether? lol haha ) which was actually a collection of short stories and this one short story was a real nightmare to read. I was hopeful at first since it featured a North Korean since I find North Korea fascination. I didn’t get that into it so I didn’t feel like re-reading stuff so I trudged on reading while being confused (doing my best to tolerate it and ignore it) and trying to use the least amount of mental energy possible.

The most frustrating part of the book was reading the dialogue. the frustration is similar to reading text messages in English where you’re not sure what the tone of voice is or the person’s intention or emotion is the text. Thinking about that is tiring and not worth the effort. I’d rather just talk to the person on the phone or in-person! Reading Korean dialogue in books is like that frustration times a hundred AT LEAST

I think it’s the author’s fault and not my fault haha. I say this even though I’m not fluent in Korean just because the book pissed me off. My vocab was decent. I think I already knew 80-90% of the vocab and I used the pop-up dictionary in the ereader

So she kept doing ONLY quotes where the characters have back and forth dialogue and but she doesn’t say ANYTHING about who said it. Generally, in books the author will be like “~~~” sally said in a bitchy tone or “~~~” Bob said while looking down etc. They don’t resort to pure quote dialogue with no descriptions unless it’s really obvious as to WHO is speaking.  This is a short story so I can only know the characters/situation so welll… This bitch (the female author lol) kept doing back and forth dialogue with only quotes with no description of action or how it was said or who said it. The problem is nearly everything a person said between the quotes can be in more than one way. sometime it’s more than 2 ways becasue KOREAN GRAMMAR. It’s really frustrating to read! Korean grammar is just extra. This is one of the reasons why I LOVE HAVING an English translation or Japanese translation or whatever translation where the translator does ALL THE INTERPRETATION FOR ME ( you can google for definitions or use papago translator  or lingoes for looking up meanings and grammar crap but the interpretation requires a korean person!! it’s especially the case when there’s multiple multiple possible interpretations) and I don’t’ have to waste time/energy on interpreting stuff only to be completely off the MARK. I find korean harder than japanese simply because of this “interpretation” skill that I don’t possess since I’m not a native speaker and  the onyl way to clarify shit is to ask a native speaker.  Japanese interpretation/comprehension/inferred-meaning/actual-meaning/etc is pretty straight-forward compared to korean interpretation/comprehension/inferred-meaning/actual-meaning/etc haha… Because of the grammar ending and lack of descriptions the line of dialogue could be interpreted as a sarcastic remark, a joke, hypothetical question the speaker is saying to himself, hypothetical question the speaker is directing to the interlocutor, a firm, a REAL question, angry remark, sad remark etc etc and the only way to know is by context. BTW, in KOrean you can ask questions (to yourself especially for pondering and wondering or agonizing or whatever it is) without the question mark because of the millions of grammar endings lol. Of course, like Spanish, Korean people omit the subject of the sentence whenever possible so it was  a fluster cuck of circumstances culminating together to confound me. I guess Korean is worse than Spanish because at least with Spanish if they’re asking a question there’s always a question mark AND they have the upside question mark to make it that much more obvious that indeed a QUESTION IS BEING ASKED. I would read a line of dialogue and go who is doing what to what??? (it’s just awful). Also, I’d literally be like it’s either person A talking or person B is the one talking and he happens to be extremely self-deprecating or maybe it is person A and the statement that he made is a joke (plus I’m not 100% if the speaker’s statement is being directed towards the speaker himself, the conversation partner, to no one in particular etc). It’s so bad that I don’t even know WHO IS TALKING!!! I can’t even tell if the statement is directed towards the speaker or interlocutor. It’s impossible to tell because I don’t even know if it’s a firm statement or a sarcastic remark… Imagine 2 people having a conversation and 90% of the dialogue is like this from BOTH PARTIES where it’s vague and confusing as to what they mean. I wish I had an anchor ! Instead I get 2 buoys that confuse and distract me. Neither party speaks in a way that is uncryptic and unambiguous so a maelstrom of frustration ensues. Not to mention they’re arguing and whatnot so it adds another layer of frustration and annoyance and difficulty (I don’t know the characters’ personalities inside out so i don’t know if person a is just being passive-aggressive or it’s actually person b who is talking… wtf. ) ! Perhaps it is possible for me to figure out who is talking in the dialogue if I were to analyze it and explore all the possibilities (the interpretations) but I refuse to do that! The only way I can figure out what’s what is to ask a korean person (who is willing to read this story. Can’t really guarantee that since most korean people don’t read books nowadays lol), track down an audiobook etc. It’s a real nightmare!!!! I just kept reading and making assumptions and my assumptions changed every 10 seconds lol. At the end I was thoroughly mind-fucked because I understood what happened in the story but the dialogue was really confusing because I kept interpreting it wrong then correct then wrong or I’m not sure if I’m correct or not. I thought person A was talking but then it sounded like Person B was talking UNLESS person a was being sarcastic or asking a hypothetical question (I can’t fucking tell). Then I started thinking well if you’re writing quote only dialogue can the same person speak or does it mean the dialogue is always alternating… I did not reach a conclusive answer by the end of the book lol. In the beginning I even tried to keep all the possibilities in mind (I was like let’s assume this is a hypothetical statement or a firm statement and make my final judgement based on the dialogue that follows and then the dialogue that follows is even more AMBIGUOUS And vague as to the correct interpretation or emotion behind the words and just makes my judgement forming action that much more impossible and taxing) while reading the dialogue and I had to stop after a while because it’s way too TAXING and NOT working.

The 2 people don’t even speak in drastically distinct styles (ie dialect, personalities, speaking quirks or habits) and they were close in age and the gender was the same. The only way to follow it is via LOGIC (in relation to the story and the character dynamic etc) and interpretation skills because the statements are vague and you can interpret them in many ways (the key is to interpret it the correct way, the native-korean speaker level way). I just blame the author!!! One of the stories also had the same problem with back-and-forth dialogue with quotes and nothing else except instead of 2 characters it had 5 characters and i was too lazy to keep track of the characters. some of the characters were literally referred to by their outfit/garment color so I had zero interest or energy to keep track of it.

Anyway, I have zero interest re-reading the story because it just pissed me off and I’d rather read a summary. It’s just way too confusing and energy-consuming to read. My korean interpretation skills need work or this lady needs to stop assuming that people can read her MIND or that we know her characters’ personalities inside out because we don’t since it’s a SHORT STORY. I never had this awful experience in Japanese or English or French. I didn’t experience this in the other few KOrean novels I read. MAybe I would experience the same level of confusion and frustration if I were to read a script for a Korean drama episode with all indications of who is the speaker is omitted (the name colon thing on the left side in scripts) ??  I notice sometimes in dramas person A will say something that’s not directed towards anyone (they’re just thinking/pondering/bitching out-loud while having a conversation with person B), or it’ll be directed towards themselves, or it’ll be directed towards person B etc etc.  It must be a bitch to follow that just from the text compared to watching a drama. BTW, They talk way too much in KOrean dramas. Conversations that drag on for 5 minutes could be done in 20 seconds and most importantly no one talks like korean drama characters. do not talk like korean drama characters with korean people… they will think you’re crazy.

Unpopular opinion: The Little Prince royally sucks
My goal isn’t to be fluent or to get good very quickly. I know how to learn a language while being inconsistent/sporadic in my efforts. I’ve had many half-baked attempts at learning french since 2015?? 2016?? I’m okay with it since there’s only so many hours in a day and I have a lot of stuff I want to do in English, Japanese, Korean and I have a life and I want to practice self-care and all that.

I think once I read 10 books in French I’ll feel more comfortable/intermediate but I have a life so I don’t have time so who knows when I’ll get there (I have zero interest reading french translations !) .  Plus I’m interested in Spanish so I may read 10 books in Spanish first. I’m torn but I have no time anyway! I’m leaning towards French because I love how French doesn’t drop the subject while Spanish like Korean ALWAYS DOES whenever possible which is a nightmare for language learners and it’s a no-biggie for native speakers of course! Plus learning Spanish while knowing English and French is easier than just knowing English right (If I do the French -> Spanish route) ?? I gotta make decisions. read the little prince in 2016? I had the English translation at hand to reference it so I understood it. Anyway, the Little Prince sucks. I have nothing against kids books but I have something against kids books that are poorly written. I have so many recommendations for interesting, well-written kids books in English for kids between the ages of 5-10. Why is this book being recommended so much? I am truly stumped.

Besides being an awful book it’s horrible for language learning

1) I hated it. Unfortunately I read it to the end instead of stopping!!

It is not because of unwarranted high expectations because I know it’s an extremely old, kids book. Actually, children’s book have STIFF COMPETITION…  I’ve read children’s books in English because I was once a child and this book really sucks compared to whatever I read as a child. There are so many wonderful children’s books out there and some are so good that even adults enjoy them. The little prince was unremarkable in every single way.

2) It’s random and illogical.
Those are pretty much the worst characteristics of sentences/word-choice for language learning. I don’t mind random if it’s executed well ie when it’s witty, funny, interesting, entertaining. For the little prince it is never any of those adjectives.

It felt like random for the sake random in the worst way I never knew random could be this dull. The
sentences are not conducive to language learning. You could’ve told me ivrogne means thomeless/stripper/dancer/pedestrian/hula-hoop (it really means drunk) etc I would’ve believed you and also promptly forget the word and meaning because it’s arbitrary. I have to mention that I subscribe to STeve Kaufmann’s belief that you may need to encounter the word being used 20-30 times sometimes to have to it stick so I don’t have unrealistic expectations of coming across magical sentences left and right that make the word effortless and easy to remember on the first encounter. Even taking that into account, the sentences/story in Little Prince are not good for language learning.

I also hate alice in wonderland. I never knew how much the book sucked until I actually tried to read it. Holly from girls next door quoted from that book a lot and the quotes make the book seem much better than it actually is. It’s astounding how much a book can suck despite its popularity. Well there’s 50 shades of Gray but I never really tried to read-read it lol.

I listened to the audio using workaudiobook while so one thing I definitely learned is that petit prince is pronounced PETI PRAN in French. Or at least that’s what it sounds like to my American ears. I’m still working out the phonetics in French. Which reminds me I can’t pronounce petite prince because of the French R and I can’t pronounce cinq  (probably because I can’t hear it)

For good children’s books in English for people learning English I would recommend Roald Dahl of course and My Father’s Dragon.

i recommend the WHO Is SHE STORIES on lingq for anyone who is beginner. It’s fairly fun and entertaining while the little prince is dull as paint drying on the wall

On a positive note, I learned my lesson and gave up on The Stranger very quickly (maybe after 1 chapter). It was not drawing me in whatsoever. I don’t think I’d read it even if i was fluent in french or only knew french etc. When I read fiction in English that doesn’t click with me I usually just stop or skim like crazy or skip pages like crazy and I may or may not read the end just to get it out of my system. I gotta go with my gut feeling. It’s hard to find good fiction books in English because I’m very picky about writing style. I want to read something that feels enjoyable and effortless or not effortless but worth reading. I recommend the martian, perfume (german book translatd to english and the translation won an award. the translator is brilliant), you by caroline something, and octavia butler ( thanks Oprah).

On an even more positive note, I started reading Jamais Assez Maigre de Victoire Maçon Dauxerre in french with the english translation at-hand and no french audio. I’m confident I can read it to the end and pick up on whatever words/sentence structures that repeat a lot. I listen to korean/japanese music while reading it since it’s not that distracting.

The book isn’t amazing but it’s entertaining enough and useful for learning French. Coincidentally or not I am watching America’s Next Top Model haha. I make anki cards while reading book because I have a .txt of the French book but I don’t go crazy over it. I am very picky because I know words will repeat I don’t want to spend too much time making anki cards. If I come across a sentence 2 words I don’t know I usually just choose one or none or if I come across a sentence with 5 words I don’t know (ie list of nouns) I choose one or none. I’ve been trying to hone-in on my decision making skills and I am very aware of natural SRS when you just read a lot! I use autohotkey and excel to collect the text and make cards so I try to keep it efficient. I have to use EXCEL because I can only tolerate cloze cards! Also I can easily make all the words bold/huge/etc  I can’t imagine clozing the whole word. I cloze 1 character usually. I cloze 2 characters if I think the word is easy and I should push myself. I execute that by sending the sentence to one of the 2 different .txt files using authotkey. I haven’t imported any of the cards yet. I think I’ll do it after I finish the book.

Here is an example:

Si elles deviennent gênantes , il suffit de leur jeter un sort pour *-{{c1::b}}rider -* leur magie .
If they become annoying , just cast a spell on them . to bind/ *-{{c2::re}}strain -* their magic .

in anki it looks like:


As I explained thoroughly in my posts about anki and Korean, anki is merely a tool and passively reading sentences over and over doesn’t do shit for me unless it’s in the context of REAL LIFE or of reading an actual book if some sentence structure happens to repeat etc. Passively reading sentences in anki is especially unhelpful for remembering or learning words. Cloze facilitates active recall which is so much more useful than passively reading crap. Also like Korean I use very lax settings in anki so I push shit out far which lets me figure out which words are actually hard and which are actually easy.

Also I use lingoes pop-up dictionary and DEEPL since I have the .txt of the French book in addition or in lieu of referencing the English translation. In hindsight, I’m very glad that I dragged my feet and didn’t accomplish much French learning in 2015/2016 because DEEPL’s pop-up translation windows program only became available this year or last year.  It’s an amazing tool! It’s superior to google translate for French, German, and a bunch of other languages.

In conclusion, I should have dropped little prince 3 paragraphs in, and the same with The Stranger. I cannot make myself like something and my gut tells me that it has nothing to do with my level of French. English is my native language but that doesn’t mean I love Charles Dickens or How to Kill a Mockingbird or whatever bullshit book that is supposedly amazing. You have to read stuff you actually like. there’s so many books out there and you don’t have to read a book that makes reading feel like a chore. It’s a cardinal rule of AJATT and it’s something I should always keep in my heart and mind.

I was going to blog about what a nightmare it was to read a Korean short story but I can’t find my draft. It’s a nightmare that never happens in Japanese, French, or English.


Anki Stats and Settings for half-assing Korean

A supplement to my holy grail anki format post I suppose though I did write a lot about my anki settings in that post. Guess that means holy grail anki post is a supplement to this post as well. This post features the DEETS


ihSMLF.pngAs you can see, I suck at showing up lol. It makes sense since I usually don’t do anki on most weekends (about 73 days when I do 52 x 0.7 x 2.. so there were 93 additional days that I didn’t do anki.. i musta been busy or didn’t feel like doing it) and I do reviews during dead time rather than part of a daily routine. They say you should use anki everyday for optimal results but I don’t completely agree with me at least for my case. I can say with confidence that half-assing anki does HELP and WORK. Of course since I don’t do reviews every day there are times where I have 500 reviews overdue. There have even been times where I was over a 1000 deep in overdue cards. However, this doesn’t freak me out since I have huge intervals so even if I chip at it slowly I eventually catch up because it’s not like the cards that I press “good” on come back into the pile in a few days…. Because I exclusively use cloze cards and have at least 2 clozes per card the 1000 card is more like 500 cards… Not to mention if I remember the word despite the card being over due for however many days or weeks, that just goes to show that I have great memory lol and I can feel better about myself j/k. Sometimes anki underestimates me!  Because I have huge intervals, most of the cards that intervals of at least weeks or months so it doesn’t make a big difference if I see it 9 weeks later as opposed to 7 weeks or 2 months and 3 weeks instead of 2 months. Most cards have intervals of weeks or months so catching up is not a big deal and I don’t fail cards left and right to the point of despair. As I mentioned in my huge holy grail anki card format post, I do not mark fail on all the cards I fail since it’s counterproductive. For one thing, all cards are NOT equal. Some cards/words are just more useful than others and it can take a while to figure out which cards/words are very useful. If I had guess, I’d say I fail 70-100% of failed cards during reviews depending on how I feel. For example, if I already failed 10 -15 cards, I will feel less inclined to fail failed cards since I know I won’t want to deal with more than 15-20 cards 3 days (my step for lapsed cards) from when I failed them. Also if I skip anki for several days I may end up dealing with 40 failed cards from the 2 previous anki sessions in a review session so I keep that in mind too. I usually choose HARD for failed cards that I don’t want to fail (I’d rather deal with it x weeks/months from now rather than now) but sometimes I choose GOOD if the interval for GOOD is more ideal. Sometimes it’s better to deal with those cards LATER than right away since there is the off-chance that I will learn the word effortlessly from watching Korean TV. One recent example is 사재기 . At that time it was just another unknown word in a rap song from show me the money or high school rapper (it clearly wasn’t in the chorus lol.. i love the repetition in korean hip-hop/rap in the chorus/hook/etc especially when it features words I don’t know so that I can remember them effortlessly).

It’s in anki in my usual cloze format but for some reason I have trouble with remembering the word and the meaning… the word just doesn’t sound like what it means to me for some reason. So I failed it a bunch of times but later on I ended up learning the word effortlessly from Korean NEWS since everyone is stocking up on food and masks with the Corona Virus panic. I saw it being used in the news and remembered the cloze cards in my anki and understood it free of manual dictionary look-ups. Of course I probably  couldn’t have done that if the card wasn’t in anki in the clozed deletion format (some words are memorable so even if  i don’t make an anki card for it,,, i still remember it months later while other words/definitions leave my memory the second i finish reading the definition in the dictionary. I can vouch for this with conviction from my experience anking all these years with the crappy default settings and my superior settings ). Even though I failed the card a bunch of times, the cloze deletion format enables me to gain vague familiarity with the meaning and the word so that when I am presented the word in native media in the specific context/usage I recognize it ( that it’s in my deck and the info itself usually) then make the connection effortlessly and strengthen my connection. So the next time I see the word in anki I will mark it easy and not suspend it since I want to practice easy active recall (I only suspend really easy words)!

same thing also happened with gijige = stretch. I think I don’t have a cloze card for this word. The cards (plural because there are duplicate cards) for this word are in basic format in the huge decks I made from importing stuff from various sources.

It’s obviously better to spend your time learning/remembering words in memorable context in native material than to mindlessly drill words using ridiculous steps in anki (even if it feels like it works, it usually implodes on itself a week or 2 or a month later). The memory bond you make from encountering the word in a native material is always going to be stronger and longer-lasting than the memory bond you make from drilling the word in anki using ridiculous steps. My goal is to enjoy Korean media as much as a native, and not doing my anki reviews as honestly as possible.


It shows that I haven’t added new cards recently but I did have 300 new, unseen cards at one point. It’s inevitable since I only see 14 new cards a day with my settings. hmm I might have temporarily lowered number of new cards to 9 or something… can’t remember. It worked out fine since settings enable me to figure out which cards are actually easy and actually hard. I can never tell with certainty until anki shows me the card x months or weeks later.


Besides how I feel, the retention rate dictates whether or not I am using anki optimally. The retention rate is the section with the buttons. You can download plugins to get true retention rate or retention rate for mature card and whatnot if you want more data! I personally don’t bother since I know anki works for me.

The ideal retention rate for language learning is 80-90%. If any more or less, you’re probably wasting time. For my I got 97.95% for learning cards, 91.45% for young cards, and 90.95% for mature cards. They’re all above 90% but I’m not going to modify my settings because the majority of my cards are cloze cards and I don’t fail every card I fail. So I’m just going to assume that due to those factors, my retention is rate is actually around 80-90%.

Regarding my holy grail cloze format, it still is my holy grail format. How else do I get 7.4 secs per card? I don’t make as much cards one at a time while watching Korean shows. Compared to before I make 95% less cards than before. If I look up 20 words on lingoes while watching a show, I will probably end up hand-making my cloze deletion card for maybe 1-2 of them. The reason is because I use morphman’s mass tagger feature and priority.db. out of the 20 words I look, I will probably send anywhere from 5-10 of them to a .txt file using authotkey and a gaming house so I can curate those cards into a deck. Then during reviews I mark cards that I want cloze versions of since korean has homonyms and i have duplicate cards on top of that. Also some cards have example sentences, some have English, some have Japanese so I gotta pick the cards out. As I’ve mentioned before, you can mass make clozes in excel so the cards I pull into a deck CAN BE converted into cloze format by changing note type. I suck at deleting and suspending anki cards sometimes but I am great at curating! Doing the same thing for Japanese of course though I have very little to look up while watching honestly compared to Korean.

My glorious settings


These settings give me 4 days -AGAIN , 8 days – GOOD , and 11 days  -EASY for new cards!

I think it’s 1 day for good and 4 days for easy and like 1 minute again for the default settings lol. As you can see the settings make a HUGE DIFFERENCE.

I highly recommend changing steps, minimum interval (why the hell would i want to see a card the next day.. that ain’t spaced repetition and i have no patience or desire to see failed cards that soon let alone 1 minute later….) and graduating interval from the default settings!

I’m very satisfied with my anki settings. The setting that I despise the most in the default anki settings is the steps. I love my 3900 for steps for new cards. I don’t do multiple steps because I like the FUZZ factor that anki imparts on cards that are in review (and out of steps) so that if you have 10 cards with the interval of 5 days they don’t all show up 5 days later (some are 4, some are 6 etc). The fuzz factor evens out anki reviews better than steps which are exact… The default anki settings for steps is asinine and insulting especially if you make your own cards one at a time!!! I try to import whenever applicable though. Isn’t the default steps like 1 10 .. wtf is that. who the hell has time for that!!! stop the madness! there’s way too much interesting, compelling stuff to read/listen/watch/etc.  So if you do your first run through for let’s say 50 cards depending on your settings (show failed cards sprinkled in the reviews or after reviews or before reviews etc), anki will start showing you the same card 2 times because the 1 min or 10 min is up but that makes no damn sense and kills the flow.

The main reason why I’m okay with not doing anki every day is the fact that my intervals are huge. To me it makes sense to “push myself” with big interviews to weed out the cards that are actually hard rather than over-reviewing cards. The other reason I’m okay with huge intervals is that I am familiar with Korean since I already knew Japanese when I started and I’ve been learning it, albeit half-assedly, since summer 2011. If you still have the default anki settings even though it’s 8 years into learning a language, you either really suck at the language or you’re extremely contently learning a language at a slow-steady space or you’re unnecessarily wasting a lot of time on Anki. Of course if you have no foundation in the language that you’re learning or you’re doing some pre-made deck, you probably can’t do huge intervals. However, at the same time you don’t know what intervals you can handle until you actually try it. In fact, I first entered these settings on a whim as an experiment, just to see how “bad” it’ll be with not remembering anything but I ended up weeding out the “hard” cards and not wasting time on easy cards. Of course I failed more cards (it wasn’t a drastic increase) with the newer lax settings compared to my original lax settings but overall I end up saving time with the laxer settings since I can efficiently identify troublesome cards and easy cards (sometimes you just don’t know if a card is easy or tricky until anki tests ya x days or weeks later). For example with my original lax settings I might press good on a “hard” card 2 OR 3 times then fail it on the 3rd view and with my laxer settings I end up pressing good on a “hard” card once then fail it on the 2nd review. For easy cards, I would press easy on an “easy” card on my original lax settings 2-3 times in the same time span it would take for me to press “easy” once on laxer settings.  Another boon of huge intervals is that it helps me notice how much better it is to learn a language with anki versus NO anki. It’s so much easier to notice how much I would’ve never remembered or retained by ONLY looking up a word in a dictionary and not addING it to anki since there’s no guarantee I will come across the word again in a convenient time span in native material.  The settings are definitely are hitting a sweet spot in which I’m shown the card sometime right before the memory is completely obliterated from my brain lol( I pretty much never experienced this with the default settings lol) . I can say with overwhelming, beaming confidence that I learned/retained/re-learned WAY MORE KOREAN this past year with ANKI versus if I had done the exact same things I did with KOREAN with no anki. Not bad for only doing anki 200/365 days = 54.8% of the year especially because it said I averaged 16.7 min/day (I shudder and gasp when I hear horror stories of people spending wayyyyyyyyyy too much time on anki reviews for language learning).  I had no idea I sucked at showing up this badly but it doesn’t make much of a difference since I can only tolerate anki with huge intervals. Space repetition for the win! As I’ve said many times, I have no idea why people use flash cards or notebooks (i especially roll my eyes and wince at the people using multiple colored pens to copy the dictionary  and example sentence etc) for learning languages…

I cap the number of reviews at 40 and number of new cards at 14 because I like doing those number of cards especially since doing 14 new cards is like doing 7 easy new cards since they’re clozed cards. Any more just feels burdensome. However, I usually go back to the Korean deck multiple times to do 50 or 60 more reviews after doing other decks. Even if I tried to do 200 reviews in my korean deck, I know I will zone out after probably the 50th or 60th or 70th card so I don’t even put myself in that position. I use to lie to myself that I was paying attention after the 100th card etc but not anymore !! No point lying to yourself! I know what I can do and what I hate, so I work around that. Again, the conventional anki wisdom of completing all your reviews for the day does not work for me. It would just make me miserable, make anki time-consuming. Lastly, I wouldn’t feel a tangible/noticeable benefit in my comprehension of Korean media (compared to half-assing anki) since I already understand it really well. I’m just learning words that natives know that I don’t know that aren’t common (ESPECially since I don’t watch/read Korean everyday since I have a damn life and enjoy my media in Japanese and English) but are still useful. I have NO aspirations of learning obscure Korean words that most native speakers don’t know unless there’s some special reason such as me possessing a keen interest in some niche field that most Koreans don’t have interest in (this has not happened to me yet!). I have my priorities straight which is that Korean media dictates what’s important and what I want to learn and remember rather than anki.

Anki said I did 27,039 reviews and I have 4064 cards. Of the 4064 notes, 2400 notes are new cards. To do some crude generalization and math,  27,039/4064 cards gives me 6.6 reviews per card over the year.  Since I only do cloze format for Korean that 6.6 reviews feels more like 13.2 reviews ( I usually make 2 cloZes) so I’m that much more content. That sounds good and efficient to me and you sure as fuck can’t get that with flashcards that have no space repetition especially with 2400 cards.  All it means is that I see the cards a bunch of times in increasing intervals over a long period of time which is what I want. I’m sure if I use the default settings my number of reviews would be triple or quadruple or even sextuple this number and I wouldn’t necessarily get better results and waste a shit ton of time and be anki’s bitch. This is one of the biggest reasons why I get irate when people try to compare anki with flash cards. They’re not in the same realm. They’re COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. STOP COMPARING THEM. I rolled my eyes when I read that someone decided to use quizlet instead of anki for aesthetic reasons… lol… There’s a lot to customize for anki and nothing to customize for flash cards…  even if we Were to talk about anki, depending on your settings and card type and how you use it, our experiences will be vastly different. The Anki experience varies greatly depending on HOW you use it and SET it up. Sure you can review a card with flashcards 13 times over a span of a week or a month but you probably won’t remember shit after a year or two since you’re not spacing the intervals. I have no idea why some people are so set on learning inefficiently with flashcards for languages of all things.

Lastly it said I made almost 2400 cards but the number of notes is 1204. The number of notes is more important since I make multiple clozes. I found this out by searching card:1 added:365 in anki browse under the deck.

Felt like posting this since people sometimes obsess over using anki the most optimal way possible and end up spending way too much time on it. At the end of the day, anki is a supplement to language learning and half-ass anking still works ( It’s especially the case if you’re making your own cards  and have a foundation with the language.). ANKI should not be some time-sucking vortex (making cards, editing cards, reviewing cards, fiddling with settings, fiddling with formatting/css etc, fiddling with plug-ins) ! I’d say if you’re using the default settings for language learning, it is precisely what I mentioned in the previous sentence. If the only way you can sustain anki reviews is by using the default settings, you’re probably better off doing other activities like reading and listening while putting your faith in natural SRS. Yes, some words repeat so often that you don’t even need to make anki cards for them….The default settings aren’t based on science and aren’t optimized for learning and all that jazz. Not to mention we’re all different which means we have different forgetting curves. The default settings are arbitrary! Most of all, they are OVERKILL

Overdue Grammar Look-ups: Korean & Japanese

Just sharing grammar look-ups that I never got around to looking up and reading until months/years after the thought popped in my mind. Well I guess it’s better to look up stuff months/years too late than looking stuff up too early (with the exception basic/common crap) since you have no frame of reference nor a reason to care about the grammar point. I could literally spend hundreds of hours reading about obscure Korean grammar I will never hear or read (or maybe once in a blue moon) using some advanced gramamr book but that’s not worth a damn. In fact, I skimmed through some advanced grammar thing on Korean to experience the vastness of Korean grammar first-hand. (The book would mention such and such grammar point is used commonly in daily speech and I would respond with I’ve never heard anyone say this in daily speech… is this a 1980s/1990s/1970s thing? anime dub thing? k-drama thing? I didn’t know what to make of it… )I just The funny thing is I understand talk/variety shows 90-97%+ so the remaining 5 % obviously isn’t due to my lack of grammar… it’s mostly vocab. It just makes no sense for me to read about obscure grammar points which are endless for Korean.

Though if I did look up the stuff that I will link below months/years ago when the thought initially popped in my head, I could’ve really internalized the grammar points by now from being aware of the grammar while encountering it.

KOREAN: 던 vs 었던

I always assumed that dun is present tense and eut-dun/tt-dun is past tense. Lately I kept noticing that they kept describing past tense stuff with dun and not eut-dun/tt-dun which means that dun can be used to describe past tense and I need to learn out about the difference in nuances between these two. After reading all the grammar explanation I’m sure I would’ve never figuerd that out just from watching/reading/listening a lot nor do I want to subject myself to such a complicated investigation. Best of all the explanations are available FREE online. It was satisfying to clear up this mystery that I‘t solve this whole time.

dun / at-dun


Lesson 27: Using ~던/었던 to Describe Past Tense





I added the links to my evernote

At the time, I decided to paste grammar stuff into evernote rather than make anki cards since didn’t feel like it was worth anking grammar points. However, now I think it is worth anking that stuff because now I know that I can modify the anki settings so that the intervals are huge which is what I need for grammar stuff.

Saseru – shiyaku
This is something I wish I looked up in the beginning of learning Japanese because it’s everywhere and it’s used very often. Unfortunately I was only equipped with what tae kim said about it which is the tip of the iceberg.I remember I would come across Japanese sentences that have the saseru conjugation that didn’t sit right with me. Whatever Tae Kim covered about saseru did not include the saseru usages that I was coming across. I felt like I got the meaning/nuance but I like reading the explanation to confirm that and to also learn whatever it is that i wasn’t able to infer on my own. Also I could tell that some of the usages of the saseru were stuff that I would NEVER EVER be able produce in speech or writing though I understood it (of course not to the full extent. I would notice that they’re using the saseru conjugation as opposed to plain or the rareru stuff but I wouldn’t know the exact reason why. I have a vague guess or understanding but it’s not satisfying enough for me) and came across hundreds of fantastic example sentences in native material. I never figured out how to use saseru in all its usages just from consuming content but I was relatively satisfied in terms of my passive

understanding from encountering it so many times. I kept putting it on my mental list to look up saseru and all the different meanings and implications of saseru but I never got around to it until now. It is absolutely useful and helpful to know all the different usages of saseru so that I can notice the nuances and finally reach a point where I can use it myself. It’s always in my best interest to have stuff to notice than to remain ignorant and assume I will figure out all the nuances from pure comprehensive input/immersion. By figure out I mean understand it so well that I can use it correctly.

I also looked up shikida for korean in case I was missing something.


Korean listening comprehension observations watched the recent episode of PD NOTE because it covered the vote rigging controversy surrounding the Produce series. I recorded all the parts I couldn’t understand or wasn’t sure of while watching and asked someone what the hell they said. They sub some of the dialogue or maybe most of it with Korean subs for this show so the stuff I pulled are the parts they didn’t sub that I couldn’t catch. 12 or so words for a 49 minute show ain’t too bad~

If you’d to test your Korean listening comprehension skills using this, don’t read the answers section until you write up your answers!

• 100% 시청자 투표 ___

• _탁구강습으로최종 점수도 _____

• ___답으로

• ____기획사를 __ 했습니다

• 조용히 ___

• 대기업이 ______를 독점적으로

• ___투표의손실은

• 워너원은___논란

• ____연예기획사

• 당사자를 _______

• 경연으로___진출다

Answers are :

  1. 이 프로그램은 100% 시청자 투표로 당락이 결정되는 오디션. 방송에 나오지 않은 연습생들은
  2. (-하거든 사실) 야간에는 탁구 강습으로 투잡을 뛰면서 10년 동안 딸의 뒷바라지를 해온 아버지는 오디션 프로그램의 투표 조작…
  3. 탈락한 것. 게다가 방송 말미에 공개된 최종 점수도 석연치 않았습니다.
  4. 진상 규명 요구에는 묵묵부답으로 일관해온 CJ E&M. 그런데 지난 10월…
  5. 군소 기획사들을 자회사로 편입해 왔습니다.
  6. 조용히 묻혔습니다. 그리고 올해 다시- [Audio changed] (-네 아닌 걸 아니라고-)
  7. 유통을 장악한 대기업들이 문화 산업을 독점적으로 지배할 수 없도록 만든 제도입니다.
  8. 실패한 투자의 손실은 과연 누구의 몫일까?
  9. -동안 워너원은 혹사 논란이 일 정도로 바쁜 일정을 소화했습니다.
  10. 군소 연예 기획사들이 큰 상처를 입었습니다.
  11. 피해 당사자를 회유해서 문제를 덮고 넘어가기에 바빴습니다.
  12. 경연으로 단계별 진출자를 가리는 서바이벌 방식.

Answers with my thoughts

  1. 이 프로그램은 100% 시청자 투표로 당락이 결정되는 오디션. 방송에 나오지 않은 연습생들은                              *** I DON’T know this word. I heard dang nak 당낙 and I got nothing in lingoes dictionary and of course I’t feel like thinking up all the possible ways to spell Korean words that can be pronounced as 당낙 and swiftly gave up when lingoes dictionary gave me no results. Turns out I heard right; Anyways, I just don’t have the sound-change rules memorized like that and I refuse to do that haha. Well at least with this encounter I’ll hopefully remember the next time I encounter a korean word with a ㅇ  bacchim followed by ㄹ  consonant sound, the ㄹ consonant turns into a ㄴ sound.  I actually already know a bunch of words that have this sound change rule like 격려 경녀 but that rule did not cross my mind whatsoever when i was typing dang-nak into lingoes. I have a similar souding word in anki and I’ve been pronouncing wrong this whole time!. Good to know. I must’ve added it before I got the 900,000+ dictinoary which has pronunciation info (I got it from produce 101 season 2- i didn’t notice that BoA was saying dng nak and not dng rak 등낙). Overall, I appareciate the RULE because it probably came about from ease of pronunciation ie saying  당낙 10 times fast is easier than saying 당락 10 times fast. It sucks how in korean that SOMETIMES even if I catch it perfectly I still can’t look up the word because I can’t think of all the possible ways to spell a word. Also I usually don’t have the motivation to look up all the possibilities in the dictionary so I give up after the first look-up if it doesn’t pan out and ask people what’d they say .
  2. (-하거든 사실) 야간에는 탁구 강습으로 투잡을 뛰면서 10년 동안 딸의 뒷바라지를 해온 아버지는 오디션 프로그램의 투표 조작…                                        ** I don’t know this word and I heard it right and I was too lazy to look it up so I asked since I highly doubted that he was saying two-job. The narrator really was saying TWO-JOB and it does mean what it sounds like in English. I’m glad I asked anyway because sometimes I actually hear it incorrectly despite my confidence
  3. 탈락한 것. 게다가 방송 말미에 공개된 최종 점수도 석연치 않았습니다. *** Kinda know this word ( i have low familiarity with it) and I heard it wrong lol and I just hate spelling unknown Korean words (I end UP at a dead-end most of the time and it’s annoying and  The site says it’s pronounced as 서견치  but I heard 석현치 and I gave up the investigation as soon as lingoes failed on me or rather the other way around.  I already know this word since it exists in Japanese…
  4. 진상 규명 요구에는 묵묵부답으로 일관해온 CJ E&M. 그런데 지난 10월…
  5. 군소 기획사들을 자회사로 편입해 왔습니다. *** don’t know this word
  6. 조용히 묻혔습니다. 그리고 올해 다시- [Audio changed] (-네 아닌 걸 아니라고-)
  7. 유통을 장악한 대기업들이 문화 산업을 독점적으로 지배할 수 없도록 만든 제도입니다.                            ***I know the word 산업 but couldn’t catch it for some reason. FOR this one I was proud that I caught 대기업 because it sounded like 대겁 or 대겹 to me and that’s because he didn’t say 대! -기! -업! since he doesn’t talk like a Korean textbook/korean dictionary etc. I just magically figured out he was saying 대기업after a 5 second delay. Needlessly to say I couldn’t process the sentence properly with that 5 second delay lol SO i rewound 10 secs on It reminds me of the time I saw some clip from a Korean movie where the guy was slurring/blending all the sounds together like crazy and I figured out the word after a 5 second delay (It was a word I already knew -THE LINE WAS 과한 반능  . If It was a word I didn’t know I’d be shit out of luck…). I never knew you could slur korean that much until i experienced that haha. Stuff like reminds me that I can improve my Korean just by listening.. The first time I heard gangnam style I couldn’t understand PSY because he rapped/sang in this trendy way of enunciating Korean and nowadays I hear it fine since I’ve heard a lot more rapping/singing since then. It’s a matter of getting used to it. Honestly I think the de-gi-up here is pronounced fine/clearly and I just need to listen more. In case you’re curious, I’ve never had this 5-second delay phenomenon for Japanese. I think it’s unique to Korean due to the bacchim/all them vowel sounds/ alotta sounds in general/the ease of slurring the shit out of the word. The closest thing I can think of is the time I rewound this part in a talk/variety show like 10 times and figured out what the person was saying on the 10th rewind lol… bY THE 8th time I wasn’t even really trying to listen or figure out what the person was saying. It was most DEFINITELY NOT MY FAULT for not understanding the person. It was just unclear/bad pronunciation that I decoded from rewinding. cAN’T remember the name of the show or the person since it was such a long time ago.
  8. 실패한 투자의 손실은 과연 누구의 몫일까? ** no idea why i couldn’t catch it. pretty easy stuff.
  9. -동안 워너원은 혹사 논란이 일 정도로 바쁜 일정을 소화했습니다.                               ** I know this word in Korean and I use it all the time in Japanese KOKUSHI. Not to mention the the footage they showed in the show provided context and served as a fantastic hint.However it sounded like 혹산 to me so 혹사 didn’t even enter my mind.
  10. 군소 연예 기획사들이 큰 상처를 입었습니다. *** don’t know this word.
  11. 피해 당사자를 회유해서 문제를 덮고 넘어가기에 바빴습니다.*** don’t know this word… too lazy to deal with all the ways to spell he-yu to look up the word. Not to mention they are 5-6 entries for 회유 as it is
  12. 경연으로 단계별 진출자를 가리는 서바이벌 방식. *** I know the word already but couldn’t catch it for some reason…


1 ___쓰고있는거야

2 증거해보렴 나는 사람을 _________

3 이번 _____잘부탁드리겠습니다

4 모든 ____

5 이번 _____잘부탁드리겠습니다

6 _____해주시면

7 한명이 너무잘되고 ___ 너무 안되면

8 재가_____없지만 그때도 __


Clips 4-8 are hard to understand.

  1. 제가 형들한테 대들어 본 적은 없지만 그 때 또 욱해가지고.. 마지막에 …

​it’s really hard to catch even for a native ..😂

  1. 뭐든 해보려고요. 계속 겁내고 뭐 안 하는 것보다는 부딪혀 보는 게 좋은 거라는 걸 저 스스로도 프로그램 하면서 느꼈고 가장 중요한 거는…
  2. 인심은 곳간에서 나옵니다. 아 왜냐면 한 명이 너무 잘 되고 (그렇지!) 나머지가 너무 안 되면 이게 불화가 이는데- 빅뱅은 안 싸웠니, 좀 싸운 편이었니? 저희는-
  3. 제가 참 형들한테 확 대들어본 적 없지만 그때 또 욱해가지고- 아 마지막이에요 마지막

1 – 당신은 부장검사를 승진하기 위해서 술수 쓰고 있는 거야. 감정을 숨기고 있는 거라고, 맞지?

2 – 나는 사람을 x패거나 때리거나 심지어…

  1. 당신은 부장검사로 승진하기 위해서 술수를 쓰고 있는 거야. 감정을 숨기고 있는 거라고. 맞지?
  2. 증명해 보라우. 나는 사람을 쥐어 패거나 때리거나 심지어 내가 어떤 사람한테 맞을 때도 난 아무런 감정을 못느끼지.
  3. 이번 취조, 잘 부탁드리겠습니다.
  4. 뭐든 해볼려구. 계속 겁내고 뭐 안하는 것보다는 부딪혀 보는 게 뭔가 (inaudible). 가장 중요한 거는…
  5. same as #3
  6. 일단 같이 호응을 해주시면은 저희는 물론이고 ( ??? )님들도 같이 즐겁게 놀다 가실 수 있지 않을까. 레전드 무대 보여드리겠습니다.
  7. 한명이 너무 잘되고 우리(?)가 너무 안되면 이게 분화(?)가… 빅뱅은 안썼네 (?)
  8. 제가 ??? 한테 ??? 적은 없지만 그 때 또 욱해가지고… 마지막에…

Japanese Page-turners! says I read 180-something books read which means that I’ve read at least 200 books in Japanese since I don’t register every single book I read on that site. So in commemoration of me putatively having completed my 200th book recently (not counting manga and if I did, I would’ve reached 200 a long time ago), I will write about them in english. I have NEVER re-read any of the books I’ve read in Japanese so some of the books here are based off my memory from years past. I have a couple books in mind that I want to re-read but I have yet to actually do it. Page-turners are hard to find regardless of the language you’re reading in. Speaking of which, The Martian was a real page-turner but I read it over 9 weeks (I don’t mind torturing myself like that) just because I only wanted to read it for x minutes a day. I read the physical copy for all the books I mentioned (usually from the one dollar section at bookoff in NYC ) with the exception of the first one which I purchased on amazon JAPAN to read on the kindle. I believe a couple of the books or maybe just one of them I mention aren’t available as an ebook.

First up is a book titled “what happened in Korea when they got rid of Hanja.” They stopped teaching hanja in schools in the 70s and then they started teaching it again then they stopped again.

「漢字廃止」で韓国に何が起きたか – 呉 善花
This book is by a Korean lady who currently lives in Japan. First of all, I was curious as to how GOOD her Japanese is since she’s Korean and because she learned Japanese when there was less technology. she got editing and help and all that but she still has to write it. I was impressed of course and learned Japanese from reading the book. Sometimes I got the impression that she wanted to show-off and it felt forced and just unnecessary lol (both in terms of vocab, and complicated/long clauses/sentences). I was glad I was reading this on the kindle. I noticed either in this book or another one of hers, she uses a handful of kanji-words that are very infrequently used in Japan but these same words exists in Korean and are used more commonly in Korean than in Japanese (AT LEAST that’s what I assume since I have seen 피력 ひれき 披瀝   being used in Korean multiple times but I haven’t seen hireki used outside of her books and the JApanese dictionary if my memory serves me) . I thought it was a terrible decision to put in these words when it’s unnecessary since you’re potentially alienating people who can’t read it or don’t know what it means. My impression is that hireki/pireyuk are low frequency words in Japanese and Koraen respectively but hireki is less commonly used than pireyuk. My point here might be completely moot though since I’m not fluent in Korean and I’m not that well read in Japanese compared to Japanese people (Japanese people seem to be really into reading like I’ve heard of people reading 200 books a year or even thousands of them a year and way more than that too…). Maybe they say hireki all the time in the Japanese news for all I know. I picked up on this because I noticed that I ONLY already KNEW the word(s) because I’ve seen it being used in written Korean and NOT in written Japanese though I’m reading a book in Japanese (written by a Korean person).

It was a page-turner for me, purely because it was a subject I was keenly interested in since I learned Japanese then started Korean 4 years into Japanese. I pretty much read all the japanese sites on this topic from googling and I’ve done the same with the Korean Internet. I even read a Korean book about it (a physical book 김병기 – 아직도 한글전용을 고집해야 하는가? ). For this Korean book, I unknown words and drew arcs next to sentence clusters with a red pen while I read and looked up nothing lol. Anyways, this Japanese book did not disappoint since she knows what she’s talking about since she was directly affected by the education policy. One day her elementary school teacher told her class “we don’t have to learn hanja anymore!”

I thought she was off her rockers when she said that Korean people should adapt a mixed writing system like the Japanese people and have kun-yomi readings which I thought was a terrible idea. I think it makes sense to Korean Korean words without sino-background in hangeul. I agree with her point that the multiple readings of Kanji (Japanese origin and Chinese origin) make remembering the kanji easier. Both her book and the Korean book I mentioned thouroughly cover the gamut of the common argument points like “we have no problem communicating verbally, so obviously we don’t need hanja.” Of course she was appalled by that point since from her point of view, the person who said that is completely missing the point of the big picture.

Also I think she had a section in her book explaining Korean sayings or proverbs and there was no hangeul so it was painful to read for me… Besides my preference, as Korean learner to not learn stuff like that in this format, with just the katakana I have no f’in idea what the original phrase is and I obviously won’t remember the explanation she wrote in Japanese. It’s probably even more “who the f cares” to people who know zero Korean. It did not belong in this book! The part of her book that actually matched the title was page-turning and the tangential part on Korean sayings was a real snoozer.

SLAYERS light novels
I especially enjoyed 死霊都市の王―スレイヤーズ (8) (富士見ファンタジア文庫) by 神坂 一

Slayers is the best-selling light novel in Japan or maybe the world. I think that’s heavily attributed to the sheer number of volumes (plus less pirating in the 90s!). I am referring to the main series: volumes 1-15. I remember I read it everyday before going to sleep because it was so effortless and fun to read (at the time I usually only read on my days off).

As the word suggests, Light novels are lighter than regular novels. I never made the connection until I had a blast read the Slayers light novels since the only other light novels I read were suzumiya haruhi and welcome to the NHK (they didn’t feel particularly light). The writing style of Slayers is easy and fun to read compared to regular novels, line spacing is wider so it’s less dense. It gives me enjoyment that regular novels can’t give me but at the same time light-novels can’t give me what regular novels give me. I have to read more stuff written by this author!

The last episodes of Slayers NEXT (anime) was based on volume 8 so it did not disappoint. It does not have a ridiculously long title like the ones being published nowadays. Most of the light novels being published now-a-days don’t appeal to me at all (the general public). I wonder if that was the inspiration for whoever (probably akimoto) that gave this ridiculously song title to the akb48 song 鈴懸の木の道で『君の微笑みを夢に見る』と言ってしまったら僕たちの関係はどう変わってしまうのか、僕なりに何日か考えた上でのやや気恥ずかしい結論のようなもの. . I hate GIMMICKS like this. I would not be surprised if there is a light novel topped this song title in length.

As famous and popular this light novel is, it has typo issues. For some reason when they went to re-print the books they apparently had to type out all the text or do OCR (optoic character recognition). It’s so ridiculous! I literally looked up typos/goshoku at one point lol. I would say that most of the typos are obvious and easy to figure out… i made about 250 anki cards (I took pictures and I didn’t make Anki cards out of everything I looked up since being picky is a virtue for making anki cards ) from the 15 books so the book was at an ideal level of ease/difficulty and I learned a lot of cool words. I bought a couple volumes of the new versions without the intention of reading all 15 volumes since I was interested in reading the parts that related to Slayers NEXT and Xellos. I quickly changed my mind and bought the rest by ordering volumes 1-15 because I found out it’s cheaper to order all 15 volumes that are used and old and the old ones don’t have typo problems. Not sure what the state of the ebook version is… I would assume it has the same typo issues.

for deodorizing old/stinky books, I recommend using newspapers.

I wrote this about the 8th book on dokushometer!

すさまじく面白い! アニメファンには必読!

北朝鮮大脱出 地獄からの生還 – 宮崎 俊輔

I read the majority of the books about North Korea in English and one day I realized that there are books that are written in Korean/Japanese about North Korea that weren’t translated into English and I happen to be literate in Japanese . So I got on amazon and got ’em!

This is a special book since it originally written in Japanese by a Korean-Japanese person who moved to North Korea in his teens and lived in North Korea for 30+ years and defected to Japan. Most books about North Korean defectors are translated from Korean. As you can imagine, his Japanese skills did deteriorate from being cut-off from the world for 30 years and I would assume that he got help from a ghost-writer because there were some big words as well as very specific terms in the book.

The book makes me more grateful about what I have since my life circumstances aren’t as cursed as the author’s. I can’t imagine what it’s like to build a house from scratch! It was an extremely depressing book but it was a page-turner.

This book has been translated into English and published under the title Crossing the River. The author’s name was changed though… I’ve only read a paragraph of the English translation since I got the book for free from amazon when they had a promotion but my impression was that translation was excellent.

北朝鮮 絶望収容所 (ワニ文庫) 安 明哲
This book is written by a North Korean person who worked in the prison camps. This book was originally written in in Korean. It not been translated into English as far as I know. I opted for the JApanese version because it’s available, and cheaper ($6 with shipping maybe? The book was 1 yen or 100 yen etc but the shipping and proxy service adds up) and I’m not even sure if I can buy the Korean version since it’s out-of-print and I don’t know if they ship the used book to America. I even tried to contact the publishing company to ask them to put the book up on google books but their e-mail is dead. The book was depressing and disturbing. I specifically remember skimming the chapter titles before I started reading it and I read this disturbing word. It was 4-kanji compound and I instantly thought that I misread it or misremembered its meaning and so I assumed I was wrong. I didn’t ponder on it long so I never looked it up and just read the book. When I got to that chapter, I found out that I was CORRECT. In that short instant, I assumed I was wrong because I assumed that word wouldn’t belong in the book. It reminds me of this story I read about 9-11 where someone was inside the one of the tall buildings and saw jumpers falling outside their window. However, instead of people, the person saw clothes/suits falling from the sky and just pondered why clothes were falling from the sky since that’s not a common occurrence. Eventually the person made the connection that it’s actually people that they just saw and their brain tricked them into not seeing it for what it

I specifically remember that I read over 200 pages of this book in one day which is probably the most number of pages of Japanese I’ve read in a day. I’ve noticed that some Japanese books have bigger line-spacing for whatever reason or the font is bigger or smaller than usual (ie for some books one page contains 18 lines while other books contain 20- something lines on one page).  This book did not have wide line-spacing and the author didn’t have frequent line-breaks etc so it was very dense. The 200 pages was truly a lot to read for one day.  I changed my plans for the day to continue reading it because it was so riveting. I just had to know what was going to happen NEXT. It reminds me of books about the holocaust since the authors talk about how humans behave when they’re put in these extreme, dire situations.

This is what I wrote about the book on dokushometer

もともと大学時代ではまったく読書しなかったです。大学出て就職してから読書しようと踏ん張ったがいい本を見つけるのが大変でした。どういう経由で北朝鮮にまつわる本に手を取ったのかは覚えていません。一冊読んだら全部読みたくなって英語で書いてある本ほとんど読みました。ある日、また英語に翻訳されてない北朝鮮に関する本の存在に気づきました。それで、この本を読むことになってあらためて日本語を覚えてよかったと思いました。何人も命をかけて脱北してその国の実態や人権に対する犯罪について書いたのは奇跡です。 それらを踏まえると内容が悲惨で読むのがつらくてきつくても読むべしという気持ちになりました。

I also found

And the second volume to be page-turners. It features 2 North Koreans and one of them has their story published in English under the title aquariums pyongyang  which I already read. So half the story was totally new (AND page-turning) and the other half was vaguely familiar (page-turning but not as page-turning) since i read it however many years ago.

  湊 かなえ
Confessions – minato kanae
Her book has been translated into English.

I made 2 posts about this book. I read it after watching the movie so I don’t know if it would’ve been a page-turner if I went into it completely blind. However, the writing style is compatible with me and I’ve enjoyed her other books so I think I would’ve still experienced it as a page-turner.

My dokushometer entry on it


A book in English that I had a similar experience with was YOU on lifetime/netflix. I planned on watching the show for shits and giggles and LAWLS since it seemed like it’d be a fun show to watch. I was more concerned about being entertained by the show than scrutinizing the quality of the show. I expect the WORST when the network is lifetime but the show ended up being much better than I expected haha. I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook after watching the show and the guy they hired did a fantastic job. I personally prefer to watch the show or movie then read the book so that I’m not bored while watching the show or movie.

夏と花火と私の死体 (集英社文庫) 乙一

I can’t remember if his books were page-turners in terms of how long it took me to finish a book. I always go into his books with zero expectations and get sucked into the story from page 1. His writing style is succinct in the best way possible. I feel like he does not waste a single word. That is something that I cannot say about authors very often. I particularly enjoyed the concept of this book because it was unique, amusing, and executed well.

I wrote about it on dokushometer

おすすめします! 題名の物語にすぐ入り込みました。 どう終わるのか知りたくて知りたくてむずむずしてました。 終わりは予想できなかったので満足しています。 伏線もちゃんと張っていたので無理やり どんでん返しを施す感じしなかったです。二番目の物語に関してはちょっと読むのがおっくうに感じたんですけど種明かしがあるので たぶん驚くと思います。

Here are 2 more of his books that I enjoyed. He rarely disappoints me.

暗いところで待ち合わせ (幻冬舎文庫) 乙一

死にぞこないの青 (幻冬舎文庫) 乙一

I wrote about shinizokonai no ao on dokushometer

偶然にもこの本を読んでいた時に主人公と似ている状況に置かれていたのでものすごく感情移入などができました。主人公が先生を分析したところとかに「なるほど」と 頷きながら読みました。こういう人を人って本当にいます。例えば「田先生は僕が何か失敗するのを待ち構えており、ついに僕がちょっとしたミスした瞬間、ほら見たことかとそこをつつくのである」。主人公が最終的にモヤモヤをどう解決するかと期待しながら読みました。 当時の自分の状況を変えることはできなったけどこれを読むことで追体験でモヤモヤを減らすことはできました。。。

A couple authors I connected on a deep level. . I cannot remember if they were page-turners or not but I felt like the authors got me or I got them and I loved their writing styles. It’s the books that make me glad that I’m literate in Japanese.

人間失格 – 太宰 治 – I never would’ve read it if I didn’t watch ame talk. luckily I do!
ALONE TOGETHER (双葉文庫) – 本多 孝好
MISSING (双葉文庫) – 本多 孝好

白い部屋で月の歌を (角川ホラー文庫) – 朱川 湊人

my dokushometer entry:  面白い!最初は設定とか全然ピンと来なかったけど最後まで読んだら分かった。。。目から鱗って感じ。読んでよかった。。

花まんま – 朱川 湊人

my dokushometer entry: 無駄な描写など一切ないです。短篇集で全6話のどれも読む価値があります。あっという間に物語の世界に惹き込まれました。やっぱり、この作家さんとの相性はいいみたいです。 この作家さんの他の著作を読みたいとおもいます

BONUS: My old entries from dokushometer

面白くない。読むのが苦痛。ミステリーとして一応成り立ってるけど読むこと自体が楽しくないから。。ナシ。 ダルくて尺が長い。。。それから異常に読みづらい。私の日本語が下手とか日本語の理解力が低いとかじゃなくて一般人に読みづらい。 読んでいる時、意味がまったく分からないとき もあって 意味がわかるのに一体何と読むのか まったく 見当もつかなくてイライラしたことは多々ありました



つまらない。 完読するんじゃなかった
楽園 (新潮文庫)
つまらない。薄っぺらい 展開はあんまりない。感動はいずこへ? 映画は絶対見ない。


読みやすけりゃ いいってもんじゃない。無難で 読む価値がないと 感じる。読みやすいわりには読むのが面倒くさい。未来の息子は深みが足りなくて途中で飛ばし読みした

There are definitely books I wished I never finished or wished that I started skimming/skipping pages like crazy sooner. The only tip I can give to help you to drop sucky books is to check out negative amazon reviews (there might be spoilers so be careful). There are some terrible books (even if it’s popular or a best-seller or won an award) where the negative amazon reviews are more fun to read than the book.

as you can tell, on the book tracking site I was mostly writing like how people talk on talk variety shows including kansai-ben lol (on lang-8) since I like interesting tv and you can’t avoid kansai-ben if you like laughing your ass off. Besides kansai-ben being fun I think it was because I was getting bored with standard Japanese. On lang-8, I’d literally incorporate words and phrases I heard on the the Japanese drama JIN which is set in the Edo period (some of the stuff you actually can incorporate into written Japanese no problem). This reminds me of something that yoshida from the comedy duo black mayonnaise has said which is that he’s bored and sick of JApanese as a 40-seomthing year old monolingual man. I was totally relating with him on that during my japanese journey before I even hit the double digits for number of years that passed since I started learning Japanese. Of course I don’t truly understand his boredom and angst and whatnot since I have not experienced Japanese for 43 years. On some tv show, he was saying how he says gakieru wa instead of kigaeru because he’s so damn sick of saying it as a very busy comedian who goes on tv very often. That’s just one of the many yoshida-isms since 43 years is a long time. I found some blog with some transcript where he’s talking about it for those who want to read it~


WordPress tells me this is my 200th post so it must be kismet!

oh and here’s a list of  books about north korea that i ranked 4 stars or higher.

This is paradise – Kang, Hyok
Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee—A Look Inside North Korea -Jin-sung, Jang
The Tears of My Soul = written by a north korean spy/agent who killed a lot people on a plane. It was originally written in korean ( I read it in English). I think the korean book or website about her is on lingq ( there’s audio that accompanies the text) because I recall Steven Kaufman mention it on a YouTube video

A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power

The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea’s Abduction Project

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

memoirs from people who have spent time in the political prison camp:

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West – harden blaine + the north korean guy

The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag – Kang, Chol-hwan

Eyes of the Tailless Animals: Prison Memoirs of a North Korean Woman – lee soon ok

Long Road Home: Testimony of a North Korean Camp Survivor- Kim, Yong

more memoirs from north korean people

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story

Stars Between the Sun and Moon: One Woman’s Life in North Korea and Escape to Freedom

Under the Same Sky: A Memoir of Survival, Hope, and Faith -Kim, Joseph

Extensive reading: what convinced me

Language Fixation

Some time in the spring of 2009 I was considering getting back into learning German after a long hiatus. I had taken German in high school, but learned very little. I couldn’t read books, I couldn’t understand TV, and I couldn’t have even a basic conversation.

Nine years before this, I had gone on a couple of business trips to Germany, and at some point I picked up a German copy of Tad William’s “The Stone of Farewell”, a high fantasy novel that I had read already in English. My idea was that when I got home from the business trip I’d sit down and try to read it in German, since I had an intuitive idea that reading should be a good way to improve my language skills.

I got back to Vancouver and sat down with this fantasy novel and a German-English dictionary, and started working on it…

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Five-Year Blog Anniversary: The Story of The Untranslated

The Untranslated

William Blake, Christian reading in his book.

Five years ago on this day I posted my first review here. Since I have managed to keep my few but faithful readers interested thus far, I believe that time has come to tell the story of The Untranslated.

The story began 12 years before the appearance of the blog when I was studying for my Master’s in literature. During my first year, there arrived an oversees guest lecturer in literature and philosophy — the Stanford professor Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht. At the time, at my university knowing English well was cool. Being able to read an English-language book or a book translated into English without a dictionary was extraordinary. We always adored professors with rich English vocabulary and the most native-sounding pronunciation. Those were the signs of great mastery achieved through perseverance and determination by people who spent most of…

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Stuff I will probably never learn in regards to Korean and Japanese

TENON RULES have googled TENON rules for Japanese many a times and I’ve never read it properly. Tenon is characterized by the sound of the reading changing due to adjacent kanji like

amagami or kigi or amagasa or junjodate or ronpa
順序立て, 雨傘 , 木々 ,甘噛, 論破.

This tenon thing really stood out to me when I first started reading novels in Japanese since there would be all those words that I don’t know how to read (I’m unsure of the reading for many reasons including TENON) that I understand. It’s obvious that if you were to look up words just to find out the pronunciation it would suck up a lot of time.

I figured the information about tenon rules might be helpful and whatnot and give me stuff to notice but I can’t get myself to read it to the end. Like I wanted to know when it’s KURAI And when it’s GURAI or maybe it can be both? However, reading the rules is incredibly boring to me and I give up early every time and swear to myself that I’ll just learn on a word by word basis from reading and listening (hearing someone say it in an interesting situation) and hopefully I will internalize the “rules” and know from gut instinct and my vocabulary knowledge whether there is or isn’t tenon. I will say that my probability to guess whether or not there is tenon has improved markedly over the years. Over the years I’ve realized and come to accept that you will never reach a point where you can read Japanese outloud 100% (I personally aim for 90-something% so I’ve already reached my goal!) because there’s always some name or proper noun or some word where you know the word’s meaning but you’re not sure of the reading (I’ll know all the possible readings, possible combinations of those readings with or without the tenon and can make up good guesses) . And imagine if pitch accent was brought into the mix? (my fail rate would go up 50% lol) . Actually I recently saw a god tongue episode (ON THE NETFLIX) that’s relevant to those post. On the episode, they held SHIBAI YABAI GEININ which means comedians with extremely questionable acting skills. One of the geinin in his or 40s (? ) did not memorize his lines and he has bad eyesight so somebody literally held up the notebook with his lines written out in huge japanese text a foot from him while he was acting. It was hilarious since the guy holding notepad was in the frame lol. At one point they do the scene from hanzawa naoki and the geinin has to read all these words that he’s not that familar with and he was struggling to read it on top of his bad eyesight (I think the staff held it up close enough for him to read). So at one point he says 四文字漢字 instead of reading it outloud since he doesn’t know the word. It was some bank term that no one ever says in real life. Also he said 頭取 あたまとり instead of  とうどり (I thought it was  とうとり before I tried to type it. SEE WHAT I MEAN?) and he didn’t know how to read 戯言 so he said ざごん (it has multiple readings ざれごと & たわごと- i even see ぎげん  listed but I’ve never heard or read that reading before )

Not being 100% sure of how to read stuff outloud is normal for Japanese since it’s just the nature of Japanese writing and there are cases where there are multiple ways to read the kanji and the only writer knows the correct answer or maybe his intention for people to read it in whatever way thtey want or he assumes that his true fans would read it the way he wants it lol. I actually read a where the guy extensively about the nature of writing in Japanese
(陰翳礼讃・文章読本by 谷崎 潤一郎- this is definitely not an easy read and it’s one of those books that makes me glad I use anki. I definitely would’ve gotten less out of his book if I hadn’t ankied all these years… He professes his love for wabisabi and talks about writing in Japanese extensively). It’s kinda like expecting to reach a point in English where you know how to pronounce/SPELL every single word in a book correctly and that’s just NEVER happen (maybe if you’re one of those spelling bee champions or those people with the kanji KENTEI 1 lol . ).
I mispronounced Hermione and Sirius’ names until the Harry Potter movies came out.


As much I love the Shiina Ringo song irohanihoheto” (いろはにほへと),
I realized you don’t need to memorize the abc order of Japanese to be good at Japanese. Not knowing the ABC’s would only affect me in places like a Japanese bookstore or Japanese library (and the only paper dictionary I use is an English paper dictionary; even then I use it rarely). I’ve used a paper Japanese dictinoary before and it sucks. Of those 2 places I’ve only been to Japanese bookstores and when I go there I suffer the full consequences of my tenuous knowledge of the abc order of hiragana. I have some sense of the Japanese alphabet like I know 5 hiragana that are in the front, a few before the, a few in the middle, a few towards the end and I know “n ” is the last one. I don’t even remember where I picked up this knowledge. Maybe I remembered bits and pieces of it from TV shows? I have never consciously tried to learn the ABC order for hiragana because I have no interest in it. Sometimes if I go to Book-off, I like check for certain authors and that process is sped up if I knew the Japanese ABC order like back of my hand but I don’t so I struggle with my limited knowledge. I don’t go there often enough to learn the ABC order either. Funnily enough I know the ABC order for Korean consonants and have a vague, incomplete understanding of the ABC order for the vowels. Again, I don’t use paper dictionaries for Korean so I don’t need to know this.


Do you know your 띄어쓰기?

며칠? 몇 일?

Okay so people always say Korean writing is much easier than Japanese because of hangeul but hangeul has numerous spacing rules while Japanese doesn’t even have spacing. I love that about Japanese. If I had to deal with spacing rules on top of hiragana, katakana, kanji, I’d be pissed. I think Mandarin has no spacing rules too. Korean spacing rules are just arbitrary to me. I’ve googled spacing rules for Korean and like TENON Rules for Japanese I could never steel myself to actually read it. I think the site I went on was going to explain 40 of the rules and I couldn’t make it through the first one because I was like who gives a shit. It was one of those rules where they say for xyz you space it EXCEPT when it is ABC. My reasons for not giving a shit is multi-fold. First of all, Koreans aren’t masters of spacing rules either. There are people in Korea who try to make sure their CV’s follow spacing rules perfectly to have their CV’s stand out of from the crowd because a lot of people suck at the spacing rules. Some Korean people who text or post stuff on forum-type of places on the Korean internet insert no spaces or do whatever spacing they feel like. Instead of spelling tests, they have tests where the teacher dictates something and the students have to spell stuff correctly and have the correct spelling rules so it’s impossible to get a 100% if you don’t know all the spacing rules. Some of these spacing faux pas are so wide-spread that people think that the wrong spacing is the correct spacing. So even if you read a lot of Korean you’ll be bombarded with incorrect spacing unless you avoid the internet, texting, etc. I will say that from watching Korean TV I have not picked up the spacing rules because ultimately I don’t remember where they put the spaces since I’m just reading to further my comprehension or out what I’m hearing. It’s kinda like expecting myself to be able to write keyakizaka 欅坂  by hand just because i saw it a few times. The only time I notice Korean spacing is when I’m copying text by typing but I never do that nowadays since I can just take a screenshot or take a picture. In fact, in my very first lang-8 post for Korean I inserted zero spaces because I forgot that Korean has spacing since I never write in Korean. If I were to write something in Korean I’d just insert spaces liberally as I felt like it to make reading as easy and effortless as possible lol…  I’d rather learn how to write a kanji character or a hanja character than remember a spacing rule for hangeul lol…. The most I’ve done for spacing rules is read hangukdrama’s post on it and forget the information in its entirety so it’s like I never read it. I have no interest in it.

My biggest reason for not wanting to learn the stuff that mentioned is that I have better stuff to do with my time.