I read this Korean ebook months and months ago ( I think it’s 공지영… too lazy to check. I’m never gonna read another book by this lady? ) 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 behind the text. Not only that Imagine reading texts between 2 people and the cellphone doesn’t tell you who said what ( no blue/green color differentiation or text justification etc)… dealing with that bs is always worse in korean than English. Reading texts and Thinking about this and that in an effort to mind-read 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 interpreted 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 statementnt, 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 twice 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 just 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.
OMG THERE’S A BILLINGUAL version
wish i had that version from the get-go 😦 for reals. I’d learn so much more and I’d feel so much more motivated and I’d have the option to read the English first if it gets unbearably vague and cryptic and confusing . i will avoid thsi lady like the plague then lol.
At least with japanese books I can read the 1star reviews on amazon japan and commiserate with japanese peeps but no one reads in korea so there are barely any reviews on the book and the ones there are 4-5 stars so i am not reading them. there’s only lotsa reviews if the book is really popular. yes24 site!