The importance of speaking Korean

I have always been considered an excellent Korean-speaker for someone who came to Canada at the age of 5.  I never really knew what it was about me that kept me quasi-abreast of the language, even as my peers’ Korean got worse as we got older.

I think my mother would credit my Korean as a product of forcing me to go to Korean school on Saturdays.  I always thought it was because I spent at least an hour every week watching Korean dramas with my family.

When I was an early teen, I went through a phase when I ignored my Korean heritage and tried to blend in as much as I could.  I didn’t see how speaking Korean would help me at all in this land of English.  I knew that speaking French would help me get jobs, but as far as I could see, speaking Korean would only help me get jobs in Korea, or jobs with Korean people in Canada.

To be honest, I don’t think I even now see the use of speaking Korean in the professional environment.  Unless there’s some very slight chance that my lab has a collaboration with a Korean university, I doubt that I’ll be using Korean at work.  I also sincerely doubt that noting that I speak “fluent Korean” on my resume will help me get any job in Canada; if anything, it may even hinder my chances at an interview.

However, recently, I’ve seen the use of speaking Korean.

This year, I have taken on an administrative role in my church’s summer group mission to Whitedog independent nation.  I’m not going to go into what mission truly is and how it isn’t going to “convert” people (I’ll save that for another post).  In this capacity, I’ve had to liaise a lot with the Korean-speaking adults of my church and business owners in the Korean-Canadian community.

My Korean is actually quite poor.  I left the country when I was 5, so I sound very much like a 5 year old when I speak.  I can’t undertand most business terms, and definitely no technical terms.  However, I am able to introduce myself and ask people for information, and not sound like a jackass when I speak.

I guess it’s some sort of gift that I never really recognized before.  I just want to thank my parents for forcing me to go to Korean school so that I can do God’s work in a way that many people can’t.


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  • June 2009
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