Arbeit 아르바이트

Hanmadi, “one word,” is a series on Korean language and society, dedicated to exploring Korea one word at a time. 

I’ve really been focusing on my Hanmadi project lately–it’s something a little less personal, which makes me a lot more comfortable with it. This was originally posted there.


A part-time job of the menial and low-hourly-wage variety

From Daum Dictionary:

daum dic meaning 2.png

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A Hungry Historian’s Atlanta

A Hungry Historian’s Atlanta

I posted before about the great time Mr. Kim and I had in Atlanta the weekend before our wedding weekend. While some people might wrinkle their brows at the idea, it was the perfect chance for us to take a few deep and much-needed breaths before plunging into the chaos of a wedding week with guests from around the world.


Before heading to Atlanta, I naturally consulted my facebook network about what we should do there. My uncle suggested the World of Coke; my sister the zoo. Others recommended the aquarium and the botanical gardens. But I was with a historian, so, in the time we carved out between his conference-related activities and my wedding crafting, we did historical things–and, of course, ate a lot of amazing food.

IMG_1093We’d had to get up at 4 a.m. for our flight, so we were happy when the Hyatt Regency Atlanta (not the sort of hotel we usually stay in, but it was a conference) allowed us to check in early, around 10 or 11. After freshening up, we headed out for some brunch at Ria’s Bluebird Café. The food was amazing; unfortunately, my photographs of it are terrible.

Our next stop was right across the street: Oakland Cemetery, founded in 1850 and the final resting place of Margaret Mitchell and several other famous people.

As I’ve noted before, I like to photograph Confederate memorials when I come across them, not out of any misplaced sense of Southern pride because part of me (the part that wants to believe all people are good and reasonable) is always surprised that that’s still a thing. Still, a graveyard isn’t a particularly surprising place to find one. Here’s Oakland’s:


Unfortunately, the African-American section (because people were segregated even in death back when this cemetery saw most of its action) is less marked, apparently because people used “natural markers like trees, shrubs, or wooden crosses” rather than stone, which I’m going to guess was because stone was too expensive or otherwise out of reach for most. (The one grave visible in the section below is a relatively new one.)


After the cemetery, we headed back down town so Mr. Kim could get in on some conference action and I could take a nap and do some crafting, but we headed out again for dinner.


Oysters. Living in the Midwest, we don’t eat oysters, or any seafood really, very often, so we were determined to take advantage of Atlanta’s resources there, in this case, at the Steamhouse Lounge, where the waitress calls you sweetie in true Southern fashion.


Mr. Kim ordered a lobster roll with lobster bisque (good and great, respectively), while I had redfish, which was amazing. (Unfortunately, I’m writing this 2.5 months after the meal, so my descriptions can’t get much more detailed than that.)


We also had some delicious key lime pie for dessert. Basically this place was so delicious and chill that we considered going back our second night in town.


We spent our second day in Atlanta exploring the Sweet Auburn district, home of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr., served. Here’s the sanctuary where he preached:


It was surreal to think that these were the very pews where his family sat, that was podium at which he and his father stood to preach, that this was the room where his mother was shot and killed six years after his death. It was even more surreal to stand beside his tomb, just down the street, at the end of a long series of cascading pools, with the I Have a Dream speech filling the humid air.

IMG_1158 (1)

We also visited the site’s museum and his birthplace:


The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site was the highlight of the trip for me.

I have to say, though, the food was a close second. We had lunch at the Sweet Auburn Market, a historic market remade for the present, where Mr. Kim got some amazing Afro-Caribbean food–oxtail, greens, rice and black-eyed peas–from AfroDish.


He’s still raving about it.

In the end, we managed to eat oysters all three nights we were there as well as some Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, a chain I associate with my college days, and some amazing Vietnamese noodles. We didn’t manage to hit up all the historical sites Atlanta has to offer, but we didn’t leave hungry.

Hanmadi: Multiplayer 멀티플레이어

Hanmadi: Multiplayer 멀티플레이어

Hanmadi, “one word,” is a series on Korean language and society, dedicated to exploring Korea one word at a time.


You might think you know what multiplayer means in Korean because it looks like an English word. Don’t be fooled, though: Konglish can be tricky! This sense of multiplayer has nothing to do with games.

To quote Daum’s Korean dictionary:
multiplayer daum.jpg

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Hanmadi: Hunting

Hanmadi: Hunting

Hanmadi, “one word,” is a series on Korean language and society, dedicated to exploring Korea one word at a time.



If you look up this word in one of the popular online Korean-English dictionaries—Daum Dictionary or Naver Dictionary—you don’t find much, probably because it’s a slang term. Even the regular Korean dictionaries on these sites don’t give you the whole picture.

Naver’s Korean dictionary is sourced from the Standard Korean Dictionary from the National Institute of the Korean Language, a government organization, and, as such and unsurprisingly, has only a crowd-sourced and very indirect definition for the word:

hunting naver 2
Roughly, “making a move on a person you meet on the street.”

Daum’s Korean dictionary, sourced from the Korea University Korean Dictionary, also only has a crowd-sourced definition.

The top four example sentences on Naver’s Korean-English dictionary, however, pull back the curtain completely.

hunting naver.png

So, hunting is what we in English we would call “picking up” (or anyway, trying to pick up), although overall, I think, without the slimy pick-up artist connotations.—Korean Wikipedia with a sarcastic streak—says this about it:

hunting namu 2.png

A rough translation:

When a person approaches another, mutually unknown, for the purpose of meeting the opposite sex. When, like sogaeting [a future post], it’s a situation where you’re meeting someone you don’t know who a friend introduced, or when, like sseom [another future post], there are already romantic feelings between you and the other person, it’s not called hunting.

Occasionally this can happen on the street, public transportation, or other completely open places, but more often it happens at shared tables in drinking establishments, at clubs, at nightclubs, and other places that, tacitly, have this kind of atmosphere.

Generally men approach women, but every once in a while, men encounter a rare woman on the prowl.


If you know English well enough to read this blog, you probably realize that hunting comes from the English word “hunting,” as points out:

hunting pickup namu wiki.png
“While this is called ‘hunting’ in English, too, these days the expression ‘pick-up’ is seen instead.”

Hunting is the gerund of the verb to “hunt,” meaning, to quote the venerable OED, “[t]o go in pursuit of wild animals or game; to engage in the chase.” That’s the first definition, anyway—other definitions, such as 3a, “To search, seek (after or for anything), esp. with eagerness and exertion,” or 4a, “To pursue with force, violence, or hostility; to chase and drive before one; to put to flight; to chase or drive away or out,” take on new weight when viewed in light of the Korean slang meaning.

The OED also tells us that hunt in English comes from Old Teutonic through Old English, with the first written references in English from around 1000 AD. Unfortunately, I’m not sure when it entered Korean–as far as I can tell, there’s no Korean equivalent of the OED (I would love to be wrong, so someone please tell me if you know of one! Naver and Daum are the closest—but as I said, there’s no official definition there!)


Okay, now to the juicy stuff.

The first time I heard the word hunting in the Korean context was on one of my last days teaching young adults at an international trade organization there. Tongue loosened, I suppose, from the impending end of our teacher-student relationship, one kid, Edward, a buggy-eyed 20-year-old with a mop of black hair and huge grin, asked me a question.

“Teacher,” he said, “How can I meet foreign women?”

I had not expected this question, especially not from Edward, whose usual demeanor was mostly Spongebob with a little Barney Fife (and I mean that in the nicest way).

At a loss, I suggested that he go to a bar in Itaewon, Seoul’s “foreigner district,” talk to a girl there, and get her number if they hit it off.

“Like a hunting club?” he asked.

“A what?” For the second time in five minutes, Edward had taken away my words.

So, he and his classmates explained to me about hunting clubs: bars where you go, browse the inventory and, if you see someone you like, exchange numbers. You’d then connect over Kakao, the instant messaging system without which Korean society couldn’t function, and maybe meet up again later.

Korean club
I took this photo in a Korean club back in the day: 2009.

If you’re a Westerner and not familiar with Korean dating culture, this probably just sounds like a pretty normal bar or club to you. In Korea though, probably influenced by both the tradition of being partnered by friends, family or marriage brokers and the tendency for businesses to seriously specialize, there’s a special bar for this kind of thing–although it does happen sometimes at non-specialized bars and clubs, too.

If you want to read more in English, Caraisun, an American living in Seoul, blogged about her experience, and this site also has a little overview.


“hunt, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2016. Web. 18 March 2016.

“헌팅.” Daum Korean Dictionary, Daum, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.

“헌팅” NamuWiki. 14 Aug. 2015. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.

“헌팅.” Naver English Dictionary, Naver, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.

“헌팅.” Naver Korean Dictionary, Naver, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.


Tips and tribulations: how to pass the TOPIK

Tips and tribulations: how to pass the TOPIK

Two months ago, when wedding prep had fully commandeered most of my time and brainspace, I got this (slightly adapted) Facebook message from an Irishman I knew back in the day in Seoul and later in London:

Hey Sara, happy new year! How’s life back in the States? I’m thinking of doing the TOPIK test in April and was looking for some advice. First of all, what would you suggest in terms of the difficulty of TOPIK II without having done TOPIK I (aiming for level 3). Second, what books would you recommend for study? My wife’s sister is coming over in a few weeks time so she could bring some over from Korea. Any advice you have would be really great!

I was super busy but…I’m kind of passionate about this topic, so I responded immediately. I thought, though, that I might adapt my thoughts into a blog post for anyone else looking for advice on how to pass the TOPIK.

TOPIK marker, handed out before the start of the test.

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