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Korean urban legends 
10th-Aug-2006 03:53 am
Dilbert
In UBF I noticed that many Koreans believe in very strange urban legends (like "fan death"). Or do the Korean urban legends just sound stranger for Westerners than their own urban legends? I also remember the belief that dish liquid was very poisonous, so we had to wash up the dishes many times with clear water. (And then of course there were the many UBF internal legends, mostly fabricated by Samuel Lee. These were also easily believed.)
Comments 
10th-Aug-2006 03:25 am (UTC)
LOL. I used to believe that "fan death" urban legend. It was ingrained into me somehow. I think my wife still believes it a little.
10th-Aug-2006 03:29 am (UTC)
Of course, there's an entire web site dedicated to the topic.
10th-Aug-2006 08:45 am (UTC)
The tongue surgery for better English is also funny. I once asked my Korean UBF shepherdess why they all do not speak the German letter R properly, and why they don't even bother and try to speak the German letters properly. They all spoke a Korean rolling R. Then I got the answer that the Korean tongue is not made for speaking a German R. I replied that all the children of the Korean missionaries spoke a correct German R, and the tongue is not involved in speaking a German R, but she insisted in her explanation.

BTW (but this is another topic), another German member made fun of correnting their pronounciation of the German word "Missionar" (which is used frequently because it is used as a title). They all spoke it in Konglish like "Me-shu-nuh", whereas in German it should be pronounced as "Miss-yo-nur". But even though he corrected them thousands of times, they never learned it. It would rather happen that a German learned the bad pronounciation and grammar from them, than a Korean learned from a German. I believe this has to do with the problem that UBF Koreans' "learning mind" is very selective. They learn and accept 100% from superior UBF Koreans, and 0% from people who are not superior or not Koreans or not in UBF.
10th-Aug-2006 08:46 am (UTC)
They learn and accept 100% from superior UBF Koreans

... inculding things like clearing your throat when praying etc.
10th-Aug-2006 11:47 pm (UTC)
Most young UBF Koreans I knew prayed about improving their English speaking ability. Did any other the young UBF Koreans pray about improving their German?

Of course, the older Koreans cared little about improving their English. Does anyone know at what age the Koreans stop caring about learning the native language? Is it when they have enough to be able to speak the UBF buzz words?
11th-Aug-2006 01:30 am (UTC)
Does anyone know at what age the Koreans stop caring about learning the native language?

In our chapter, they learned German with one goal, to pass the DSH (German equivalent of the TOEFL) for entering the university. Without DSH, they could not be accepted as students and could not get a visa. Also, they were only recognized by the other Korean missionaries after passing that test. But immediately after they had passed the test, they stopped learning.

Most had a very reduced vocabulary. Only Kaleb Hong was a little bit better in that regard, but his pronounciation did not improve, but rather declined.

In the beginning, Birgit Pierce (who was sent out from Heidelberg to US) made a German course for the first UBF missionaries there. She put much time and effort into that and did not only try to teach German language, but also German culture. However, to her surprise, her efford was not appreciated, but she was rather treated as an enemy, because she tried to teach something to the Koreans. Teaching was supposed only to go from Koreans as teachers to Germans, not the other way around. I heard that story from another shepherdess who was with Birgit at that time.
12th-Aug-2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
Does anyone know at what age the Koreans stop caring about learning the native language?

Some linguists believe that one cannot acquire another language fully after certain age. It is called critical age theory. For example, when a child comes to America with his parents from Korea, he can learn and speak English as fluently as a native speaker. But his parents will never be able to speak English as fluently as he no matter how long they live in America. They will always speak English with Korean accent. I saw one American missionary family on TV when I was in Korea. The child of the American missionaries spoke Korean very fluently like any other Korean native speaker. But the parents always spoke Korean with English accent.

When I came to America, I had already been studying English about 8 years. So I had no problem reading and comprehending anything written in English. But I had a great difficulty in listening comprehension and speaking/pronunciation. I was not the only one who had the difficulty. I think the reason is that listening comprehension and speaking involve learning phonetics and phonemes of English while reading and writing do not involve learning phonemes. Critical age theorists think that a person cannot learn phonemes after certain age. The result is that one cannot improve phonetics even though he gets tongue surgery. Many Korean people who are crazy about learning English should consult a linguist who is an expert in the critical age theory before they start to cut their tongues.

There used to Tuesday English training session in Chicago UBF. The most dreadful part of the training was that you had to read Samuel Lee’s ridiculous message over and over and over again. You also had to say from time to time that you had never seen such a wonderful message in your life. I was sitting there one time listening to all the ridiculous Samuel Lee’s theories on linguistics. I never went there again. Instead I started to listen to News Radio AM780 whenever I had time to do so. But some young missionaries still kept on going to the training. I can tell you that none of them improved their English even a bit. I am not trying to be so arrogant here but when I compared my English to all the young missionaries trained by Samuel Lee, I had to conclude that exposing my ears to an American new radio was much better than exposing my ears to Samuel Lee’s ridiculous message through his stupid method.

Since UBF Korean missionaries are living in America, they have free and easy access to American phonemes and phonetics. I took the access. But when Samuel Lee was alive in Chicago UBF, he even controlled the access to phonemes and prescribed linguistic methods based on his stupid method. The result is that he messed up all Korean missionaries English. No Korean missionaries in Chicago can speak/read/write English properly even though they have lived in America more than 20 years. They even speak in Korean when their American sheep are around them! This is the result of bad influence by Samuel Lee who made the Korean missionaries think that his method was far superior than any other methods in the world. So Samuel Lee even used English training to strengthen his authority as a cult leader.
12th-Aug-2006 07:52 pm (UTC)
I think there are two different phenomena involved. One is that learning to distinguish the different phonemes of the language happens in a very early age, even before the children start to speak. There are certain phonemes in English that do not exist in Korean and vice versa. The possible phonemes build a wide spectre, and the used letters are a very limited discrete part of it which will be different in any language. This feeling for the proper phonems is only learned as a kid. Another phenomenon is that we are learning slower in higher age, and do not learn so deeply, i.e. we forget easier. Vocabulary and grammar is harder to memorize if you are older (though you can compensate this a little bit by better learning techniques and better understanding of grammar). But I also noticed it is different for different people. For instance, most Germans do not speak a proper Russian R, but I have no problem though I never heard or spoke Russian as a child. I think that you *can* learn foreign phonemns even as an adult, but you need some general feeling for sound and language, and the good will to learn. However, I noticed the UBF Koreans were not even *willing* to learn the German R. Since people understand them with Korean R, they believe it is not necessary. They don't trouble and take pains to have the correct pronounciaction. Generally, they don't trouble doing any things that are not demanded by the UBF leaders. Also, the problem is that the UBF Koreans are permanently together in the UBF center and influence each other; it's like inbreeding. Because they all speak the same bad Konglish, they believe it's normal and they need to bother. Plus, they have a strong determinedness to not learn or accept anything from their "sheep" and I assume this unconciously extends to the area of language as well.

One thing that is also typical for UBF is that they do not learn the language *before* they go to a mission country, when they are young, but in an old age where it is already difficult. Since I wanted to go to Russia as a missionary, I attended a weekly Russian language course. But even that was considered too much waste of time by my UBF Korean shepherdess, she told me to stop attending the language course and concentrate on Campus mission in Germany; later when I would be sent out to Russia "in God's time" I could start learning Russian "by faith" (now I assume they never would have sent me to Russia anyway). Compare this to Hudson Taylor who immediately started learning Chinese *in England* already after he decided he would go to China. By the way, he also started learning Greek, Hebrew, and Latin in order to better understand the Bible - I have never heard that *any* UBF Korean learned *any* of these languages.
30th-Oct-2006 03:11 am (UTC) - astigmatism from reading in a moving car
I'm not sure if this myth is of Korean origin, but my wife won't let my kids read in the car. Why? Because her friend from Korea visited recently and told my wife that her eye doctor in Korea told her that she got astigmatism from reading in a moving car.
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