K-Pop Starter Kit: A Crash Course in Hangul Vowels

Personally, I find Korean vowels slightly easier than consonants in terms of speaking because they’re a *little* more straightforward. In English, the pronunciation of each vowel varies wildly depending on the word and there’s not always a logical answer. Korean vowels, on the other hand, tend to have one specific sound (with a few exceptions). However, I think this post might make things trickier since I need to use a lot of Romanization. Remember when I said Koreans sometimes Romanize the same word or letter in different ways? This is especially true with vowels. So I’m going to try my best to provide the official spelling along with all the other ones you’ll probably see, and once again I’ll mostly be using K-pop idols’ names as examples. But just like last time, please remember that not every name I show you is going to be Romanized the “correct”way (even though they’re the “official” spellings idols and their companies use.)

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K-Pop Starter Kit: A Crash Course in Hangul Consonants

I mentioned this in my last column post, but I’ll say it again: Hangul is an incredibly essential part of the Korean language. It was created by King Sejeong during the Joseon Dynasty as a way for all Koreans to be able to read and write, and it’s one of the reasons why he’s such a beloved and prominent historical figure in South Korea today. It’s so important there’s even an official federal holiday for Hangul Day every October. So if you want to learn Korean on any level, you absolutely have to study Hangul – making it the perfect place for us to start. There’s a lot to cover, so I’ve divided everything into two posts: I’ll be focusing on consonants this time, and then vowels the next. However, it’s still going to be a LOT of information to absorb in one or two sittings. You might feel overwhelmed by everything at first – I know I did when l started out – but don’t worry too much. It typically takes a few hours to get the basics of Hangul down, but I promise it’ll make everything miles easier going forward!

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Knee Jerk Reaction: “Permission to Dance” by BTS

BTS sure knows how to strike while the iron is hot: “Butter” is still going strong with no signs of slowing down, but now they’ve added “Permission to Dance” to the mix. Their third English single is a happy tune specifically meant to spread hope and cheer in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it looks like it’s working. We’ve all been needing something to lift our spirits – especially in South Korea where cases have risen significantly – so “Permission to Dance” is proving to be a timely mood booster that definitely fits the bill. It’s no surprise that it’s been another smashing success for BTS these past couple of weeks.

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Knee Jerk Reaction: “Weekend” by Taeyeon

I don’t really follow K-pop soloists as closely as I do K-pop groups, but I always love listening to Taeyeon. And one of the major reasons why is because her discography is so diverse and interesting. Though she certainly has her own unique artistic color and flair, her voice is also versatile enough to suit many different styles. All of her songs are quite distinctive, and I personally believe no two sound alike. I wasn’t expecting her to drop a summer single, but “Weekend” is an absolutely delightful surprise. While she doesn’t always go for the pure pop tracks, its bright and refreshing sound is such a natural fit for her that I’m genuinely surprised she hasn’t been making music like this all along.

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Knee Jerk Reaction: “Beam Beam” by Jeon Soyeon

(G)I-DLE’s leader and resident composer Jeon Soyeon is the latest female idol to make her solo debut. Well, she’s dropped a few digital singles before… but this is the first time she’s had an official fully-promoted solo release with a mini-album and everything. Plus she’s the first (G)I-DLE member to get one, so it’s all very exciting. I always find idols’ solo stuff really interesting, because I’m so curious about what music they want to make and images they want to show outside of their groups. Soyeon is very talented and versatile, so I wasn’t sure what direction she would take. To be honest, “Beam Beam” isn’t necessarily what I was expecting – but it’s a great choice that highlights her unique qualities as both an artist and as a person.

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Knee Jerk Reaction: “Tear Drop” by SF9

Now that I’m officially on summer break, I can FINALLY start checking out July comebacks. (After promotions are already over… SIGH) First up is SF9, a group that’s quite near and dear to my heart these days. I’ve been following them since their debut, and I even went to a fan meeting they had in the U.S. way back when they were rookies. As time went on, I realized how underrated they were and started to pay extra special attention to them. And then this year they went on Kingdom, which just made me even more attached. I just thought it was such a great opportunity for them because they truly tapped into their creative side – and in my opinion, they had some of the most stunning performances. While I’ve always liked SF9 and thought their music, this latest comeback shows me that their participation in Kingdom definitely helped them become even better.

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K-Pop Starter Kit: 5 Beginner Tips for Learning Korean

Though I’m including an introduction to Korean as part of my K-pop Starter Kit, I don’t believe knowing or speaking it is necessary in order to be a K-pop fan. I’m nowhere near fluent, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself for over five years now. That being said, the reason I made it a monthly topic is because I think people who spend a lot of time listening to K-pop could easily become interested in studying Korean. So, these posts are intended to serve as a starting point for those who want to learn. Since I’m going to be covering some basics of the Korean language, I thought I’d start by sharing some information and advice from my own experiences that I think could be helpful for beginners.

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Katherine’s K-Pop Recap: July 12-18, 2021

A summary of the news, current and upcoming comebacks, charts and music show wins, and more!

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I’m on Summer Break!

As regular readers will know, I currently work as an elementary school English teacher in South Korea. Yesterday was the last day of the first semester in my city, so i’m officially on summer break until September!!! Unfortunately, I only have about two weeks of actual vacation… I still have to go to school for the rest and do some work like summer camp and preparing for the second semester. BUT, I will have a lot more free time than I normally do! And I plan on investing a lot of it on some projects for this blog, so I thought I’d drop a quick update and let you know what’s going to happen.

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