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Trump and Moon are the most Dovish Presidents Ever on N Korea, and Kim will Still Give Them Nothing

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This is a repost of an essay I wrote earlier this month for The National Interest. My argument is that Kim Jong Un is passing up his best chance for a deal for years, maybe decades, to come. Both Moon and Trump are extremely unusual, and favorable, counterparties for the North.

Most South Korean and US presidents have been either hawkish or very hawkish on North. Doves haven been rare – two SK presidents between 1998 and 2008. But neither of them ever went as far or talked as détente-ish as Moon does. Similarly, Trump is a huge outlier for US presidents on North Korea. He has made a far greater and more personal outreach effort than ever before.

And that these two dovish presidencies currently overlap is unique. This is a fantastic alignment for North Korea and almost certainly won’t last. If Pyongyang really wants a deal, this is the time to go for it.

Instead, they have played Trump for a fool – getting the legitimating photo-ops with POTUS while giving up nothing – and been surprisingly cold toward Moon’s repeated outreach. As so often, it’s their way or no way at all.

Expect hawks to cite this behavior in a few years to justify a much tougher line on NK. The missed opportunity between 2018 and 2020 will be seen on the right and center as proof that NK doesn’t want a deal, even under very favorable circumstances.

The full essay follows the jump:



If the North Koreans truly want a deal with their primary opponents – South Korea, Japan, the US, and the West – they are missing an exceptional window of opportunity, right now, in the overlapping presidencies of Donald Trump in America and Moon Jae-In in South Korea. Trump and Moon are the most dovish, on North Korea, presidents of their respective nations in the history of US and South Korean interaction with North Korea. And that their presidencies overlap at this moment is a downright unique opportunity for the North. For a brief moment, North Korea enjoys a dovish, pro-engagement presidency from both its traditional major opponents. If Pyongyang wants a deal, now is the time to go for it.

Traditionally of course, the US and South Korea have been quite hawkish on North Korea. Until 1987, South Korea was a dictatorship, and its strongmen were predictably anti-North Korea. They sought to build a South Korean national identity against North Korea, and the very first page of the South Korean constitution denies North Korea’s existence and lays sovereign claim to its territory. From 1998 to 2008, South Korea had its first liberal presidencies ever. These leaders were pro-engagement and dovish. One, Kim Dae Jung, even won the Nobel Peace Prize for his outreach efforts known as the Sunshine Policy. But even these presidents never went as far in their Northern solicitation as the current one, Moon Jae-In.

Similarly, all US presidents prior to Trump were reliably hawkish on North Korea. Indeed, the US has frequently been more hawkish on North Korea than South Korea has been. Congress particularly has strongly supported the continuing sanction, deterrence, isolation, and containment of North Korea. And today, except for Trump himself, official Washington continues to be quite hawkish. Trump’s efforts have broadly been dismissed as amateurish photo-op diplomacy aimed a winning Trump a Nobel Peace Prize or the 2020 election.

This long history of Southern and US confrontation, with the long-standing goal of Southern-led unification along the lines of German unity in 1990, makes the current moment genuinely unique.

Moon is sincerely and deeply committed to a breakthrough. He has spoken so aggressively about reconciliation that he was once criticized as the ‘foreign minister of North Korea.’ His outreach efforts and summitry have been so enthusiastic that South Korean conservatives routinely attack him as a North Korean sympathizer, and conspiracy theories are everywhere on the right here that Moon is Marxist anxious to betray the Southern republic. Moon has suggested that North and South Korea form a ‘peace economy,’ and that this inter-connected zone be directed against Japan, the real national enemy of all Koreans. Moon has continued to push against the UN sanctions regime, constantly testing its limits, looking for opt-outs and carve-outs, regularly lobbying the US and Europe to roll-back sanctions, and so on. Moon was so aggressive on this that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo purportedly threatened to sanction South Korea if Moon persisted.

Since the Moon administration took power, I have attended multiple conferences at dovish think-tanks like the Korean Institute for National Unification or the Jeju Peace Institute characterized by an extraordinary the willingness to bend over backward for inter-Koreas reconciliation. The enthusiasm and desire on the left here are real and deep; I wonder if the North Koreans see this given how brusquely they dismiss Southern solicitations.

Trump too has launched his own mini-revolution of North Korea policy. He has meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un three times, something none of his predecessors ever did and only one (Bill Clinton) even vaguely contemplated. He routinely calls Kim his friend, speaks well of his leadership, and even said that he and Kim were ‘in love.’ Trump has walked inside North Korea. He routinely complains that South Korea is a security free-rider on the United States, and he seems to have a particular dislike for the South. The rumor on the East Asian conference circuit now is that if Trump is re-elected he will seek to pull US forces out of South Korea altogether in his second term. Certainly he appears willing to trade or swap with the North far more than his predecessors were. Trump may not think of himself as a dove; in 2017, he famously threatened the North with ‘fire and fury.’ But since his 2018 U-turn to reach out to Kim, he has, in practice, been a dovish engager – looking to strike a deal with the North while also talking down the South.

This confluence of doves is an important moment for the North. It is as fragile as it is unique. Moon’s popularity is low, under 40% now. He faces legislative elections next April. If the right wins, it will stymie Moon’s Northern outreach, as Moon has made no effort to recruit center-right support for his program. Trump too is in trouble. He may desire outreach to the North, but no one else in Washington Republican or Democratic establishments seems to. Trump is practically alone on this, and if he is impeached, resigns, or is defeated next year, his successor will almost certainly ‘snap-back’ to a hawkish posture.

So if North Korea really wants a deal with the outside world, now it the time. Circumstances will not be this propitious again for a generation. Trump and Moon are both dovish outliers. Worse, hawks will claim future vindication if the North does not use this current window to make a deal. A few years from now, hawks will claim that if the North really wanted a deal, it would have reached for one in that unique 2018-2020 window. Because Pyongyang balked in even those uniquely favorable circumstances, that is proof the North does not want a deal at all. Outreach, then, is a fool’s errand, and there is no choice but to hem North Korea in indefinitely. One hopes Pyongyang can see this hawkish interpretation coming, because relations will get much worse soon if the North gives us nothing during this unique moment.

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University




Korean Language Study Methods and Plans

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If you’re looking for some Korean language study methods, then you’ve come to the right spot!

In this article, we’re going to show you how to choose the best course and get some serious Korean skills.

Let’s get to it!

Young girl in graduation clothing

When using this guide, you can read through it from start to finish, or jump ahead to the area that interests you most.

How to Use This Guide

How to use this learn Korean guide

We’ve done our best to make this guide as comprehensive as possible, but you may not need to read all of it! The main goal should be to cover four simple steps:

  1. Specify goals
  2. Pick a strategy
  3. Choose content
  4. Evaluate effectiveness

Let’s do this!

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Specify Korean Language Goals 

The million-dollar question is: Why do you want to learn Korean?

You should have a specific idea of what you want to do with the language. Once you know this, you can choose your strategy.

For instance, maybe you just want to use Korean to speak with close friends and have conversations. In that case, your strategy would be to concentrate more on everyday listening and speaking practice.

Or maybe you want to become a document translator for the sports industry. In that case, you’d want to focus on reading, writing, and vocabulary that are geared towards sports.

In any case, when you have a goal in mind, you can go through the process of making it more specific. It will only help you succeed in the end!

Here are some killer goal examples:

  1. Have a 10-minute conversation with a native Korean about Starcraft within 6 months
  2. Read the full “Deathnote” series of comic books and understand 80% of the content
  3. Order makgeolli at the neighborhood restaurant and buy a round of drinks for friends
  4. Marry your Korean partner and speak Korean to the in-laws at the wedding next year
  5. Watch an episode of Pororo without subtitles
  6. Understand all the lyrics to your favorite KPOP album by the end of the year and be able to translate them into English!
  7. Before departing for Korea, be at the point where you’re able to comfortably order in restaurants, take taxis and go about daily errand while conversing only in Korean
  8. Sing a full song in Korean at your next company outing with the boss
Learn Korean so you can watch Pororo

Pororo hopes you can watch his show without subtitles someday!
Photo: Republic of Korea

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Each of these goals is very different, but they all have one thing in common: they are SPECIFIC!

Why don’t you take a quick second and write down your goal for learning Korean? Use this template.


Learn Korean Goal Template

Here’s an example of this template in use. This might be a good goal for a movie lover:

Learn Korean Goal Movies

The good thing about this goal is that it’s clear and specific. You have an end in mind, and a deadline to get there. This will help you smooth out those peaks and valleys of language learning motivation.

Pick a Learning Strategy

Learn Korean choose a strategy

Now that you’ve got a goal in mind, it’s time to pick out a strategy.

Your strategy should lead you to your goal through a clear path. It is the set of actions that you will take each day to get you to where you want to be with your Korean skills.

Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • Do you need to learn formal vocabulary?
  • Will slang be useful for you to study?
  • How good does your writing need to be?

The good news is, some Korean courses already have a strategy. In that case, you need to decide if it will work for you. You may only need parts of that strategy, or you may have to combine multiple strategies.

To highlight this, we’ll look at two example situations:

Example #1

Let’s say your goal is to read a “Deathnote” comic book (#2 above). In that case, your strategy isn’t going to require you to learn a lot of academic vocabulary and grammar.

You also aren’t going to need to a lot of speaking practice since you’ll mainly be reading comic books. If you want to fast track your studying, you’ll want to either find or design a program that will get you up to speed with comic book lingo as quickly as possible.

In that case, a Korean grammar course with an additional stack of comic book-heavy vocabuarly flash cards will be a solid strategy.

Example #2

Let’s try another example situation. In this case, you want to be able to go throughout your normal day only speaking Korean (#7 above). You’re going to need speaking and listening skills

Think strategy here. What kind of language will be necessary to talk with Koreans in everyday situations?

When choosing what to focus on for listening and speaking, you can use the 80/20 Principle.

20% of the Korean language is used 80% of the time

These pea pods use 80/20 all day long
Photo: Isabel Eyre

The 80/20 Principle is a law written by Vilfredo
 Pareto, where he showed that 80% of the wealth in a given society was held by 20% of the population. The
 law was also found to hold up in areas outside of economics. For example, Pareto noticed that in his garden, 80% of the peas were being produced by only 20% of the peapods. Or you might notice that 20% of a language is used 80% of the time.

The 80/20 Principle in general can be summarized as: 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.

Therefore in language learning, you can select the most important and relevant materials and focus on the 20% that give 80% of the results.

To get to your goal of doing daily errands and routines in Korean, applying the 80/20 Principle to the material you choose will move things along nicely.

Think about it. In English, about 300 words make up about 65% of the spoken language. The same thing goes for Korean! Find the most commonly spoken words and move ahead confidently with your strategy.

Matching your strategy with your goals will make life a lot easier for you.

With a goal in place and a strategy ready to implement, we’re ready to look at the various types of Korean language learning content available.

Choose Korean Course Content

Choose Korean course content

Goal. Check!

You know where you want to be.

Strategy. Check!

You know what plan of action will get you there.

Next, let’s talk about choosing the right Korean language content. This is a hugely critical piece of the puzzle. The content should match your strategy.

Without the right choice, we’re often unhappy with the results. One year of studies could pass by and we’d still be unable to do much of anything useful in Korean!

One of 90 Day Korean’s students came to us because he wanted to learn to speak. Previously, he had been studying Korean at a famous university in Korea (KAIST) for a year. He had even passed the Level 3 Korean TOPIK exam.

The problem was, even after all of that studying, he could barely muster a word at our meetup!

When he did speak, he was only able to toss in a word here and there– it was as if he couldn’t figure out the proper way to say what he wanted in a Korean sentence. All those months of academic study had gotten him to into his head and he wasn’t able to use what he knew. When asked why he decided to take the TOPIK exam, it was clear he didn’t need it for any specific reason. He just wanted to be able to speak Korean and thought that would help get him there!

Choosing Korean content shouldn't be a gamble

Don’t leave your Korean study content up to chance!
Photo: clry2

How about one more example?

Have you ever heard someone who is using English as a second language use a sentence like this in English?

“Yes, that time would be appropriate for me

What he meant to say was:

“Yes, that time would be good for me

Most people would probably use the second one in English, instead of the first. It sounds more natural. But there are times when you would use the word “appropriate” in order to be more precise.

Do you need to learn the word “appropriate” in Korean? Well, that depends on what your goals are.

The moral of the story is that the Korean language learning content you choose should match your goals and strategies. Simple as that!

If you do opt for free Korean courses, make sure you follow one that follows a solid strategy. Don’t hop around from site to site! If there is no course outline provided, perhaps you could interview some friends and come up with an outline for yourself based on what they think is most important.

There is so much information on the Korean language out there to sort through, and it’s hard to figure out what you need if you’re not familiar with the language. For motivation’s sake, it’s important to get it right early on.

Make sure that whatever content you choose, it should fit in with your strategy and goals.

Knowing that, let’s get right into the different course types so you can make the best choice. While some of these options are only available to those living in Korea, you may be able to find alternatives or language classes in your area.

Let’s jump right into it!

TOPIK Korean Proficiency Test

One strategy for studying Korean is preparing for the TOPIK. It stands for “Test Of Proficiency In Korean”.

It sounds quite formal, doesn’t it?

Well, that’s because it is!

The TOPIK is a serious test. For most Korean language learners, preparing for this test isn’t their idea of “fun”. It’s a rigorous and intense exam focused on grammar, listening, reading, and writing.

What about speaking, you ask?

There is currently no speaking portion to the TOPIK.

Make sure you plan your Korean study accordingly!

So why would someone plan to take a test like the TOPIK? There are plenty of good reasons. Let’s go over a few:

  1. To work at a Korean company
  2. To attend a Korean university
  3. To become a Korean resident
  4. To have some kind of study structure
  5. Bragging rights
  6. Rate their Korean skills
  7. Love for test taking

You can study at Sogang University after you pass the TOPIK!
Photo: George Fox Evangelical Seminary

Now that you know some reasons why people take the TOPIK, let’s take a look at the test structure in greater detail.

As you can see in the chart below, there are two different TOPIK tests (TOPIK I and TOPIK II). You’ll take one of the two tests, and be graded according to your score from those tests.

TOPIK Korean Test Structure

TOPIK Structure
Source: TOPIK website

Based on your score, you’ll receive a certificate for one of the six evaluation grades below.

TOPIK Korean Test Scoring

TOPIK Scoring

You’ll need to sign up for the TOPIK ahead of time. Registration typically opens 1 – 2 months before the actual test date. Here is the example of the exam schedule for 2015.

TOPIK Korean Test 2015 Schedule

TOPIK 2015 Schedule

For those of you who are impatient, you’re not going to like this news! Test scores are announced 1 – 2 months after the test is completed. The results for tests that are offered in Korea only are announced sooner since there is less to grade. Try not to think too much about it!

If you want more detailed information, stop by their site at

So you’re probably wondering why the TOPIK is listed as a way to learn Korean.

Well, it’s not exactly a course in itself.

However, keep in mind that the TOPIK does follow a structure and format. Some people use this as a guideline for what Korean they should learn. You can download previous tests for free and study the reading, vocabulary, grammar, listening, and writing.

There are also numerous textbooks, online courses, university prep classes, and academy courses available to help you prepare for the TOPIK.

A word of caution about using the TOPIK as a Korean study plan. It’s dangerous to use the TOPIK as a default strategy if you haven’t outlined your goals. The reason is, some of what’s studied in the TOPIK won’t be used in your daily life. If that’s the case, you’ll feel like you’re learning efforts are a waste of time. Likely you will become less motivated and give up on Korean.

It’s much better to figure out what you want in the end, and then make sure the TOPIK is going to get you there.

Overall, if you love the challenge of a test or you want to make Korea more of a permanent home for yourself, the TOPIK may be the right move for you.

What are your reasons for studying for the TOPIK?

Onto our next study method!

University Courses

For students in Korea who want to learn Korean, studying at a university is one of the options available for those who want to dedicate a large amount of time towards studying in a structured way. Depending on the course, students can apply for a C-3 (short term study) visa or a D-4 (general student) visa and get ready to hit the books!

Advantages of Studying at a University

The main advantage of studying at a university is that it provides structure and focus. Trying to learn a language in the evening after work is difficult for a lot of people as they are often tired and just want to relax, or they have other plans that get in the way of language studying. This applies to people who study on their own and also applies to students who take an evening course.

Studying at a university also allows you to dedicate a large amount of time to studying a language and the quality of education is normally higher than it would be in other cases. If you have a great private tutor for 1:1 studying, then you are very lucky. Finding a reliable and effective private tutor or a quality free course can be very hit-or-miss. At a university, it is quite possible that your teacher is one of the leading teachers in Korea and it is almost certain that they are highly qualified and experienced.

Studying at a university also helps you meet other like-minded people who can help you practice the language outside of the classroom. You will also make some great friends! Your classmates can give you more confidence as you will hear them trying and making mistakes. This means you will have less pressure than if you are talking with native Koreans where you might sometimes feel as though every mistake is being scrutinized.

Disadvantages of Studying at a University

Cost is a major factor as not only do you have to pay the tuition fee, but also you forego earning any money while you are studying. This can make studying for a prolonged time very expensive. Working on a student visa is prohibited unless you have been a student for longer than six months so even getting a part-time job may not be an option.

As your class will be made up of other students, you might pick up some of their bad learning and speaking habits which can hinder your progress when you learn Korean at a university. However, this point can be negated by ensuring that you practice speaking with a native Korean regularly outside of class to correct your mistakes. You can also mitigate this problem by sitting next to students who are of a different nationality than you as they are less likely to make the same mistakes (sitting next to Japanese students is a good idea as they usually have clear pronunciation and Japanese grammar is similar to Korean grammar).

How to choose a university

Cost is a factor, but most universities charge a similar price for their programs. Location and the program’s length and start dates might also limit your choices. The focus of the program is also important as some programs are more focused on speaking (such as Sogang University) whereas others are more focused on grammar which may be more useful if your reason for studying is to pass the TOPIK exam.

Reading the university websites might not provide you with much more information than the general course curriculum so visiting the university, getting feedback from other students, and trying to get a feel for the university will help you decide which university is best to study at. If you are not in Korea then try looking for student reviews on youtube (such as this one about Yonsei and Ewha Universities).

Ewha Womans University

Listen to people’s reviews of universities in Korea, such as Ewha Women’s University

The quality of the books that are used is important and can also be a good indicator of the quality of the course. If the program hasn’t been updated for ten years then it might not be the best place to study, and it might not have the most motivated teachers. In other words, if you see an old DOS-based Windows computer with a green screen on the front cover of the class textbook, then run for your life!

As the atmosphere is very important when studying, you should definitely try and find a university that matches your personality and language goals if you want to succeed on your university course.

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Hanguk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS)

Hanguk University of Foreign Studies (Known in Korea as 외대) is well known for its language programs, so it comes as no surprise that they also have a Korean language program. Their courses have six levels and run in the mornings from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Fees may be wavered for exchange students.

Sogang University

Unlike many of the other Korean Language programs, Sogang University’s program concentrates on speaking Korean. There is the option of taking a morning 4-hour Korean class, an afternoon 3-hour Korean class, an afternoon 4-hour Academic Korean class, or an evening class. The 4-hour morning class comprises of one hour of writing, two hours of speaking, and an hour of listening/reading, but the listening/reading classes also contain a large amount of speaking. The 3-hour afternoon program is essentially the same but without the writing class.

There are six levels and from levels two upwards there are also optional free classes to take for students studying in the morning classes. Due to the focus on speaking, students transferring from another university may find themselves in a lower level than expected if their speaking is not strong enough. Terms are ten weeks long. To learn more about studying in Sogang University you can watch a series of videos here.

Sungkyunkwan University

Rather than using the regular four hours a day, ten weeks a semester system, Sungkyunkwan University’s program tries to squeeze six semesters into a year by making their semesters eight weeks long with five hours of study every day. For students who want to learn Korean quickly, this might be a good option although studying for five hours a day could be quite exhausting.

Seoul National University (SNU)

SNU has six levels and each semester is ten weeks long. SNU runs morning, afternoon, and evening classes. The morning and afternoon programs are both four hours long and the evening program is just six hours per week. It consists of three hours of study on a Monday evening and three hours of study on a Thursday evening.

Yonsei University 

Yonsei University has a six-level pathway and an eight-level pathway. The eight level pathway is recommended for native English speakers and goes at a slower pace, only covering eight units per semester as opposed to ten units in the six-level pathway. Yonsei has a morning and an afternoon program, both of which are four hours long per day. There is also an evening program that is ninety hours long per semester, consisting of three hours of study a day on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

Busan University of Foreign Studies (BUFS)

If you want to learn Korean in Busan then it is possible to study at Busan University of Foreign Studies. The regular program is only available in the morning and, like most of the other university programs, has six levels, four hours of study a day, and ten-week long semesters.

Other Universities in Korea

Many other universities in Korea have a Korean language program, you can find a complete list of the courses here.

University Courses in your home country

It is often possible to study Korean in your home country if you are outside of Korea. Looking at universities that are noted for their Korean Studies programs would be a good place to start. Within the U.K., The University of Sheffield and the School of Oriental and African Studies are regarded as good places to learn Korean.

Academy Courses and Private Tutors

There are several academies (학원) that offer Korean courses in Seoul and other large Korean cities. These courses are generally held in the evening (although it may be possible to study at the weekend). Different academies offer different courses such as general conversation, business Korean, and TOPIC preparation, so it is possible for students to choose a program based on what they want to study. Edukorean, Metro Korean Academy, Ganada, and Seoul Korean Language Academy are just some of the academies that teach Korean.

Studying through a private academy can provide structure to your language learning and help motivate you to study Korean on a daily basis. The downside is that the courses are often expensive and studying in the evening after work can be quite tiresome. The focus of the course may not suit your needs and if there are not enough students then courses could be cancelled suddenly.

Another option is paying for a private tutor to help you learn Korean. Private tutoring rates are usually not much more than academy courses and you can tailor the studying to your needs. Using a private tutor also gives you more speaking time per hour so can be an effective way to improve your speaking ability. However, the quality of a private tutor can be hit-or-miss and your study may lack structure, even if you are using a textbook alongside the private tutor.

If you don’t live in Korea then you can find a private tutor online. One website that allows you to find online tutors is italki which allows students to find tutors and have a lesson over the internet. This allows students to get plenty of speaking practice even if they are not in Korea.

Free Classes

The obvious advantage of free classes is that it is cheaper than studying at a university or academy. The only costs involved in free classes are the cost of textbooks or photocopying costs. The quality of the teaching varies dramatically from class to class. Although it is possible to find a free class with a great teacher, it is also possible to find one with a really poor teacher. Equally, the quality of the materials used can be very different depending on the class. If you can find a free class that has an enthusiastic teacher who encourages participation then such a class may well be better than some of the fee-charging classes available.

Within Seoul, there are free classes provided by Kongbubang, Sookmyung Education Volunteers, and Conversational Learning Seoul. These classes are all run by enthusiastic volunteers and all have different levels starting at total beginner. These can be a good place to learn the basics of Korean and meet new people as the teachers are usually more willing to interact with the students outside of class (like having lunch together) than teachers on paid courses may be. Kongbubang and Sookmyung Education volunteers are based near Sookmyung Women’s University in central Seoul. Conversational Learning Seoul is based in Gangnam.

There are also free classes run by the Korean government such as the classes at the Seoul Global Center and the Korea Immigration and Integration Program (KIIP). These classes may be more structured and the KIIP course is also useful for those students pursuing a permanent residency (F-2) visa. The Seoul Global Center offers regular language classes, TOPIK classes, Storytelling classes aimed at mothers and children, and business Korean classes for advanced students. The YWCA also offers free Korean classes aimed at helping spouses of Koreans integrate with Korean society.

Paid Online Courses

When there are so many free resources online, some people might question the logic of paying for an online course. However, a lot of the free online content has been put together by people as a hobby and free resources often have glaring holes in the contents covered.

Paid online resources have the advantage of having structured content that is well organized. This makes learning far easier and more efficient than trying to use free resources to patch together a comprehensive program by yourself. By using a structured course, it is easier to motivate yourself as you can see the progress that you are making. Paid courses also have generally better quality resources than the free resources available.

Studying online has several advantages and disadvantages when compared to studying at an academy or university. While still being structured, online students can study at any time that they like, which is useful for busy people or people that don’t wish to leave their jobs to study full-time. It is also cheaper than studying in a classroom. However, many online courses lack interaction that is necessary for improving one’s language ability.

When choosing an online course, one of the most important factors to consider is how the course will help you with practicing speaking the language. Many online courses have lessons based around podcasts which people assume that they can use to study while travelling or doing another activity. However, to get the most out of any studying, students need to be focused on the activity of studying, use any available supplementary materials available, and take their own notes. When choosing a course, students should also try to judge from the content how long it will take them to learn the language using the course and decide whether this learning speed is appropriate for them.

Another, often forgotten, benefit of paid courses is that the act of paying in itself can provide students with motivation. Knowing that they would be wasting their money if they dropped out of the paid course can help provide a stick to incentivise students to continue with a language once they have started a paid course.

Accelerated Online Courses

Some people claim that they can learn a language in three months and Tim Ferris claimed that he learned Spanish in only eight weeks. How is this possible? The idea behind accelerated courses are that you learn the key components of a language first and try to learn the words that will allow you to say the most about of things in the shortest about of time. In such courses, things like modal verbs (want/can/may/need/like) come up very early on compared to traditional online courses. Other less useful things like describing the weather (which is only really useful if you are either a weather forecaster or if you are British) occur much later on in the course (if at all).

To give another example of this approach there are thousands upon thousands of Japanese Kanji but they are all made up of just over a hundred radicals. An accelerated approach to learning the Kanji would first involve learning these radicals, then learning only the most common Kanji, trying to make sure that students use these a lot until they are fluent. In Gabriel Wyner’s book Fluent Forever, he discusses this use of the most common words in depth, as well as presenting several methods to guarantee that difficult words stay in the student’s memory.

Accelerated Korean courses help you get there faster

Accelerated Korean courses help you get there faster

The use of accelerated learning techniques is revolutionizing how people think of language learning. It has changed the lives of countless people who thought that they couldn’t do languages because they failed high school French, only to go on to become fluent using accelerated learning techniques.

However, both Fluent Forever and Fluent in Three Months focus on techniques that are useful for learning European languages, and many of the techniques used have massive failings when coming to learn Korean. For example, Wyner’s list of three-hundred words to learn first is completely different from the three hundred most commonly used Korean words, and the sample sentences that Tim Ferris uses to deconstruct languages fall apart when used on Korean due to their inability to factor for the different politeness levels and use of hierarchical pronouns in Korean.

For students wishing to try and use the accelerated method for learning Korean, a course focused on the unique aspects of the Korean language, such as 90 Day Korean’s web course, can allow students to learn the language in a very fast time. However, they should try and combine this with as much speaking practice as possible to maximize its effectiveness (see the language exchanges section for ideas on how to manage this if you don’t live in Korea).

The difficulties in knowing where to start when learning Korean make Accelerated Language Courses an incredibly useful tool when learning Korean. For example, most Korean textbooks introduce the 입니다/습니다 concept very early on, when it is only really used for news, presentations, job interviews, and in the military.

Formal Korean for job interview

If you don’t need to do a job interview in Korean, you may be able to cut down on your study time!

Beginner students of Korean are unlikely to encounter many of these situations early on in their language study. By using an accelerated course, students can learn the most necessary parts of the language first which can make the task of language learning far less daunting.

Free Internet Resources

There is a saying ‘you don’t get anything in life for free’. The internet may be doing everything in its power to prove that saying wrong, but when it comes to language learning, it still applies to some extent. Free internet resources can help provide extra resources that benefit students if used properly, but they can hinder students who use them as a sole method to learn Korean from.

Free internet resources fall into two main categories: free courses, and other resources. Free online courses are provided by some Korean universities such as Sogang University and Seoul National University.

Although Sogang University is highly regarded for its offline Korean language program, its free online course looks severely out of date and doesn’t provide the interaction and speaking focus that its offline program is famous for. The main problem with the online course is the lack of output that a student is able to make, so it is hard to practice using the content that is being studied.

Seoul National University’s online program, Click Korean, is more user-friendly than the Sogang online course and has more opportunities for students to check their understanding, but it lacks opportunities for students to produce sentence length output and be creative with the language. Students will also probably have to go back over the materials several times before they fully understand it. The University of California: Berkeley also has an online course although it is only available at an intermediate level. It is also quite cumbersome to use while not providing enough practice for any particular grammar point to sink in.

The most inviting free online resource is Talktomeinkorean. The use of videos, audio tracks, and pdfs make it far more user-friendly than the university courses. However, the lessons aren’t linked in a way that builds students’ knowledge or reviews what they have previously learned.

It is also difficult to use the website to find a particular grammar point that you wish to understand and it takes a long time to go through all of the lessons so it is quite a slow resource to use if you want to learn Korean. That said, it is far more interactive than most online resources and the teachers actively try to get their students involved, giving it more of a community feel. Talktomeinkorean also run several language exchanges around Seoul and have weekly meetups in a Café near Hongik University (‘You are here’ café near Hongik University Station exit 2) where you can ask for their help when studying Korean.

Three other free resources that could be useful for students of Korean are Howtostudykorean, Korean Wiki Project, and Korean Grammar Dictionary. All three of these sites can be useful if you want to find a detailed explanation of any particular grammar point.

The Korean Grammar Dictionary is the easiest of these to use if you want a quick explanation. Howtostudykorean has excellent explanations if you have the time available to search through it for the grammar point in question. These resources provide no chances for practicing output, and generally just show what the grammar means rather than the correct situations when it is used. Therefore, these resources need to be combined with some other form of lessons in order to to be effective.

The Korean Wiki Project also includes other resources, along with idioms, slang, dialects et cetera. However, it is still some way off being completed so may not always have what you are looking for on it. For other online resources, click here.

With all of these free resources on offer, one might think that they can just use these resources and suddenly become fluent in Korean. In physics, two opposite forces cancel each other out, and the same can happen when you try and learn Korean or any other subject without a plan. Learning in an unstructured way prevents your brain from having the chance to build up the connections necessary for long term memorization so learning one thing can push out another thing.

Good language courses build on what a student already knows in order to allow their brain to develop deep connections. However, learning from free resources in a haphazard manner won’t allow this process to occur. If you plan to use free resources in order to improve your Korean then you need to plan ahead, look at the resources available, and spend time building your own curriculum. This process can be challenging in a language like Korean that is so different from English, so get some help if you are unsure.

Language Exchanges

Speaking is an absolutely vital part of language learning. It is from speaking and listening that babies acquire their first language, and it is how people like Benny Lewis claim that you can learn a language in record time. The difficulty comes in getting speaking practice. This is where language exchanges can play an important role.

Quite often, when you are just beginning to learn a language, people will not respond to you in that language. Or, they will answer to you in English if they know it. This can make it hard to get real-life speaking practice when you are just starting out (and is one of the main excuses people give for failing to learn Korean). Language exchanges can bridge this gap as the person who you are doing the exchange with will take the time to listen to you speak Korean. In addition, they will respond to you in Korean, even if you are still at an absolute beginner level.

Language exchanges aren’t free. It’s an exchange of services! They may not cost any money, but you have to sacrifice some of your time teaching your partner the language that they are learning. So for every hour of language exchange, a student only gets half an hour of practice in their target language. It is also important to remember that language exchange partners are not teachers and their teaching may be very ineffective. This can make language exchanges quite an exhausting experience.

To give your language exchange the best chance of success there are several things that you can do.

One is to be very careful when choosing your partners. Ideally, go to a group language exchange first so that you can more efficiently find a partner that suits you. An ideal partner should be easy to understand, compassionate, and have similar interests to you so that you can use the vocabulary that interests you the most.

Secondly, it is important to make sure that the language exchange does not slip into an English discussion. Language exchanges are supposed to be half in one language and half in the other language. If you are in a group this can be harder to enforce so be careful and when it is time to speak Korean be sure to make sure that the conversation doesn’t slip back into your native language.

Thirdly, try to add structure to the exchange by bringing a textbook or at least some notes about what you wish to discuss. This will give you more of a chance to improve as just random discussion won’t give you the opportunity for repetition that is required to make new concepts stick.

Language exchanges frequently burn out as one or both of the partners loses interest so if your partner hasn’t met with you for a few weeks then find a new partner. It is also possible to do language exchanges over the internet if there aren’t any language exchanges that you can travel to. To find a language exchange, you can use or any of the resources listed here. For online language exchanges, it is also possible to use italki in addition to the previously mentioned options.

Flash Cards

If used correctly, flashcards can help students memorize thousands of words. The important thing is to know how to use them. A relatively new concept called spaced repetition has changed the way in which flashcards can be used. Spaced repetition can be done manually (The book Fluent Forever has a guide on how to do this). However it is much easier to let a computer take care of the spacing for you. Two of the most popular online spaced repetition systems are Anki and Memrise.

How flashcards are used makes a huge difference to their effectiveness. After looking on the Memrise website you will probably discover hundreds of decks of Korean flashcards and not know where to start. The best option is to use none of these decks but instead make your own flashcards to help you learn Korean. It can be time consuming, but it will drastically help make the words stick in your memory. It also has the advantages of helping you learn words that are useful to you and giving you meaningful descriptions (not so important for words like ‘tree’ but vital when it comes to more complex concepts).

The book Fluent Forever gives an excellent guide on how to make flashcards. Although its instructions are based on Anki, the methods can be transferred to Memrise, too. If you really don’t feel like making your own flashcard deck, then using the ‘2000 Essential Korean Words for beginners’ deck in conjunction with the corresponding book wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

Using flashcards to learn words in your free time, while on the subway or waiting for a friend, can free up your study time to focus on other aspects of the language such as grammar or speaking.

Korean Dramas

Korean Dramas are a very relaxing way to supplement your Korean study. Of course they cannot be your only resource, but they can complement other methods by providing a lot of easy listening practice. The reason for this is that dramas are much slower than movies and they have many dramatic pauses as well as using repetitive vocabulary that makes comprehension easier. They also are often based on domestic subjects so the vocabulary used is more likely to be known by students than the vocabulary used in movies. For beginner students, dramas can be especially useful in helping students identify the correct use of personal pronouns like 오빠 or 선배 as well as interjections like 정말? And 그래.

However, the language used in dramas isn’t exactly the same as natural Korean and students need to be careful when using phrases that they have learned in dramas. An example of this is the use of the word 당신 which occurs regularly in dramas but infrequently in natural spoken Korean. (Be especially careful about using period dramas as they often use Korean from centuries ago, and speaking in that way would be similar to using words like ‘doth’ and ‘thou speaketh’ in English.) Readers in the USA and Canada can watch Korean dramas on Soompi.

Korean Movies

These use much more specialized vocabulary and are faster paced than dramas, which make them a less than ideal source for learning Korean. The plot generally moves faster so it can be more difficult to guess what is happening from the context than it is when watching Korean dramas. This especially applies to thrillers and action movies.

Movies and dramas can help give the viewer a deeper insight into Korean culture. They also can be used as a topic to talk about with Koreans, so they can indirectly help your language learning in that way. Korean movies can be found here, as well as on YouTube. There are plenty to choose from!


Remembering melodies is so easy for the brain that once a particularly catchy melody gets stuck in your head, you can recall it years later. By learning song lyrics along with their melodies, students can learn Korean in a way that makes it stick in their heads. This can be useful in remembering difficult concepts. For example, many songs feature the lyrics 잊지 말라요 (don’t forget). By using these lyrics, students can easily remember the difference between the verbs 잊다 (to forget) and 잃다 (to lose).

The problem lies in that most lyrics are irrelevant to everyday life. Additionally, lyrics are often structured in order to fit the beat of the song rather than to have perfect sentence structure. It is easy enough to find K-pop songs on YouTube. You can find lyrics by searching for the song title and the word ‘lyrics’. This makes K-pop songs an easy resource to use. Slower songs with a melody are more effective for learning than fast songs with rapped lyrics. This is because it is easier to match the words to the melodies in slow songs.

Can't read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!

Evaluate Study Method Effectiveness

Evaluate Korean class effectiveness

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of any given study method, first you must know what your objectives and reasons for learning Korean are (re-read part one of this article if you are unsure about this).

Once you know your goals then you can start to think about the best way in which to learn Korean. An effective course is one that gets you to your goals quickly and with as little pain as possible. It is also one that will help you maintain that level of Korean.

Generally speaking, the most effective methods are those that allow you to know the basic everyday language (i.e. grammar, vocabulary, and conversation skills) combined with the Korean needed for your specialist goals.

For example, if you have no intention of ever learning Taekwondo, then Korean used for Taekwondo will not be that useful. But if you love watching baseball, then Korean baseball terms will be extremely useful!

In that case, you may want to evaluate your course effectiveness by watching baseball games. If you can understand 10% of what the announcers say after 2 months, and 25% after 4 months, then you may consider this an effective way to learn Korean!

Learn Korean baseball terms

Knowing Korean will make the games a lot more fun!
Photo: Chelsea Marie Hicks

But if you find that after 3 months you still don’t know what the people are saying during the game, it may be time to find a new study plan.

Another important thing when evaluating a course is its ‘stickability’. If you are learning too slowly and not enjoying your studying, then you will most likely give up studying. This is one of the main disadvantages of a lot of free Korean resources available.

When you make a plan to learn Korean, you need to make sure that it is a plan that you can stick to. You need to do enough studying that you can feel that you are making progress, but not so much that you are overwhelmed. As Tim Ferris says:

“What you study is more important than how you study”

~Four Hour Chef, 2012

Choosing an effective course and study plan is the most important factor in determining your success in language learning. Once that course is in place, then you will naturally enjoy it. You’ll feel that you are progressing and so becoming more motivated naturally.

However, if you try to learn everything at once with no order then you will quickly become overwhelmed and lose your motivation. As Korean is full of traps that can quickly make a language learner feel overwhelmed, it is important to choose a course that helps you progress quickly. Be sure to avoid courses that get you stuck with the ten or so different ways to say the verb ‘to do’ based on politeness and context. It’s likely not necessary for you.

A course focused on a clear strategy to get you to your goals, combined with fun content, will be a formula for Korean learning success!

What is your favorite way to learn Korean?

The post Korean Language Study Methods and Plans appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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How To Say ‘Ghost’ In Korean

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Boo! Want to hear something spooky? Well then, if you join us for today’s lesson of how to say ‘ghost’ in Korean, you just might! Better keep your lights on and not be near bedtime when you study this lesson with us.

Just kidding. But still, time to learn how to say ‘ghost’ in Korean with us!

Can't read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 90 minutes!

Happy ghost

‘Ghost’ in Korean

There are two main words for how to say ‘ghost’ in Korean. The first word for ‘ghost’ in Korean is 귀신 (gwisin).

귀신 (gwisin)


This is a very popular word to use for saying ‘ghost’ in Korean, and likely the one you will hear first. The other main word for ‘ghost’ in Korean is 유령 (yuryeong).

유령 (yuryeong)


In many ways, this word means the same as 귀신, both of which can also be used for the meanings ‘apparition’ and ‘phantom’. However, of the two, 유령 may be the fancier and more literary, if possible, option, thus why it is not used as much in everyday speech.

Another similar word is 혼령 (hollyeong). But instead of meaning ghost, it is better to limit its usage to ‘spirit’ or ‘phantom’. 영혼 (yeonghon) is its synonym, though it is more typically used to express the word ‘soul’.

A word of caution about Romanization

While it is possible for you to study the words in this article simply by reading their romanized versions, it will come in handy for you to be able to read Hangeul if you ever wish to come to Korea. Hangeul is the Korean alphabet, and not difficult to learn. In fact, you can learn it in just 90 minutes.

After you’ve familiarized yourself with Hangeul, life in Korea will suddenly seem so much easier and the country won’t appear so foreign for you. So, if you’re serious about learning Korean, why not learn Hangeul today?

Sample Sentences

Standard Korean Example Sentences

You can use these sentences in just about every situation, they’re considered polite. 

1. 제 친구가 10년전에 죽었는데 왜 아직도 친구의 혼령이 붙고 있는 것 같아요? (je chinguga 10nyeonjeone jugeonneunde wae ajikdo chinguui hollyeongi butgo inneun geot gatayo?)

   My friend has already been dead for ten years, so why does it still feel like his ghost is haunting me?

Informal Korean Example Sentences

This style of speaking is used with friends, family, or others that you're close with.

1. 요즘 우리 집에서 이상한 일들이 많이 생기고 있어서 귀신이 들리고 있는 것 같아. (yojeum uri jibeseo isanghan ildeuri mani saenggigo isseoseo gwisini deulligo inneun geot gata.)

   There are so many strange things happening in our house these days, it’s like it’s haunted by a ghost.

2 .이게 무슨 미친 말인가? 유령 같은 것이 없잖아. (ige museun michin maringa? yuryeong gateun geosi eopjana.)

   What kind of crazy talk is this? You know there are no such things as ghosts.

Want more Korean phrases? Click here for a complete list!

The post How To Say ‘Ghost’ In Korean appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

Fall Photography!

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I love fall. I love the temperature. I love the fact that the sun rises and sets at a reasonable time. I love the changing of the leaves and the cool morning air. I also thankfully live in a country that also doesn’t know what a pumpkin spice latte is either!

With that being said, What’s the plan for this year? It is almost halloween and I have yet to head out and get those signature dead leaf shots. Well truth be told, peak season doesn’t hit my part of South Korea until this weekend. So I will be gearing up tomorrow for some adventures. Here is a basic idea of what I am going for this year.

The Standard Shots

One of the things that I learned while I was shooting sports was that you need to nail the standard or “safety shots” first before getting too wild with your creativity. That basically means that you should get those “typical shots” out of the way first before venturing into a style of shot that may or may not work.

These are typically shots that everyone knows or expects to see. Boring, yes but necessary. For me I use these shots to get warmed up. They get my head in the game a little bit. So start of with the snapshots of the falling leaves on the ground before moving on to the technically more difficult shots. At least you will leave with some shots that you can share on your card.


If you know my work then you know that I don’t shy away from colour. I love it and it is what attracts me to this time of the year. The colours seem to pop in fall regardless of the weather.

When I am shooting fall colours, I am looking for ways to boosts the contrast or show how enveloping they are. Meaning that this is a time of year when the trees are bright yellow and red and the ground is also covered with bright yellow and red leaves. I am looking to find ways to express that in my photography this year a little better than I have in years gone by.

Colour is a great way to show fall as it is a very recognizable colour scheme. If your view sucks then focus on those colours and get closer to your subject. Used patterns and light to emphasise the colours as well.

Creative Shots

Injecting a bit of creativity into your fall portfolio is almost needed these day. By now your social feeds are probably inundated with bright colour shots of waterfalls and forest paths. While these images are great, you may want to consider changing things up and possibly experimenting with some new ideas.

I love thinking about new ways to photograph something as timeless as autumn. Cinemagraphs are a great way to add a bit of movement into a still frame.

This is a fun idea as we all associate the falling of leaves as a vital part of the autumn experience. creating an image with an infinite loop of falling leaves is a great way for people to experience the fall beauty.

You can also hone in on the smaller details. I have a 50mm F1.4 that I don’t use all that often. However, it is great for details when shooting wide open to blur out the rest of the surrounding image.

Another idea is to add motion blur to your images. As the trees are blowing in the wind, you can set your aperture to F22 for a longer exposure and see what happens. This works best on a windy day where there is a lot of movement in the trees.

The bottomline here is that you can start with the typical shots and work your way into some truly creative stuff. You just have to step back and experiment. Remember, you are not a journalist covering the falling of the leaves for a major news outlet. You are a photographer with a flare for creativity.

The post Fall Photography! appeared first on The Sajin.

Failing North Korea Talks Once Again Suggest Starting Small

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Image result for north korea talks sweden

This is re-post of an essay I wrote for The National Interest a few weeks ago. The argument is one I have made repeatedly – that big-bang, all-or-nothing deals with North Korea are unlikely – because of low trust on both sides – and they represent far too large a leap to take given North Korean cheating in the past. We should scale back our efforts to smaller, cumulative steps which are actually doable. Think where would be now if we had done this for the last 18 months instead of gambling again and again on a huge breakthrough while not making any actual progress.

The problem is that the US and South Korean presidents both want a big-bang deal for domestic political reasons unrelated to the substance of denuclearization talks with the North. Trump wants a Nobel Peace Prize to stave off impeachment and get himself re-elected. He will sign anything because he doesn’t actually care about the deal’s contents. Also, and perhaps as important, Trump is lazy. He doesn’t want to negotiate in depth and detail with NK because he doesn’t know enough to do that and doesn’t want to learn.

SK President Moon wants a big-bang deal because he has pinned his whole presidency to détente with North Korea. All his domestic policies are contentious and are being overwhelmed by the North Korea issue which is absorbing all Moon’s time and energy. NK has a way of overwhelming SK presidents’ time in office, and Moon has worsened that normal time-suck by jumping in with both feet (and getting nothing).

In short, the North won’t go for a big, one-shot deal just because Moon and Trump are desperate at home. If we really want progress, we need to start with small, manageable, transparent swaps. These should involve a limited series of steps on both sides over a limited period of time. This would make post-hoc evaluation easier: after such a swap, we could do an after-action analysis and decide what the next swap should be. With each step, we could enlarge cooperation, building organically and credibly on previous steps. Needless to say, this will take a long time. But it is far more likely to actually work than hoping that NK will suddenly – after 50 years developing nukes – agree to trade them away. They won’t. That should be pretty obvious at this point.

The full essay follows the jump:


This week’s most recent talks between the US and North Korea have failed again. When US President Donald Trump met North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi earlier this year, Trump walked out abruptly. This time it appears the North Koreans did. Perhaps it was turnabout as the North Koreans were apparently surprised and embarrassed that Hanoi collapsed so badly. Certainly the North Korean statement that these newest talks were ‘sickening’ and their refusal to return to another suggests the meeting went badly.

This was not that difficult to foresee. The US keeps approaching negotiations with the North in search of a big-bang, all-or-nothing deal. But North Korea has repeatedly said that there is not enough trust between it and the US for a mega-deal which would dramatically reduce its nuclear and missile arsenal, and that the US offer of sanctions relief for large North Korean cuts is not enough. The North Koreans seem to want a smaller starter deal, or at least to avoid one final, end-all-be-all resolution.

The focus on a one-shot agreement seems to flow from Trump’s personal hang-up with winning a Nobel Peace Prize. His opening to North Korea is the argument he makes most for the prize. But to actually justify it, Trump would have to bring home a serious breakthrough, a deal which sustainably shifts the peninsula away from its long, heavily militarized stalemate. This prize-seeking, in turn, has provoked blowback from US analyst community and media that Trump would give away a lot in order to secure any deal he could get. That deal could then be pitched as a foreign policy success for his re-election campaign and the Nobel Committee.

This blowback has constrained how much Trump can offer the North. In Hanoi, he complained that the media and expert community would have criticized him if he had struck a soft deal with Kim. Certainly, Democrats in 2020 would use a weak deal with Kim against Trump, and given the president’s harsh criticism of former President Barack Obama’s Iran deal, hypocrisy would loom large.

In short, Trump appears to want to offer a big, somewhat generous, Nobel Prize-earning offer to Kim, but he cannot. The US domestic optics are just too punishing. This brought down the Hanoi summit and appears, if the North Koreans are to be believed, to have brought down last weekend’s talks too.

The question, yet again then, is how to move forward. Given that North Korea does not want an all-or-nothing deal, there is little alternative but to move more slowly, regardless of extraneous concerns like the 2020 election or Nobel Prize committee deliberations. I have long argued in these pages that small, manageable US-North Korean deals, cumulating over time, are the best way forward. The collapse of this weekend’s talks, on top of the failure of all the high-profile, empty symbolism summitry of the last eighteen months, once again strongly suggests this middling approach.

The reasons for big bang’s failure are not that difficult to figure out. The strategic and ideological gaps between the US and North Korea are enormous. North Korea explicitly built nuclear weapons to deter the United States. The US has long supported South Korea’s sovereign claim to rule the peninsula. The US has long led a coalition to contain, sanction, isolate, and deter the North. Given the North’s appalling human rights record, there is little global sympathy for the North; most countries, even China and Russia, would be happy to see the Kim monarchy pushed out and replaced with more moderate leaders.

Trump has tried to reverse this large legacy. But he has done so frantically and haphazardly at best, and his credibility is low. Just two years ago, he was speaking of ‘fire and fury’ and war. Then suddenly he called Kim his friend. Such erratic swings discourage confidence. North Korea, like many of Trump’s counter-parties over the years, is wary of being burned in a deal. This really should not be surprising to anyone who has followed North Korea or its relationship with the US.

Given this long, tricky past, the obvious way to move forward is small deals generating confidence to make bigger deals next. The deals will be valuable in themselves, but the confidence-building of bargains made/bargains kept will be almost important. A long-standing problem for both sides is low trust and credibility. Baby-step deals which demonstrate trust in action should open doors to bigger more expansive swaps. Given the many issues between the US and North Korea, it should not be that difficult to find some small issues of value to both sides to swap.

For example, nuclear safety in North Korea has long been an outside concern, including of China. A Chernobyl-style incident in North Korea would be regional disaster, and it is not hard to imagine that nuclear safety protocols are weak in the North, just as they were in Soviet Union. Nuclear safety discussions also keep the US-North Korean talks near the nuclear program but do not touch reductions or cuts the North Koreans are simply unwilling to make now.

The usual argument against this is that it is low-ball thinking: Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In are dynamic leaders looking for historic breakthroughs and a revolution on the peninsula. This is exciting, heady rhetoric but, in reality, it forgoes actual progress for big talk. Consider how much further along we might be with the North if we had made – and kept – a series of micro-deals in the last few years, one building on another. We would have a record of real successes – bargains made/bargains kept – and growing mutual confidence for greater mutual concessions.

But instead, we have succumbed for empty rhetoric, like Moon’s ‘peace economy’ with North Korea, or empty symbolism like Trump’s steps across the demilitarized zone, with little actual progress. Let’s stop hankering to cut the North Korean gordian know with one made-for-TV stroke and get to the real business of doable swaps.

How Focaccia Saved Summer

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It has been a very strange summer, and I realize that, by now, we are well into fall, but it takes me some time to get my system up and running at full speed again after the summer season. Because I hate it. It’s sweaty and exhausting, and it makes all the parts of living in a crowded city that are already bad unbearable. My dog agrees with my sentiments about the heat, as well, which means he refuses to go for walks longer than 10 minutes, and long walks with Charlie have become the closest thing I have to therapy.

On top of all of that? Baking and cooking become somewhat nightmarish endeavors once the temperature crosses a certain threshold. And those are two more of my biggest stress relievers. This summer, however, I found a way to minimize my time spent in the (home) kitchen, while making satisfying meals that felt like they were still thoughtful and very much homemade. As a bonus, I got to wring at least one positive out of Korea’s unbearably hot, humid season — the ability to rise bread with very little fussing and no praying.

easy focaccia recipe

Focaccia, I think, is most familiar to Americans as a bread eaten on its own as a side or cut down the middle for sandwiches, but it’s also often used in place of a pizza dough base in Italy, piled with sauce, cheese and other toppings. That’s where the effortless part came in this summer, as I almost always have leftover pesto hanging around in the warmer months, and I realized focaccia also made a great receptacle for any leftover veggies I had laying around after most of the week’s grocery shopping was exhausted.

Eggplant, peppers, onions, mushrooms, asparagus — all of these and more made appearances in the weekly focaccia rotation, with, of course, a little cheese grated over the top. I even got into the habit of keeping a mason jar full of olive oil and herbs on hand to make the process even easier (something I recommend for everyone anyway — infused oil not only good for focaccia and pizza, but salads and, of course, pasta).

It takes about 20 minutes to pull the dough together and knead it, and then another 5 to get it in the pan for the final rise (add 10-15 to chop veggies or grate cheese to go on top, if that’s your thing), and you can even make a big batch of this to keep in the fridge and pull from throughout the next few days to have fresh bread with little more than a few minutes’ worth of hands-on work each day. The flavor will only get stronger as the dough is allowed to slowly ferment.

easy focaccia recipe

Overall, this is one of the most convenient and versatile breads I’ve come across so far, because it doesn’t require any fussy shaping or rigging up the home oven to try to get a decent crust (you should see the situation I have going for regular loaves of bread — it requires the use of fireproof gloves and loose straight razors, and I feel an inevitable emergency room visit creeping ever closer with each loaf).

easy focaccia recipe

This recipe was very slightly adapted from this one from, so a big thank-you to them for providing that.


Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Category: In the Kitchen, Mains, Recipes, Sides, Uncategorized

easy focaccia recipe


  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. At least a day before you make the bread, put the olive oil, garlic and rosemary in a container so the oil has time to infuse.
  2. Combine the water, honey and yeast and stir until well mixed. Leave the yeast mixture to stand for about 10 minutes, until it is frothy.
  3. In the meantime, gather your dry ingredients and combine the flour, salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Add 1/2 a cup of the infused oil and all of the yeast mixture and stir together until a dough forms. Then tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is elastic and smooth, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. Coat a large, clean bowl with more of the infused oil and place the dough inside, brushing more oil over the top. Cover it with a damp kitchen towel and set it aside to rise until it has at least doubled in size, anywhere from an hour to two-and-a-half hours (this will go much more quickly in summer and may take quite a bit longer in winter).
  5. Once the dough has risen, coat a 9″x13″ pan with the infused oil and press the dough evenly into the pan, punching out any big pockets of air. Use your finger or the round end of a wooden spoon to poke little divots across the surface. Coat the surface of the dough generously with the remaining infused oil (you may also want to sprinkle it with a little sea salt if you plan to have the bread on its own with no added toppings), cover and set aside once more to rise for about 20-30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 F (218 C) and bake until the top is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. **Note: If you are using this recipe to make a pizza and have piled on a lot of toppings, you may need to keep the bread in the oven longer to make sure it bakes through — between 30 and 45 minutes in my experience.

The post How Focaccia Saved Summer appeared first on Follow the River North.

Follow the River North

Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.

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Nothing's Really Real Podcast: (Ep 67) Horror Movie Hot Boys

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The Horror Movie Hot Boys is a super exclusive group which I am involved in. The OG’s consist of John Meyerriecks, Mark Shelley and I. I wouldn’t not call us horror movie experts – and we’ve gotten together on this pod to figure out the ONLY movie you should be watching this Halloween.
We do this by selecting 24 of our favorite horror movies, and then eliminating them, one by one, until only one recommendation remains.
If you’re interested in hearing three middle-aged men nerd-out and argue about horror movies – than this is the episode for you! And please, let us know which ones we got wrong. 
If you enjoy the show, tell a friend about it, and please leave a review on iTunes or whatever app you listen to podcasts on. I’d really appreciate it!

MidDay Photography

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Recently, I was thinking about heading out to a favourite location. Due to a late night and a comfortable bed, I slept in. I got up and the clouds were amazing. The problem was that it was also almost noon! If you have read anything about landscape photography the gurus will tell you that is a “big mistake!” but is it really?

At any rate, it got me thinking more about taking photos during those times where the photo gurus say that you should be at the cafe pimping your photos out to instagram. In some ways, they are right but on the days when there is a bright blue sky and puffy white clouds… grab your great and get out there!


I started shooting more midday shots because of my travel photography assignments. Sure, some landscapes look better in the warm light of a sunrise, but many briefs specifically requested images to be taken during the day. At first, this was strange but after seeing the results, I understood.

People want to see landscapes as that would normally see them. Most sane people are not up at the crack of dawn but rather during the day. However, this isn’t always the best time for photography especially for tourist spots.

When I was recently in Tokyo, I found the bulk of my shots were coming midday as I had several locations to shoot in a short amount of time. Sure, the morning shots at the temple were nice but they were not any better (in my opinion) than the midday shots that I got elsewhere.


I find that midday shots often reflect the seasons better for some reason. While sunrise/sunset photos have a timelessness to them, the bright blue skies through the golden leaves on a fall day really nail that autumn feeling. The same goes for midday beach shots as well.

I am not trying to say that a midday shot is better but rather I am trying to send the point home that you are not out of luck if all you can shoot are daytime photos. From puffy clouds to hazy rainy days, you just have to flex your creative brain a bit.

Speaking about summer, I have always found that midday shots represent the season a bit better than a sunrise shot. Perhaps, a sunset over a nice beach may have that “summer nights” looks that many are after but for the most part people go to the beach during the day. Photos that resonate with then can be shot during that same timeframe. Done right, this can conjure up some great memories in your viewer.

Black and White

I have been talking a lot about the ideal conditions. Life is not always blue skies and puffy clouds. Sometimes we have harsh light, cloudless skies and everything just seems blown out or boring.

This is where you can use the harsh contrasts to your advantage. Convert your image to black and white and focus on the detail and contrast. This allowed you to focus less on the colours and more on the subject as well.

This is a great time to look for some shadows too. The midday sun will create some harsher shadows and converting to black and white can emphasise the contrast.

Use a Filter

Using a CP or Circular Polarizer can help make those skies pop and cut some of the glase from the midday sun too. For me, this is what automatically goes on when the sun is high in the sky.

You can also try using an ND Filter or neutral density filter. This will allow you to blur clouds and streams. It can also blur the midday crowds of people that tend to appear in many tourist areas.

The bottom line here is that you do have a few options when it comes to midday shooting. Being a little creative can yield some great results. Try it out and let me know how it goes in the comments below.

The post MidDay Photography appeared first on The Sajin.

How To Say ‘Dream’ In Korean

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Do you like to dream about the future? Or maybe talk about your dreams at night to friends? What about telling the difference between the two?

Well, today your dreams will come true as we learn how to say ‘dream’ in Korean!

A sailboat on the ocean against the background of the night sky

‘Dream’ in Korean

The word for how to say ‘dream’ in Korean is 꿈 (kkum). 

 꿈 (kkum)


This is the noun, and the verb ‘to dream’ is 꾸다 (kkuda). These two are most often used together, although it’s possible to use 꿈 on its own, 꾸다 is used almost exclusively together with 꿈.

So how to make the distinction of when to include 꾸다 and when not to? The phrase 꿈을 꾸다 (kkumeul kkuda) is usually used in the context of talking about dreams you had or have during the night. Instead of 꿈을 꾸다, you can also merge the two words together, into 꿈꾸다 (kkumkkuda). In this case, you can also use it for meanings outside of dreaming while asleep.

 꿈꾸다 (kkumkkuda)

to have a dream

Meanwhile, if you want to talk about your dream in life, for example, you could drop 꾸다 from the sentence. 

Can't read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 90 minutes!

Another word for how to say ‘dream’ in Korean is 바람 (baram). This specifically means ‘wish’ as in something that you wish or desire to have, rather than what your mind cooked up while you were sleeping. It’s close enough to the meaning of ‘dream’ to be interchangeable with the word 꿈, and 꿈 might be better to use in many situations to avoid confusion since 바람 has other meanings as well.

A word of caution about Romanization

While it is possible for you to study the words in this article simply by reading their romanized versions, it will come in handy for you to be able to read Hangeul if you ever wish to come to Korea. Hangeul is the Korean alphabet, and not difficult to learn. In fact, you can learn it in just 30 minutes.

After you’ve familiarized yourself with Hangeul, life in Korea will suddenly seem so much easier and the country won’t appear so foreign for you. So, if you’re serious about learning Korean, why not learn Hangeul today?

Sample Sentences

Formal Example Sentence

The words and grammar in these examples would be used in professional settings or with those older or higher in the social hierarchy than you. You might hear this style of talking if you work at a Korean company, or in a drama/movie.

1. 은 뭐세요? → What is your dream?

   kkumeun mwoseyo?

2. 내 은 가수가 되는 것입니다. → My dream is to become a singer.

   nae kkumeun kasuga dwinun keutibnida.

Standard Korean Example Sentences

You can use these sentences in just about every situation, they’re considered polite.

1. 패션회사에서 일하는 것이 벌써 몇년동안 제 바람이었어요. → Working in a fashion company has been my dream for a few years already.

   paesyeonhoesaeseo ilhaneun geosi beolsseo myeonnyeondongan je baramieosseoyo.

2. 잠 잘때 보통 꿈을 꿔요? → Do you usually have dreams when you are sleeping?

   jam jalttae botong kkumeul kkwoyo?

3. 나의 바람은 그를 한 번 만나보는 것이다. → I wish I could see him once.

   naui barameun geureul han beun mannaboneun keutida.

Informal Korean Example Sentences

This style of speaking is used with friends, family, or others that you're close with.

1. 넌 지난밤에 내가 꾸는 에서 나왔어. → You showed up in my dreams last night.

   neon jinanbame naega kkuneun kkumeseo nawasseo.

2. 좋은 꿈 꿔! → Sweet dreams!

   joeun kkum kkwo!

So what level of Korean do you dream of reaching? The skies the limit! But we're here to help along the way. Let us know what word you'd like to learn next in the comments below!

Want more Korean phrases? Click here for a complete list!

The post How To Say ‘Dream’ In Korean appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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