I would like to share a typical language exchange I had today with my friend Chulmoon, the organic rice farmer in South Korea.
I come off a lot better in text messages that I have time to compose with a Korean-English dictionary, Naver translate, dongsa verb conjugator, and YellowBridge Chinese-English dictionary handy. These are all shortcuts on my PC web browser.
I am using words I sorta-know, but spelling and typing in Hangul are still a challenge. I’m better at picking a word out of multiple choice options on Memrise. I am mostly confident with the verb conjugation (but a quick check of dongsa soothes my nervousness at trying to make a sentence.) Sentences are very simple. Subject/object particles remain problematic for me. Putting together a sentence takes me minutes. Deciphering a simple sentence Chulmoon writes takes me twice that, which in real time conversations means I am always a few sentences behind. Just call me slow.
We are 12 hours apart. At 10 am, I had sent him a funny video about me trying fermented red ginseng tonic for the first time. (Gaaahhh!) A challenge for me, when we are actually both online at the same time, is that it is late at night, so my brain is not as sharp. I get overwhelmed after a few sentences, tired brain.
What I will share has mistakes. Showing it will give you an idea of where I am with my Korean writing. My correction/translations in square brackets  are my own. The conversation took 45 minutes.
Julia: 선생님 Rob 저로 선뭏 줍니다. 홍삼음류. My teacher from Korean Digital Academy gave me a gift. Red Ginseng Tonic. I had never tasted it before. Strange taste. [선물]
Chulmoon: Ye? Ginseng tonic? 발효 홍삼액?
Sure!! Good to get health!!!
From years ago, we take it for benefiting health care.
Julia: How is your rice growing? Will this be a good harvest?
It’s too early to say about that.
Julia: 저는 사진을 좋아해요.
Chulmoon: 호오!! 한국말 완전해요. [O ho! Great! Korean makes complete sense.]
꽃눈이 막 피어 올랐어요.
[I am busily looking up in Naver translator to figure out what this sentence that starts with flower eyes might be …]
Julia: What is the word for growing rice plant? 쌀 is hulled rice. I know you told me before. I forgot.
Cooked rice is 밥. wink emoticon
Julia: Chinese character for rice I have seen.
Chulmoon: 벼 is pure Korean. Not Chinese character.
Julia: Ah. Good to know. I do not know enough Korean to differentiate native Korean vs Chinese-Korean words.
米 미 hulled or husked uncooked rice
Chulmoon: Yes. 미 is Chinese character, and we read 미.
미 is uncooked rice. Just rice is 미 with Chinese character. And Korean reading is 쌀. wink emoticon
Julia: 꽃눈 = flower eye = Blooming flower bud. That is beautiful language. Poetry.
Chulmoon: Hur hur—-.
Yes. 꽃눈 is poetry word.wink emoticon
Julia: Today I drew a sunflower. 오늘 해바라기를 그렸어요.
Chulmoon: 벌써 해바라기가 피었어요? [Sunflower has bloomed already?]
Julia: 오늘 뭐 문철씨 했어요?
Chulmoon: 마늘 심었어요. 열무 local food market에 냈어요.
[I plant garlic. Young radish local food market to sell.]
Julia: I want to ask “What did you do today?” Is that right? Is that natural way to ask?
Chulmoon: 예, 좋아요. [Yes, good.]
오늘 문철씨 뭐 했어요가 더 부드러워요. [“오늘 문철씨 뭐 했어요” is more smooth]
Julia: 마늘 garlic! I remember word. I plant garlic in my garden too.
Chulmoon: Ye? Over there, too?
허어. 그렇지!! 해는 똑같지 지구상에서는.wink emoticon
그런데 북반구와 남반구는 다를걸—.
같은 위도에 살고 있으니 마늘을 같은 때에 심는군요.
Julia: Wow. My brain overflows Korean. Thank you for writing me Korean sentences. 밤 10 시 있어요. 나무 늦게. I am going to bed now. 아직 자요.
Chulmoon: 미안해요. 잘 자요.
Julia: Yes, we plant garlic in Fall here.
좋은 하루 되세요.