A Conversation

(Driving through Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan.)

The Korean Cousin:  "This is the way up to the lab I work in."

The Korean:  "It's a big hill."

TKC:  "I walk up this hill every morning, at 6 a.m."

TK:  "You have always been so diligent, hyeong."

TKC:  "That's what our family does, working harder than everyone. Your family moved to Seoul early, but I'm a hick, you know. There are all these people who are smarter than me and went to better schools. So this is what I have been doing for the ten years I've been working here. I get to the lab two hours before everyone else does. I open the curtains, clean the office, then I have a quiet time for myself. What do you think I do with that time?"

TK:  "... you would probably study something."

TKC:  "I study English."

TK:  "That's amazing, hyeong."

TKC:  "No it's not, because I'm not getting better. For ten years I've been spending those precious two hours a day of my life studying English, and I'm not getting better. I memorize everything I see, I listen to all these English listening materials, I practice speaking, and I'm not getting better. My test scores are the same, and I don't feel like I'm better at listening or speaking in English.

It's such a waste of time. It's not easy getting up that early. It takes all my dedication and discipline. Those two hours are precious to me. If I spent those two hours a day studying the engineering stuff that I wanted to study, I would be so much happier. I would be a much better engineer too. But I can't do that. People who buy our ships only speak English."

TK:  "... you just gotta keep at it, like you always do ..."

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.