Communication issues in Korea

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Leah Wankum, for The Muleskinner—
2043I’m not worried about the language barrier. Koreans are studying English, right?
Despite my effort to study Korean in the 10 months before arriving in Seoul, I could not survive on the basics alone.
This made conversation between non-English speakers extremely difficult and frustrating, and at the beginning, I rarely ventured out without one of my Korean buddies.
However, most of my travels took place in the first half of the fall semester, before the cold weather came in, and I mostly traveled with foreigners who knew little more Korean than I did. This made the trips to Sokcho and Jeju Island  interesting.
I’ve never felt more accomplished than when the locals understood my broken Korean and hand gestures!
On the bright side, the majority of Koreans in the Seoul and Busan areas, especially those in their 20s and 30s, can speak enough English for the situation at hand.
Next week I will discuss how I am dealing with culture shock.