Fluently me

In summer Ewha Woman’s University really a very nice place to be, because it’s just that bit cooler than the rest of town, since it is built on a hill. But when it rains, it is a terrible place for the exact same reason: because it is built on a hill. This means that the university turns into a river when it is raining hard, so avoiding getting wet is almost impossible. So, naturally, my socks were wet after being outside for only 10 minutes, even though I was wearing boots.

So where exactly was I going in this terrible weather you might ask. well, I was headed for a very nice place: a bookstore. Why? because I want to improve my Korean and the best way to do that on my own is to talk a lot, listen a lot and read a lot! So really, I needed something to read.


The bookstore was quite big and nice. It was still raining heavily when I arrived with the subway but thankfully I didn’t have to go outside as there was a door that let directly into the store from the subway, so I didn’t get more wet. The first thing that I noticed inside was the amount of books by French authors. I noticed that all of Bernard Werber’s books were translated into Korean and there were even some of his books there that I couldn’t remember ever having seen before. I actually discovered Bernard Werber’s works thanks to my Korean addiction and requested some of his books last christmas. So I have already read ‘Le Papillion des Etoiles’ (see photo bellow) and have two of his other books as well. His books were even on the bestseller list even though they have been out in Korea for quite a while, some even several years. 

As I strolled through the store another book caught my gaze, not because it was a book that I wanted to read but because of the picture on the front cover. It was a picture of a painting by artist Tim Eiteil. What is interesting about this is not just that I know who the artist is (that too but not only) it is that our art class went to see an exhibition by him where this painting was there and I remember having to sketch this in my notebook. And what is even better is that this book talks about communication problems in modern society (as far as i could understand) and that is exactly what we spend forever talking about when we went to see his exhibition, duh, that’s probably why they chose that painting for the front cover. Anyways, that was my random fact of the day.

As for the books that I bought, here they are:


No, there is not a word of English inside, only Korean books tend to have the original title on the front cover. Since ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ was originally written in English (I think) the title appears in English. And since 시크럿가든 is pronounced Secret Garden in Korean (but has no real Korean meaning) the title also appears in English on this book.

Something that I found quite funny about Korean books, or books published in Korea, is that there are often pictures and illustrations inside of them. I skimmed through Bernard Werber’s book ‘Le Papillion des Etoiles’, for example, that I read recently, and was surprised to find illustration at the beginning of every chapter. ‘The old man and the sea’ also has illustrations inside and ‘Secret Garden’ has some photos from the drama, that the book was written from, decorating the first couple of pages.

Why did I chose these two books? That’s a good question and it has very simple answers. I chose Secret Garden because I have watched the drama, and that it was quite good, and because I wanted a book that I hadn’t read but that I knew the storyline off so that it would be easier to follow. I considered ‘Secret Garden’, ‘Eat Pray and Love’ and ‘IRIS’. ‘Secret Garden’ and ‘IRIS’ are both Korean dramas that I enjoyed and ‘Eat Pray and Love’, as you might know, is an american film with Julia Roberts. I ended up choosing ‘Secret Garden’ by elimination: ‘Eat Pray and Love’ was too long and since ‘IRIS’ was an action drama about secret agents, political plays and secrecy I thought that the language would be more difficult to understand so I am saving that for next time. Besides when I opened ‘Secret Garden’ and was able to understand the first line of the book I felt so proud that there was no way that I wasn’t going to buy it.

As for ‘The old man and the sea’ it has been on my list of books to read for a while. A while back I heard someone talk about it on a Korean show and it caught my interest, so when I saw it here in Korea I thought that it would be funny, and a bit challenging, to read it in Korean. This far the book isn’t too difficult, but I am learning a lot from it and upgrading my Korean skills.

And I almost forgot the most funny part of going to a Korean bookshop. In this bookshop they happen to have a very big English department so seeing foreigners there isn’t unusual at all, but seeing a foreigner reading Korean books in the store, like me, apparently is unusual. I caught a couple of people staring at me and walking past me only to turn around and take another look at the book that I was holding.

When I went to pay for my books the girl first said: ‘Hello’ but when I said ‘안녕하세요’ she skimmed at my books smiled and responded with the same word before going on in Korean. I almost made a perfect exit answering all of her question until the point that she asked if i had  membership card. Because people usually think that I am a tourist no one has ever asked me this before so I didn’t understand, and when I finally got it she managed to say it in English before I managed to answer. Argh, so close… next time I’ll know.


I don’t know if you all still remember but I went to Lotte World last Friday and there I saw Super Junior, or well two members from the group: Heechul and Leeteuk. At the time they were filming for a TV program and that show aired on Sunday. I watched it when it came out and got a shock as I spotted myself and five classmates and friends on the screen. I wonder, can you find me? (You might be able to find Lokty and some of my classmates as well if you remember them from the few pictures that I’ve posted)

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Thilde Kold Holdt

I am a novelist by profession, currently working an epic fantasy series about 7th century Korea. My epic fantasy trilogy about Vikings, the Hanged God, is currently being published. I have lived

enough different places that the most difficult question to answer is: "where are you from?" I am, quite simply, from the planet Earth, for I have yet to set foot on Mars. Someday, though...

© Thilde Kold Holdt