Okay, Korean foodie friends….this week we are at the letter, “ㅇ”. A recap of anju here if you’ve missed it.
안주, pronounced “ahn joo”. Common spellings: anju, ahnjoo.
As an initial consonant, the letter, “ㅇ” doesn’t have a sound. So you can say that it is kind of silent. And it makes the sound of whatever vowel is added to it. Perhaps you might remember “ㅇ” when we went over “냉면 (naengmyeon)” and “된장 (doenjang)”, where “ㅇ” was used as a final consonant, in which case, the “ng” sound is made.
As we see in the first syllable, “안”, the letter, “ㅇ” takes on the sound of the vowel, “ㅏ”, thus making an “ah” sound. “Ah” like when the dentist tells you to open your mouth and say “ahhh”.
“Ahhh~~n” like the Korean last name “Ahn”
If you’ve been following my Korean alphabet series, you might remember “ㅏ” in 된장 (doenjang), 복분자 (bokbunja), and 라면 (ramyeon). We hear the “ah” sound in “jang” of doenjang, in “ja” of bokbunja, and “ra” of ramyeon. Remember? I’m sure you do since you are all smart cookies!
주 = joo or ju
This one is pretty easy, right? Joo, just like it sounds. “Anju” seems like the most common romanized spelling. And it looks like it could easily be pronounced as “ann (like the name Ann) joo”. I’m going to make reference to our 된장 post again, as it was where the letter, “ㅈ” appeared. Remember?! We also saw “ㅈ” in the last syllable of “복분자 (bokbunja)”
In fact, the next letter we will be covering will be ㅈ! Can you guess which Korean food/drink I will be referencing for ㅈ?
That was it for today’s Hangul lesson. Writing about anju kind of brought back memories of my first drinking experience and memories of Korea.
I was 20 at the time, underaged to drink here, but over there, I was of age.
My parents had sent me to a summer program in Pohang. The program was designed for Korean kids that grew up in other countries to come and experience Korea, -the language, the culture, yada yada. It was mostly Korean kids from the States and the UK. The program itself was three weeks long. The three weeks dragged on and it had me feeling like I was in prison. We’d wake up every morning at 7 a.m. sharp by the obnoxious ding~ dong~ dang~ sound on the intercom, which I still have nightmares about. Then some annoying voice on the intercom would cheerfully greet us good morning.
Those smart enough would get up before the military alarm and wash up before 70 people would get in line to use the restroom to do their business and wash up. This was at a dorm of a university, but I imagine that’s what prison is almost like. I (and everyone else) was so miserable throughout the program. It was also in the boonies with not much to do. The program itself was whack. It seemed mostly geared towards kids that spoke very little to no Korean. There were different levels of classes, with the most basic class being for those that literally knew zero Korean. I was placed in the highest level, along with the 1.5 generation kids, even though I’m a second generation. We were bored out of our minds, going overmind-numbingg, useless crap we already knew.
Don’t even get me started on the cafeteria food! I dreaded meal time, OMG! Also, summertime in Korea is nasty. It gets disgustingly humid and sticky hot. I was in Hell, living military style, eating disgusting food, bored out of my mind, never having privacy, FML.
Some kids resorted to drinking. For some, it was the first time. It was a summer of many first times. I remember one kid bragging to his buddies of how he just got devirginized and how it’d be a summer he’d never forget. He was 16. She was 22. See what happens when kids get bored out of their minds? I didn’t do any of those. The most fun I had during my Hellish stay at the university was probably going to the downtown area to eat, shop, and going sightseeing.
The three weeks dragged on to what seemed like three years. On the final day of being in that Hell hole, we took a bus to Seoul. The ride was long, but I was ecstatic to finally break free. I imagined that’s what it felt like to break out of prison after a long time. On the road, I saw other cars. I smelled pollution of the city. I saw civilization. I could breathe again.
I had a remaining week left in my stay at Korea. I stayed at a relative’s. I had my own room, my own bed, no more waiting over an hour in line to take a shower in the morning. No more waking up in the middle of the night to the roommate that had conversations in her sleep. No more sleeping in uncomfortable bunk beds in a room with three other girls. No more having to wake up to the military alarm drill on the intercom.
My final week was a blast. I remember hitting a lot of restaurants and cafes, going sightseeing, hitting the shops, eating effing delicious food and feeling alive again.
Cousins asked what else I wanted to do. I got a bit curious of the bar/club culture there. Since I wouldn’t be able to hit that scene (legally) when coming back to the States, I figured why not take advantage there instead of waiting another year when I get back.
My aunt and uncle gave my cousins money to take me out into the nightlife/drinking scene of Korea.
“I’ve never dreamed mom and dad would give us money for booze,” said my cousin, shocked at their parents’ gesture.
We went to some jazz club to pregame. There, we drank beer. And there was popcorn. The beer was mild and drinkable. Not bad.
The real game started when we hit the club. We had more beer. And then…..Crown Royal, a drink that had proved to be way too advanced for the alcohol virgin.
Cousins kept pouring me shots. And more beer. Then more shots. Then mixed pours of beer and Crown.
Everything became a blur in the restroom. I knew I was drunk when I found myself actually using the hole in the ground toilet. Whenever coming across a hole in the ground toilet, I always opted to hold it until I found a real toilet. But there I was, somehow suddenly feeling not uncomfortable about squatting down over the hole to pee.
The blur became even more blurry after that. Some parts I hardly remember. I was gone and came back during the part where I was being piggybacked out of the club. I awoke to the sound of cousin screaming and laughing about how heavy I was.
I was too drunk to speak Korean. My cousins don’t speak English and I started talking to them in English, as if they were supposed to understand and respond back in English. They kept asking in Korean, “What are you saying?” and then tried to guess what I was saying and told me to quit talking to them in English.
That first alcohol experience had me drunk for days. #virginsensitivities
I flew back home a couple of days after. I still couldn’t shake off my drunkenness. It was a drunken flight back home. The weird thing was that I did not feel sick or hungover at all. If I drank like that now, I think I’d be puking my guts out and hating life.
I didn’t drink again after that until the following year when I turned 21.
To explore more on anju, please follow my Pinterest board on anju, where I pin delicious anju!
Other (Korean food related) boards to follow:
Korea -Korean food & recipes (this one is a group board that I was invited to join a long time ago). Join to connect with other Korean food lovers!
Learning Korean through food (this board I created specifically geared towards Korean 101 series)
Connect with other Korean foodies
I moderate a couple of Korean foodie groups. Feel free to join. Connect with Korean foodies from all around the world.