It may seem odd for an English major to also pursue a minor in Korean, but I find it an indispensable part of my studies. As an aspiring writer, I am greatly interested in the power of words beyond their every day definition. Words can evoke a powerful emotion in the reader and just changing one or two words can completely change the mood of a paragraph.
So why Korean? I have accepted that as a Korean-American, I cannot completely deny that there are Korean influences in my life that will spill over into my writing. However, there are many things about my Korean identity that cannot be translated into English. There is no word that can truly convey the pain and anger behind the word "Han" or the subtle etiquette and soul reading behind "Noon-chim." How can I truly write from my soul when a part of it is lacking the right emotion filled word?
For me, Korean is not just another set of words, interchangeable variables with its English counterparts as if their values are equal. It is the second half of my own personal language, so integrated within me that, without it, I am nothing more than just a half a person with fragmented speech, glaring holes in where Korean should have been there to fill.
-- Leah J. Kim, English major, Korean minor (leah_kim AT berkeley.edu)