Tag Archives: TOPIK

What is “masochism” in Korean?

So what kind of a masochist would voluntarily take a 3-hour language exam for fun? Yeah…

I have returned to the land of blogging after several weeks of mostly absence, a lot of which was due to the fact that I was studying for a large Korean exam known as TOPIK, or Test of Proficiency in Korean. As of today, it is finally over. It is quite difficult and by the third hour, it gets very exhausting. I did it mostly to have some idea of my skill level and to have something to show others, maybe even for a job later. So, it wasn’t really for fun, but it doesn’t have any immediate impact on my life.

The test is divided into two parts with a break in the middle: the first is grammar, vocabulary and writing, including writing an essay. The second part is listening and reading. I took this same test about 4 years ago and at that time, I did terrible on the grammar and actually pretty good on the listening. This time was the opposite (at least how I felt about it; we’ll see in a few weeks). The hardest questions were in the writing section. They write a paragraph and leave out a phrase, which you have to fill in from context. No multiple choice, no hints. I call them the widowmakers. Here’s an example:

TOPIK questions

See what I mean? Hard.

It may not be evident to people in North America or Europe, but Korean is becoming a very popular language of study, especially in Asia, and so this is a pretty popular test. I live in a relatively small city in Korea and there were over 1100 people who took it today. Mostly Chinese, but also a lot from almost every other country in central and east Asia, plus a smattering from other countries as well. Anyway, now I’m going to forget about studying Korean for a while and get back to writing.

By the way, you may have noticed that I never answered the question in the title: what is “masochism” in Korean? There are two answers. One is a loanword: “mae-jeo-ki-jeom” (which sounds a bit like “magic kissing”) and the longer “pi-hak-seong byeon-tae seong-yok” which is literal translation of exactly what masochism is. So there you have it: go wow your friends.

This was one of the first results when I did a Google Image search for "Korean masochism" although it was due to this post

This was one of the first results when I did a Google Image search for “Korean masochism” although it was due to this post

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