My Small Steps Towards Foreign Fiction
- onApril 21, 2015
- Vol.27 Spring 2015
- byKim Yeonsu
A while ago, I started taking Japanese classes at a language school near my home. It is a small school offering only Japanese, located on the seventh floor of a sparsely frequented building in the outskirts of Seoul, a fact that I like. The first class I went to only had three students including me. When I was an actual schoolboy I used to nod off in class, but in this one I’m constantly kept on my toes since I never know when the teacher will ask a question. So I’m coming along with my Japanese better than I thought.
But that’s not the only thing preventing me from relaxing. I mentioned three students: myself, a young man, and a girl. The man, who always waltzes in after the teacher smelling of cigarettes, is older than the girl, but still at least two decades younger than me. With the girl it’s easier—she’s just one year older than my daughter. Anyway, it’s enough motivation for me to not make a fool of myself in front of these youngsters.
The three of us were sitting in conversation class when the girl, who’s planning to go to a tourism vocational school next year, asked me in Japanese, “何年生まれですか? (What year were you born?)” The point of this particular lesson was to learn how to say ‘years’ in Japanese the correct way, but given the circumstances I felt justified in glossing over my answer. I did wonder what the girl, who was born in 1999, imagined the year 1970 to be like.