Korean trolls and my proudest day as a young journalist
TODAY I got my first ever angry email as a journalist. One of our loyal readers sent me his thoughtful response to a fluff piece I did about Korean food cooking lessons for expats. Here, completely unedited, is what he sent to my inbox (the red lines are his comments on my writing, although the righteous fellow wasn't consistent with the colour so some of the black ones are too):
"Cookery classes 'cooking classes' is common. 'cookery class' is right, too. But, nobody says that. A special royal cuisine cooking class Later in your report, you use 'cooking'. Choose one. like choose only woman.
Despite being less well-known internationally than its Chinese and Thai equivalents, Korean food is gaining popularity around the world. Now it is hoped that traditional Korean cookery classes for foreigners will only broaden its appeal further. The ****** reporters love 'despite'. 'Though' is friendly. 'less well-known' is grade-1 English. 'less known' will do. 'is gaining' shoud be 'has been gaining'. ' will only broaden its appeal further' awkward English.
global food What is 'global food' ? I've never heard that ? Is your inventive writing. English is not your mother tongue. You are not W. Shakespere or Dickenson. The Herald love 'global'. Seoul will be 'global city'. What is 'global city' ? But Korea is still a process to work on Korea = a process ??? to prepare Korean dishes bulgogi bulgogi is ONE dish. Why dishes ??? which will focus on other dishes such as Big deal ! which will teach you other dishes.... It's class. Plain Englsh is better. will also take place in September at a date yet to be decided. 'take place' ??? Class does not take place. Class starts.
According to Yoo Yoo said. 'according ...' is everywhere. Boring composition. Yoo also says that the center center' somewWhat is the center ? You call Korea House 'center' ? Did I miss 'somthing here ? it’s a well-being and health food You don't know 'well-being'. You say 'healthy and happy and health'. Well-being is healthy and happy.
I have to stop. Email your comments on my comments. After 8 emails to your collagues, I am still waiting for the first reply. Have a good day.
An annoyed reader."
Boy did I get a laugh out of this. There is something marvelously surreal about a Korean with a standard of English that is, being kind, problematic insisting that English is not this native speaker's mother tongue. Funny, I always thought it was.
But he knew how to hit me where it hurt. Not Shakespeare? You are telling me that you didn't like my theatrical debut, a stirring 400-word tale on classes about cooking up grub that would surely rival the poetic elegance of Hamlet? Fiddlesticks. And I tried so hard.
As for "Dickenson", I imagine he meant either Dickens or Dickinson, as in Emily. Funnily, I failed to notice a realist Victorian vibe or plodding, soul-crushingly depressing tone in the article. My mistake.
I decided to send him this reasonably polite, if sarcastic, reply:
Dear Annoyed reader/Mr. Kim,
I regret that you take such a dim view of my English ability, but I can assure you that English is in fact my mother tongue.
I would also like to point out that at no point in the article did I claim to be either the distinguished William Shakespeare or Emily Dickinson. Someday I may write a play or book of poems, but for the moment I will stick to writing prose of a more mundane sort.
For the life of me I can not understand why none of my colleagues have responded to you. Perhaps they did not receive your email? You know how technology can be.
To my dismay, the heroic fellow did not write back. Of course, he probably has quite a few emails to write.
After all, someone has to stand up to the slimy hacks in this town.