Book Review: Korean Folk Songs

KoreanFolkSongsI knew it had been awhile since I’d blogged, but I was amazed to see that my last entry was exactly a year ago today. As much as I love doing this blog, life has certainly gotten in the way of blogging.

But today I’m happy to bring you a review of a wonderful book that would make a great resource for Korean adoptive families, or anyone who wants their child to learn the Korean language.

The book is “Korean Folk Songs: Stars in the Sky and Dreams in Our Hearts” by Robert Sang-ung Choi. The book features 14 Korean folk songs and includes everything you need to learn the songs, including a CD with the songs presented in two versions, one that is sung and another that has no words so you can sing along.

For each song, the book contains a short description of the song and its history. Then the music is included with words in hangul, romanized Korean, and English. And since many Korean songs have hand and/or body movements to go with them, a description of the actions that should accompany the song is listed as well.

Some of the songs, like Santokki (Mountain Rabbit) and Gom Semari (Three Bears Song) were familiar to our family. But there are several others that are new to us. As a baby my son would have loved the Jjak Jjak Ggung (Clap, Clap, Clap) song, since that was one of the games he was playing in Korean when he came home. Korea’s most popular folk song–Arirang–is included as well.

All of the songs are steeped in the Korean culture and are likely songs our children adopted from Korea heard during the months or years spent in their birth country. The illustrations by Samee Back are beautiful and represent the folksy, cultural aspect of the book well.

I would highly recommend the book for any family that is learning the Korean language (learning by song is sometimes the easiest way to learn), and especially for adoptive families with Korean-born kiddos. My 9-year-old enjoyed listening to the CD and looking at the illustrations.

Here is a link to the Amazon listing for the book.

(Note: Tuttle Publishing provided me with a review copy of the book.)


Korean Lullaby

As most of you know we loved our trip to Korea in 2006 to pick up our son. Aside from not being able to find Suwon Bluewings gear, we got almost everything we’d wanted–both information and souvenirs.

Our son’s foster mom sang a lullaby for him and let us video it, which is something I’d been hoping to have. My thoughts were that I could learn it and it would be something familiar for him. I’d heard a few children’s songs during the flight to Korea, but the one she sang wasn’t familiar. When I asked what it was about, the social worker said “just a silly story about a dog.”

So we got home from the trip and a few days later I’d recovered enough to pop in the video tape to see the song and the baby games that the foster mom played with our son. But instead I found that we’d taped over a good part of our first meeting with some sightseeing the next day. After our meeting my husband had rewound the tape to see our son again but forgot to fast forward to the end of that meeting, so the next day when he started taping the sightseeing erased a good part of the meeting. (Yes, I was heartbroken, as was he, but he’s been forgiven. And our advice now is to take that tape out and put in a fresh one to hopefully avoid any mishaps.)

All of that to say that I believe this lullaby is the song our son’s foster mother sang to him. Yes, it’s been four years and I can’t verify it, but it sounds like the tune I remember and it’s about a dog.

You can hear the lullaby, with an accompanying cartoon, here: This video has the hangul lyrics on it.

You can find the romanized lyrics and translation of the song here: It’s the December 17, 2010, post and it was posted under Korean Language and tagged Korean Lullaby.

Korean Games for Babies and Toddlers

When our son came home at 9.5 months old, he was already playing patty cake and peek-a-boo in Korean. So we continued to play them with him in Korean.

Korean peek-a-boo is “kah koong” (again the previous words are written as pronounced). Here is a YouTube video so you can hear the pronunciation:

The Korean version of patty cake is “chak cha goong.”

A couple of years after our son came home I learned of another game that most Korean babies learn. It has four parts to it, including chak cha koong. It’s called dori/jam/kunji/chak cha koong. Each word has a corresponding motion, which each are done in unison three to four times in a row.

Thanks to the adoptive moms who shared the links below. With them you’re able to see the games played and hear the words pronounced.

Here’s a video showing a halmoni doing the game chak cha koong/dori/jam/kunji:

And another video that shows the game done by a Korean grandmother for her grandson. You’ll find the video here:

Sadly the following links no longer work. Now YouTube is saying that these vides are private. But I’m leaving the information here as a reminder to myself, and to my readers, since I periodically check to see if these vides are back on the Internet anywhere. They were a wonderful reference for parents, and my hope is that they’ll return some.

These links referenced a set of YouTube videos showing dori/jam/kunji/chak cha koong and were done by Master Chungsuk of the Sedona Mago Retreat. These videos gave some background on the games/exercises, and each game was done separately.

Here is the link that showed a list of all five videos for the “coordination exercises for babies” as the videos by Master Chungsuk are called on YouTube.

Or there were links that allowed you to jump directly to a specific video.

Dori Dori

Chak cha goong (jjak jjak kkoong)!v=qEyCBY3Zu1Q&feature=PlayList&p=DDD2429A521DC336&playnext_from=PL&index=2&playnext=1

Kunji Kunji (gonji gonji)!v=DaHdwBZ4YMk&feature=PlayList&p=DDD2429A521DC336&playnext_from=PL&index=2&playnext=2

Jam Jam!v=OxmhoMxNfzM&feature=PlayList&p=DDD2429A521DC336&playnext_from=PL&index=3&playnext=1

SisangSisang Dalgoong (Respect for Elders)!v=hrVCyPEq_Z0&feature=PlayList&p=DDD2429A521DC336&playnext_from=PL&index=4&playnext=1

Tadpole Song

Since the last Korean children’s song I posted was my son’s favorite, I decided this time I would share my favorite. It’s the Tadpole Song, which is about a little tadpole that gets its legs and becomes a frog. Be sure to memorize the little dance that goes with it; it seems that hand-motions and dances are important to Korean children’s songs.

Just like last time, the link to a YouTube video of the song is attached to the song title. Then comes the lyrics in hangul, followed by the romanization, and the translation.

Tadpole Song
개울가에 올챙이 한마리
꼬물꼬물 헤엄치다
뒷다리가 쑥~ 앞다리가 쑥~
팔딱팔딱 개구리됐네
꼬물꼬물 꼬물꼬물
꼬물꼬물 올챙이가
뒷다리가 쑥~ 앞다리가 쑥~
팔딱팔딱 개구리됐네

Gae eulga e olchangi han mari
GGomul GGomul hae umchi da
dweet dariga ssok~ appdariga ssok~
palddak palddak gaeguri dwetne~
Ggomul ggomul(3x) olchangi ga
dweet dariga ssok~appdariga ssok~
palddak palddak gaeguri dwetne
In a little stream, there’s a tadpole.
Wriggle, wriggle wriggles around.
Hindlegs out, forelegs out,
hoping, hoping, he became a frog.
wriggle, wriggle, wriggle, wriggle, wriggle, wriggle, a tadpole.
hindlegs out, forelegs out,
hoping, hopping, he became a frog.

곰세마리가 (Kom se ma-ri ga), aka The Three Bears song

This song is my son’s favorite Korean children’s song, well if you don’t count the ones he makes up himself. So it was the one he chose for me to post next. The title is a link to the song on YouTube (or you can search “Korean three bears song” on YouTube).  Then I’ve provided the lyrics in hangul, the romanized version of the lyrics, and the translation. Enjoy!

곰세마리가 (The Three Bears song)

곰세마리가 한집에있어
아빠곰 엄마곰 애기곰

아빠곰은 뚱뚱해
엄마곰은 날씬해
애기곰은 너무귀여워
히쭉히쭉 잘한다

곰세마리가 한집에있어
아빠곰 엄마곰 애기곰

아빠곰은 뚱뚱해
엄마곰은 날씬해
애기곰은 너무귀여워
히쭉히쭉 잘한다 –

kom se ma-ri-ga
han chi-be-i-so
appa gom
omma gom
ae-gi gom
appa gommun dung-dung-hae
omma gommun nal-shi-nae
ae-gi gommun no mu-gwi-yo-wo
eeshuk eeshuk cha-han-da
There are three bears in a house,
Father bear, Mommy bear, baby bear!
Daddy bear is fatty,
Mommy bear is slim,
Baby bear is too cute!
Shrug! Shrug!* You are doing well!

A Song Every Korean Knows

The culture category is going to include a little bit of everything. Today I wanted to introduce a song that I’ve heard every Korean knows. Children’s songs are such a part of a cultural consciousness so I thought it would be great if our son could learn these songs. And he does know a couple now.

Plus I believe adoptive parents can use these songs to help easy the transition for Korean adoptees who are newly home. I couldn’t sing any of the songs when our son came home, but we did listen to a Korean children’s CD over and over.

First, I’ve included a link to a YouTube video of four Korean women singing this song and using the hand gestures that go with it. Next I’ve included the lyrics in hangul, romanized (using English letters), and translated into English. Happy singing!

산토끼 (San Tokki)

First Verse:
산토끼 토끼야 어디를 가느냐
깡총깡총 뛰면서 어디를 가느냐
Second Verse:
산고개 고개를 나혼자 넘어서
토실토실 알밤을 주워서 올테야

First Verse:
San-toki, toki-ya
Uh-dee-reul gah-neu-nyah?
Kang-choong, kang-choong tee-myun-suh
Uh-dee-reul gah-neu-nyah?
Second Verse:
San-go-gae go-gae-reul
Nah-hon-jah nuhm-uh-suh
to-shil to-shil ahl-bahm-eul
Joo-wuh-suh ol-tae-yah
First Verse:
Mountain bunny, bunny
Where are you going?
Bouncing, bouncing as you’re running.
Where are you going?
Second Verse:
Over the mountain peaks, peaks
I will climb them on my own
Plump, plump chestnuts
I will find and bring