Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sanghyung Lee

A Konglish joke:

I've never met a man named Sanghyung Lee. But if I do, I hope he's my type.

Get it? ;)

Okay, let me explain. Korean people like romance, and they like talking about their Mr. or Mrs. Right. Or your Mr. or Mrs. Right. I get asked all the time if I have a girlfriend. When I reply in the negative, the next question is always either, "So are you going to get a Korean girlfriend?" or the ever-so-slightly subtler, "So who's your ideal type?" And the word in Korean for "ideal type" (not the Weberian term) is 이상형 (理想型), pronounced ee-sahng-hyoung.
Google Images search of "이상형" returns lots of beautiful women, followed closely by lots of beautiful men. Also, blended portraits of celebrities (remember Average Faces?) to project onto one's 미래의 여친 (future girlfriend).
My Korean teacher once jokingly reminded our class that we were learning how to describe the perfect partner, not a weird older brother (異常兄), which is pronounced the same way. But when I hear the word, rather than thinking of Tim or Dan, I keep thinking that it sounds like one of my students, who is named Sanghyun (without the 'g'). There are definitely Korean men named Sanghyung (상형), although the hanja is probably different. Some people might think the name means "hieroglyphs", since that's all I get from an image search of it.
Google Images search of "상형" (象形), which is the "hiero-" part of "hieroglyphs", returns lots of ancient Chinese characters and stones with Mayan and Egyptian hieroglyphs. My future love (愛) is going to have yellow, heart-shaped hair.
And since Lee (이) is the second most common surname among Koreans, there's got to be a real 이상형 out there. I haven't met one yet. But if I do...

I'll ask him if he's tired of the joke yet.

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