Wednesday, February 22, 2012

KSL Moment

KSL mental block in Korean class this afternoon:

During our discussion about Korean politics, Professor Choi used the abbreviation 반미 (反美), which means anti-American, as in anti-U.S. policies or sentiment.

It's not a rare or difficult word—반미 is a common term in the news, and even the hanja are quite basic—but, perhaps due to my hunger, the first possible definition that popped into my head was bánh mì, the delicious French-Vietnamese sandwich with which I have been known to be obsessed.

Clearing my head of images of pâté and pickled carrots, I began thinking about possible hanja matches and correctly concluded that the 미 was equivalent to 美. Unfortunately, I also thought that 반 might refer to 半, meaning half. Logically then, 반미 would be half-beauty or half-America (the "beautiful country"). What an interesting word for 'butterface'!

The next iteration finally reached the correct hanja (反美), but it occurred to me that this might mean anti-beauty. "How unfortunate," I thought. Haters gonna hate, right?

Finally, I remembered the correct definition of 반미, and suddenly the world seemed a less amusing place. Granted, this entire process of hanja mixing and matching probably lasted for less than five seconds, but it was five seconds of absurd hilarity that had me laughing out loud by myself in the middle of Professor Choi's rather serious explanation of Korean party politics.

Oh, the strange and solitarily humorous things that happen inside my brain...