[KS] KSR 2004-05: _Korean Composition_, by Pong Ja Paik, Ji Young Kwak, and Ji Hyoun Choi

Stephen Epstein Stephen.Epstein at vuw.ac.nz
Sun Mar 28 01:46:15 EST 2004

Korean Composition by Pong Ja Paik, Ji Young Kwak, and Ji Hyoun Choi, 
2002. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. 334 pages. (ISBN 

Reviewed by Gerard Krzic
Ohio University
krzic at ohio.edu

Korean Composition, by Pong Ja Paik, Ji Young Kwak, and Ji Hyoun 
Choi, is a welcome addition to the growing collection of Korean as a 
Second Language (KSL) textbooks. The text is advertised as the "first 
book in English for students of Korean language aimed not only at 
enhancing their writing skills and overall linguistic competence, but 
also at organizing and developing their ideas and thoughts with 
grammatically, stylistically, and culturally correct expressions." 
The authors are true to their intent: Korean Composition is a fine 
textbook designed to develop the writing skills of KSL learners 
across a variety of genres.

The text was written under the auspices of the Korean Language and 
Education Center (KLEAR) as part of the KLEAR textbook series. Prior 
to publication, the text was field-tested in KSL classes at the 
University of Hawaii, and based on student feedback, was revised to 
include English translations of the model writings and table of 
contents. Members of KLEAR further refined the chapters by adding new 
grammatical patterns and a Korean-English glossary.

Korean Composition is intended for college-level students who have 
completed at least beginning and intermediate levels of Korean or 
approximately five hundred hours of instruction.  For students who 
are using the KLEAR Integrated Korean series, this text is 
recommended for those who have completed Advanced Intermediate 2. The 
text is based on the "Guided Writing" method of instruction, a 
methodology that provides students with ample structure to develop 
and organize their ideas in a coherent, culturally appropriate manner.

The text is divided into two sections:  "Essential Composition" 
(gibon jangmun)[1] and "Advanced Composition" (gogeup jangmun).  The 
five chapters in the Essential Composition section help students 
learn to write essays, diaries, letters, documents (including 
memoranda, invitations, cards and envelopes, and resumes), and 
expository writing about topics such as recreation, hobbies, and 
customs.  The advanced section consists of five chapters to help 
students write descriptive compositions (impressions of literature, 
film and travel), poetry, newspaper articles, academic writing, and 
summaries.  Two other sections at the end of the text include "Steps 
of Composition" and "Styles of Writing" (jangmunui gwajeong and 
pyohyeon bangbeop). Appendices include English translations of the 
model texts.  In total, there are forty units in the book.

The general structure of each unit in the chapters includes the 
following format.  First, students are provided with a brief 
introduction on "How To Write" the specific genre (e.g., diaries, 
letters, articles, etc.). Then, each unit begins with a list of 
approximately forty words, phrases, and idiomatic expressions to help 
students generate vocabulary and ideas to incorporate in their 
written work. The next two sections include useful grammar patterns 
and a practice component with guided question prompts, pictures, 
graphs, and paragraph completion exercises.

The above exercises are arranged in "ascending order of difficulty." 
The introductory exercises are designed to prepare the students for 
their writing task through a dialogue with the instructor.  The 
grammatical suggestions and question prompts are provided to help 
students draft their paragraphs.  The final step is for students to 
compose a complete creative piece of writing.

The content of the text is exemplified in Chapter One, Unit Four 
titled "Misunderstanding."  At the beginning of the chapter, the 
students learn that the rhetorical pattern of written Korean follows 
a structure termed "kiseungjeongyeol" (i.e., introduce an issue, 
elaborate it, turn it in a decisive direction, offer a 
conclusion)[2].  Then, in the unit vocabulary, the learner is 
introduced to approximately forty lexical items such as "pyeonggyeon" 
(bias), "geobukhada" (to be awkward), and "chunggo" (advice).  Three 
sample grammatical structures (i.e., must: " - dorok hada"; 
pretended: -neun/(eu)n cheokhada" ; almost: "-(eu)l bbeonhada") with 
examples follow.  This grammatical preparation is followed by a 
"practice" section with a series of questions in Korean to guide the 
writer:  1) Have you ever misunderstood another person?  2) Why did 
you misunderstand that person?  3) How did you resolve that 
misunderstanding?  Etc.  Based on this practice, students begin their 
first writing task: narrating a personal experience involving a 
misunderstanding. The next writing task is an analysis of a dialogue 
illustrating a cultural misunderstanding between a Korean and an 
international student who has been asked too many personal questions 
in a Korean social setting. Finally, the teacher can exploit either a 
series of pictures depicting a cultural scene on a bus in Korea or a 
model composition to elicit an essay about cross-cultural 

  As with all texts for the second language classrooms, Korean 
Composition may require modifications by the instructor to meet the 
needs and interests of specific learners. For example, some 
instructors might find the text overly ambitious with too many genres 
of written work, too repetitive in format, and too bland in graphic 
presentation. However, these elements can be easily adjusted by 
selecting the appropriate units for the students, designing 
additional in-class activities (e.g., dicto-comp: composition by 
dictation) and supplementing with other material (e.g., from the 
internet, colorful brochures) to retain the interests of the young 
adult learners.

Unquestionably, the authors of Korean Composition have filled a great 
shortcoming in the KSL literature by providing a useful, 
comprehensive text for improving students' Korean writing skills and 
awareness of Korean rhetorical patterns. The latter is perhaps the 
greatest strength of the text, as students will learn to develop a 
"schema" for writing in rhetorical styles that are culturally and 
socially appropriate for the Korean context rather than relying on 
mental models or translations from their native cultures and 
languages.  In addition, the range of genres and topics allows 
students to engage in social, personal, literary, and academic 
writing tasks. Through the use of the guided writing approach, 
students are given suitable direction for completing structured 
writing tasks while at the same time gaining the confidence to engage 
in more creative work. In conclusion, Korean Composition is an 
excellent text that should in the library of every KSL teacher and in 
the hands of every KSL learner.

[1] I've chosen here to use the new Korean government system for 
Romanization (except in the case of authors' names).

[2] A similar structure for Chinese and Japanese written discourse is 
described in J. Hinds (1990),  "Inductive, deductive, 
quasi-inductive: Expository writing in Japanese, Korean, Chinese and 
Thai" in U. Connor & A. M. Johns (Eds.), Coherence in writing: 
Research and pedagogical perspectives (pp. 87-110). Alexandria, VA: 

Krzic, Gerard 2004
_Korean Composition_,  by Pong Ja Paik, Ji Young Kwak, and Ji Hyoun 
Choi,  (2002)
_Korean Studies Review_ 2004, no. 05
Electronic file: http://koreaweb.ws/ks/ksr/ksr04-05.htm
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