Episode 028 – You Don’t Know Jeong!

Steve and Teresa discuss the Korean concepts of Jeong (μ •), Han (ν•œ), and Nunchi (눈치), their meanings in Korean culture and whether or not they can really be defined in English. Teresa brings us another installment of Hallyu Doin’ and we’ve got new music from Tierpark. Be sure to check our website for show notes and information on the band.



About SojuSeed

I'm the host of the podcast Korea Underground.
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One Comment

  1. Hey Dudes! (Hahaha)

    Your discussion on Han and Jeong was very interesting to listen to and I appreciate that my blog post was featured so prominently. I would just like to say, however that I disagreed with a lot of what you guys had to say about Jeong and how you characterized my discussion of it.

    First, as my blog post stated, I believe that Jeong is universal and it’s just that the Korean language has a term for it while English does not. This is pretty much what Steve seems to assert, but by adding that Jeong is bs because Koreans can’t even explain it to each other is not totally accurate in my opinion. Native speakers of Korean never need to explain what Jeong is to each other because they all know what it is. This is why they are unprepared to explain it to those who are not native speakers or don’t speak korean at all. Simply because it is hard to explain does not mean it is bs. It only means that it is … hard to explain.

    The second thing I took issue with was Teresa’s dismissal of my examples, where I suggested that one can have the feeling of jeong towards people and things such as one’s old shoes, or old apartment etc. She said that’s just sentimentality. I’d however say that this is a large part of jeong, in that it is something built up over time. Afterall, it is impossible to feel jeong towards something one is not familiar with. Now, this isn’t the full definition of what Jeong is, but the purpose of the post was to try to explain it, and I feel it does get you 7/10 of the way there.

    I can accept that we have different opinions on what the most important aspect of jeong and han are. You said that resentment isn’t at all a part of Han, but that’s the first thing that pops up in the naver dictionary when you type it in.


    I appreciate that Naver often makes mistakes, but I’m pretty sure that if that’s the first definition of the word, then it’s at the very least related, and if it is related and the term is so abstract, then I think it is safe to say that’s at least a part of it.

    I also took issue that Teresa dismissed my explanation saying that well maybe if we asked a Korean we’d get a different answer… that implies that I myself am not Korean, nor am I aware of the feelings all the Koreans in my life (most of whom have been there since I was a baby). I know I’ve got a pretty big chip on my shoulder from a lifetime of being “not-quite” Korean which might make me overly sensitive to this type of dismissal, and as someone with a diasporic identity I am sure you at least understand my sentiment at least, so I won’t hold it against you.

    Suffice it to say, my basic definition of Jeong (and Han) would be feelings toward people or things such that the feeling is integral to your identity. I am willing to accept that my definition is not perfect but I believe my understanding of Jeong and Han is close enough, to the point that any gap in understanding that may exist between myself and a native speaker is negligible.

    Overall your discussion of the topic was very engaging and even if there’s disagreement on what the terms themselves actually mean, I think that in itself is important to understanding them. Keep up the good work!



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