Catch The Wave’s Hey, Korean!! : Learning Korean Language Through Radio

One of the first Korean programs I ever watched, called “Pops in Seoul,” aired on Arirang TV. It is considered an iconic program since it’s been running since 1998. Arirang was probably the first channel that introduced me to Korean music and culture. Little did I know that this same agency will help me learn the Korean language today! 🙂

Arirang Broadcasting (TV/Radio) is a Korean broadcasting agency that is well known for its focus on promoting Korea’s culture and art to the rest of the world. If you visit their website, you’ll find that Culture is one of the main categories of TV programs they have, along with Current Events and Entertainment. Their radio station boasts a broad line-up of programs that showcase various genres of music that includes K-Pop, Classical music, World music, and 국악 (gugak) or Traditional Korean music.

A very popular program from Arirang Radio’s roster is called Catch The Wave. It is 2-hour daily program that successfully incorporates Korean culture and music into one full show. The handsome and likable host, Adrien Lee, presents various topics about Korean culture, trends, travel, and language every week. The entire show is in English but the songs he plays are all Korean songs sung by Korean artists.

Screencap of Arirang Radio's Catch The Wave homepage
Screencap of Arirang Radio’s Catch The Wave homepage

Every Wednesday, Adrien is joined by Talk To Me In Korean’s Hyunwoo Sun to focus on Korean language. In their 1-hour segment called “Hey, Korean!!”, they invite listeners to participate in language quizzes or missions via the live message board. Alternatively, listeners can join by posting their messages or questions in advance, and Adrien and Hyunwoo respond to them the best they can during the show.

Catch The Wave’s listenership has grown into a global scale, and it is absolutely amazing to hear people from so many countries learning Korean and interacting through this venue.

Catch The Wave airs live from 6PM-8PM KST (Korean Standard Time), so this means that if I want to listen live, I have to wake up and tune in at 5AM EDT (Eastern Daylight Savings Time) or even earlier during winter, at 4AM EST (Eastern Standard Time)! Fortunately, the radio recordings are published on their website as Audio-On-Demand (AOD). You can simply click on a link and listen to this language segment again sans the song selections. Hyunwoo also publishes video highlights of the weekly lessons on Talk To Me In Korean’s website and YouTube channel so it is accessible anytime! Type “Catch The Wave” on YouTube and it is possible that the results you’ll get will include one or two surfing lesson videos, and then the rest are video clips from this radio show! 🙂

Screencap of the directory of Audio on Demand (AOD) tracks from Catch The Wave's website
Screencap of the directory of Audio on Demand (AOD) tracks from Catch The Wave’s website

The programs for Arirang TV and Radio streams “On Air” on their website but they also have mobile apps available for busy people on the go. I do have the Arirang Radio app on my phone but I don’t use it to stream live, however, I do take advantage of the AOD feature here as well. I download the recordings and I listen to them when I have some time or when I’m on my bus commute to/from work! 🙂 

Left: screencap of AOD directory on Arirang Radio App; Right: screencap of Catch The Wave directory on Talk To Me In Korean website
Left: screencap of my AOD directory on Arirang Radio App; Right: screencap of Catch The Wave directory on Talk To Me In Korean website;

A Look Into “Hey, Korean!!”

The “Hey, Korean!!” language corner on Wednesdays starts at the second hour of Catch The Wave. It has 3 main parts. It starts with a weekly “word mission”, where Adrien and Hyunwoo challenge listeners to make Korean sentences using a chosen verb. Hyunwoo briefly discusses how the verb is conjugated and gives out examples. They both read the responses during the rest of the program.

In the second part, they compare and contrast 2 pairs of Korean words. These words are usually used interchangeably since they can be translated into the same English word, but they still do have slight differences in meaning. The words may be commonly misused or misinterpreted by beginner Korean learners. Even Adrien sometimes get stumped when Hyunwoo asks him to explain the differences between the pair. Hyunwoo posts clips of this portion on the TTMIK website and YouTube page. I always find that these are fun, concise, and very interesting clips of knowledge! 🙂

In the last part, Adrien and Hyunwoo answer questions posted on the message board, where topics are always varied and very interesting.

Both Adrien and Hyunwoo take the roles of fantastic hosts/teachers in each episode! It’s no wonder they have a lot of fans and students around the world!

Flashback to “K-Talk”

When I first tuned into the show back in 2014, Hyunwoo’s segment was on Fridays. The show’s format and content were different back then. At that time, the language corner was called “K-Talk”. Adrien and Hyunwoo started each lesson by talking about a specific “survival” word, phrase, or expression. These were simple yet very useful words or phrases for travelers or beginner Korean learners. The next part was where they analyze a few lines from a K-pop song. I liked this portion very much because in here, Hyunwoo offered great explanations about the meaning of the song lyrics. He also emphasized nuances, which are always difficult to learn through textbooks or self-study. The third part was what I considered the most fun part of the program, and it was the Audio Clip segment where listeners send clips of them talking or singing in Korean. Adrien and Hyunwoo gave out advice on how to improve the sender’s pronunciation or grammar after the audio clip is played. They also gave out valuable culture tips relating to language. I tried my luck for this segment and sent in my recordings to the show in July and August 2014.

My first submission was a very short introduction of myself and why I wanted to study Korean. When it got picked for the show, Adrien was away on vacation and Eric Nam filled in for him, so it was Eric Nam who read my message! Yay! But he was very confused by my poor pronunciation back then. I cringe now when I watch that video clip again. I sent a second submission because I really wanted Adrien to read my message. I am his fan after all. I prepared a longer clip that time – I composed a simple Korean song and sang it while playing the ukulele. I’ll be shameless at this point, and share the clip with all of you. I was happy with the reactions that Adrien and Hyunwoo gave to my “performance”.

The song was about a very simple topic. At that time, I had very limited vocabulary and I had poor sentence construction skills, so my song was composed of several 1-liners. But it still worked! What do you think?

Old and recent recordings of the show are available online. I invite everyone to visit these language videos on YouTube and Talk To Me In Korean, and audio recordings on the AOD page of Catch The Wave.

Better yet, tune in to the live shows every Wednesday through the Arirang Radio website or on your app. Each video/episode holds very useful and valuable Korean language knowledge and it’s easy to make it a habit to learn through these. Give it a try today and tell us what you think! 🙂

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